Visiting the Lake District? Don’t miss Brockhole.

by David Murray on 24 June 2011

in Attractions, Lake District NP, Windermere

It was not a glorious, sunny day when we last visited Brockhole, the Lake District Visitor Centre. Rather it was the end of one of those weeks that give the Lake District lakes their water. Nevertheless we spent a most enjoyable two or three hours.

Windermere from Brockhole on a cloudy day

Brockhole is not to be confused with “Brockholes”, the nature reserve now run by The Wildlife Trust fifty miles south of here by the River Ribble in Lancashire. It is a large old house in splendid grounds on the eastern shore of the lake, between Windermere village and Ambleside.

The official guardian of the Lake District, along with Cumbria County Council, is the “Lake District National Park Authority” and the LDNPA (as it is often known) has occupied Brockhole for many years. Today the house is the official National Park visitor centre, whilst the head offices of the Authority are (rather incongruously but probably more conveniently) just outside the Park boundary at Kendal.

Glimpse of Windermere from Brockhole

Once inside you have a wide variety of things to keep you occupied. You can, of course, simply walk around the grounds, admiring the scenery. You may, though, have come for one of the many organised events that cater for both adults and children. Often there are special exhibitions in the gallery rooms of the house. I recall one of sensational black and white photographs showing very early Lake District rock climbing. There is a shop which stocks much of Lake District interest and, as you might expect, you can eat.

The splendid Thomas Mawson garden, laid out in the Arts and Crafts style, covers thirty acres and overlooks Windermere with the Langdale Pikes in the background. Or maybe you’re a fan of kitchen gardens; then there’s something for you too. We hadn’t come for a particular event but we did all those other things mentioned above, and especially we explored the grounds. The weather cleared and, by the time we left, Brockhole and its visitors were enjoying the sun.

Brockhole - The House from the Gardens

If you are visiting the Lake District make sure you take some time out to visit Brockhole. I don’t believe you’ll be disappointed. Entry to the house and grounds is free apart from car parking, so when you’ve had several days of shelling out for pricey attractions elsewhere this can be a great relief to the wallet. The house is open all year round except Christmas Day from 10am to 5pm, although the closing time changes in the winter months to 4pm. The grounds and the children’s adventure playground open all year from 8am to 6pm. See the Brockhole web site for more detail.

The photographs here were all taken during that visit in 2008. It’s surely time to go back again and take some photos in the sunshine. Now that “Around-England” is based in Cumbria we really have no excuse.

Monster Roots in Brockhole Garden

Whatever is this? Monster Roots in Brockhole Garden

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