In a quiet corner of Cumbria, on the quiet and beautiful side East of the M6 sits Waitby School, a few miles from Kirkby Stephen. Originally built in 1680 as a school for the little village of Waitby and for Smardale this Grade II listed building has been wonderfully presented as luxury holiday accommodation for numbers up to 7 people. Alone the building sits on top of its own little fell, away from it all, surrounded by views upon views.
Before you even enter the place you cannot help yourself from looking around in all directions. The Howgills, the Pennines, valleys, woodland and waterfalls. The Coast to Coast pathway unsurprisingly passes close by. That is only the immediate surroundings before you start to think that within a very short short journey you would be in The Lake District, The Yorkshire Dales or the heart of The Eden Valley.
Heading inside this self catering cottage you meet a superbly architected mix of the original building with modern gives the Five Star class to the place. Oak and slate tops and floors locally produced, wood fire burning before a great fireplace. Add that to bose surround, a jacuzzi and underfloor heating and you can start to appreciate how great a place to stay it is. To the side a wonderful treat. Time seems to have stopped in one little room to the side with sink, coat hooks and even a desk from way back in the building’s original use.
That was a bit of the gorgeous inside.. Time to step outside on just one of the many walks that lay right out the door. Within minutes I was wandering along a long disused railway that is now Smardale Gill Nature Reserve. Following part of the route once occupied by the Tebay to Darlington line I got the quiet splendour of autumn trees, normally rare red squirrels in abundance, hardy late summer flowers and fells rising all around. Dramatic landscape framed gorgeously by viaducts crossing the valley. All this was perfectly flat as ex railway so perfect for all ages to discover.
Then it was time to complete the circular walk. A left turn over an old stome pack horse bridge, river full of trout and onwards. Time to gradually climb onto the fells and back round.
Open air, blue skies and even joining the coast to coast path for a short while. Views? Wow well I had the howgills and pennines laying all around me. The view up the Eden Valley from this area is immense , absolutely immense. You just know I spotted many hikes for the future too.
Back to the accommodation. Refreshed, coffee in hand and again looking out to the views in comfort. A place to enjoy, a place to relax, a place to hike, cycle, walk or even lazily escape to.
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