Over the half term break we stayed in a gorgeous, cosy, river-side cottage called Fox Barn in the Lake District, courtesy of Sykes Cottages. There were some very special fox decor touches, and it really made me think about the idea of exploring a cheeky little theme throughout your house, particularly if your house has a name you can expand on. If your house doesn’t have a name, it could be something you love, a plant that is a big feature in the garden, a local feature, your street name, an in joke you have as a family, a favourite holiday spot.
Fox Barn had two lovely themes, foxes and the Lake District. There were some stunning local photos by a local photographer. Local views, or views of places you love to spend time in, are another good way to make you feel at home or rooted to a place I think. Fox Barn is a cosy two bed ground floor cottage that worked really well for us, the perfect base to crash after a long day adventuring. It is really comfortable, very well equipped and dog-friendly.
The handbooks the owners have prepared are chock full of tips for things to do, detailed maps for walks, places to eat and there is even a whole folder for dog friendly places and walks – there are very few places you can’t take your dog in the Lakes. The owners were fab, and even left us some local produce and dog treats as a welcome, they also called to check we had everything we needed and to offer some more bespoke ideas for things to do – lovely touches.
There was a cupboard full of games, which my kids loved exploring, and the chalk board was a big hit and became a daily space for doodles about our adventures. Having a small but fairly open plan space made it really easy to relax when in the cottage, yet we could spread out into bedrooms if we wanted some peace. It was hard to leave the beds, they were really comfortable, which is vital if you are walking or adventuring all day.
One of the most exciting things about arriving at Fox Barn was discovering it is located on a lovely lane by the river, just a quarter of a mile from some great eateries in Staveley village, via a pretty stroll along the river. There is a small unenclosed area patio area with a BBQ overlooking the lane – however, we were too busy exploring the Lakes to need a garden!
The quiet road soon becomes a path, Staveley makes a really peaceful, un-touristy base, yet is only 15 minutes from Windermere where most of our activities took place. Of course we had to stop for some playing in the river…the cottage came with fishing nets, a very exciting discovery!
The only downsides are Fox Barn is a flat, so you may get some noise from above, and if you are really, really fussy about interiors, the artex wallpaper might grate a little. Fox Barn is immaculately presented however, very clean and comfortable, has a newly installed modern kitchen and bathroom, stylish furniture, with lovely quirky decor touches.
It’s hard to do justice to a place in photos on a cottage booking site, and it wasn’t Mr A’s first choice initially (he wanted the cottage on a hill with a 4 acre garden, but it was too far out of the Lake District and he hadn’t quite grasped the enormity of my plans for getting out in the countryside – we just didn’t need a garden), but having experienced it, we would absolutely return and recommend this as a fabulous base.
The kids liked the park and we did a couple of stunning local walks, both from the cottage door. The best bit was being able to go out the door, walk 10 minutes and be able to get this kind of perspective on the world.
For more ideas on things to do while staying in the Lakes, check out my Awesome Family Adventures on Space in Your Case or get feel for the Lake District as a whole, see our Swallow and Amazons adventure.
Things to do in Staveley
We loved Staveley it is a lovely peaceful village with some great places to eat if you are a bit of a foodie, you will love it. Our top things to do locally, all within 10 minutes walk:
We loved popping into Staveley for local produce – bread from artisan bakery More? and award winning beer from the Hawkshead Brewery.
Eat at Wilf’s Cafe – it’s an institution in the area for good reason. Great veggie options, food for hungry walkers and cyclists, brekkies and cakes in a really gorgeous riverside setting.
Have a Starly’s Curry – only open on Thurs, Fri, Sat this tiny curry house makes some big flavours. We had a take away and games night at the cottage – yum!
The Eagle and Child does excellent food and is a stunning pub which people travel to eat at. Great veggie and kids meals too.
Don’t be fooled, the Post Office/Newsagents is actually a Tardis, with everything from gifts, to dog bones, to boiled sweets in jars to freshly made sandwiches. The Spar also has most things you need. We also stopped at the Booths on the way out of Windermere to stock up.
Get Foxy at Home
I found myself looking for Foxes, so much so that when I spoke to the cottage owner on the phone, I mentioned I had seen the perfect cushion in a gift shop locally. When I got home I was still hunting foxes, in an absolutely humane way of course – here are my favourites…