At Red Hall Farm in Cumbria, Martin and Joanne Baird, with their two children, are carrying on a family farming tradition which stretches back more than 200 years but they’re also bang up to date with the concept of smart, sustainable farming in the 21st century. The renovation of an old bothy and grain store into a pair of beautifully contemporary holiday cottages is one key part of this, where families can experience life on a working farm and get closer to nature, whilst staying in the lap of luxury.
Besides taking immense pride in their dairy herd of Holstein Fresians, whose milk goes off to make the award-winning Lake District Cheese, the Bairds have won a stack of awards for their ‘farming for wildlife’ ethos, based on the conservation and creation of habitats as well as running the farm to be genuinely eco friendly. With its own wind turbine, water bore hall and energy efficient electricals, the Farm is virtually energy self sufficient and then the Bairds turned their attention to conservation, planting woodland and creating ponds to attract all kinds of wildlife and birds. Up to 86 species of birds have been spotted so far at Red Hall so remember to pack the binos and get little ones twitching! Martin and Joanne can also take families on a nature walk around their 200 acres and children can help feed their baby calves.
To add the two holiday cottages to Red Hall Farm, the Bairds lovingly converted a 200-year old barn, retaining original features, such as exposed brickwork and oak beams, but also giving them the boutique interior treatment. The spacious living rooms have big comfy sofas to snuggle down by a wood burner and watch the Freesat TV or DVD’s, and all the bedrooms have a TV as well, which helps mum and dad have a few hours peace. A modern version of farmhouse dining kitchens are well equipped for family self catering and ideal for leisurely mealtimes and lingering with a coffee, or families can spill outside to the table and chairs on a paved patio. Beyond the patio children can play in a shared grassy area, with a slide, football goals and ride-on toys, or go on a mini beast hunt in the log piles.
Two semi-detached holiday cottages are available at Red Hall Farm – The Old Bothy, which sleeps 4 people plus a baby (1 king & 1 twin), and The Old Grainstore, which sleeps 6 people plus a baby (1 king, 1 double & 1 twin). The two properties can also be rented together to accommodate a group of 10 people plus babies, with three travel cots and three high chairs available.
The Old Grainstore is a stylish and spacious barn conversion cottage for a family of 6 plus up to two babies. The large living room is very smart and comfortable, with a smooth wood floor and contemporary rug, a pair of deep sofas, large Freesat TV, DVD player, iPod dock and wood burning stove. The dining kitchen includes an electric oven with a ceramic hob, microwave, fridge freezer, dishwasher, washing machine and a table with 6 chairs, plus high chairs are available. On the first floor, the master bedroom has a king size bed and an ensuite shower room with a WC. The second bedroom has a double bed and the third has zip link twin beds that can be made up as a Super king-size bed. The master bedroom and double bedroom have space for travel cots and all three bedrooms have a TV. The contemporary-styled family bathroom has a bath with Separate quadrant shower, a washbasin and WC. Outside, the cottage has a patio with a dining table and chairs, plus the farm has a shared grass garden area for children to play. The Old Grainstore has eco friendly central heating and there is free Wi Fi throughout.
Red Hall Farm in Cumbria is just nicely off the busiest tourist trails of the Lake District, between the quieter Northern Lakes and the Solway Coast. The gentle grassy peaks of the Caldbeck Fells are close by, dotted with pretty villages to sample local ales and good food in traditional pubs and cosy tea rooms.
Less than a mile from the cottages, Greenhill Hotel has a sumptuous public bar where light bites and afternoon teas are available as well as a more formal restaurant for special occasions. Just slightly further, in the village of in Bolton Low Houses (1.5 miles), The Oddfellows is a local gem, renowned for its great steaks, takeaway fish and chips on Fridays and a fab Sunday lunch.
The most famous Lakeland poet, William Wordsworth, was born in the bustling market town of Cockermouth (20 mins) and Melvyn Bragg hailed from Wigton, just 3 miles from the Farm. Wigton is a small town that dates back to medieval times and it has a good range of local shops and a Co-Op as well as cafes, pubs, restaurants and a swimming pool and soft play. Lakeland world of animals is just 15 miles away too. Cockermouth is a bigger market town with an attractive high street, Wordsworth’s House Museum and the Kirkgate Centre for arts, theatre and film.
Keswick (18 miles) is the gateway town to the Northern Lakes, including Derwent Water, Bassenthwaite and Thirlmere, between the awesome peaks of Skiddaw and Helvellyn. The town has a thriving cobbled high street and a great choice of shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants, plus a swimming pool with a waterslide, wave machine and pool-side cafe. Keswick is also the home of Lakeland Pencils and families can pay a visit to the pencil museum, or head off to the lake shore to hire a boat on Derwent Water. To the West of Keswick, Whinlatter Forest is a mecca for mountain bikers and children can also play at the adventure playground, do the Gruffalo trail or monkey around in the treetops at the Go Ape adventure course.
Besides all the majestic scenery of the Lake District, Red Hall Farm is only 15 minutes drive from the Solway Coast where much of the amazingly unspoilt landscape has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There is a fine sandy beach at Allonby (12.5 miles), and the Victorian seaside town of Silloth, which are ideal for flying kites and building sand castles, plus the coast is well known for its golf courses and boasts beautiful sunsets.
Nearest medical services: Wigton Medical Centre, 2 miles.