Photo: a fairy circle in the woods.

The Grounds

Ravenbridge Mill sits in its own grounds of 21 acres, bounded mostly by the river to the north, and rising up to the south, through gardens, orchard and fields to the old woods at the top. The lake extends to about an acre and a half.

The stone-walled courtyard garden, right outside the kitchen door, is sheltered and lovely when the sun shines (which it often does in Cumbria!) There are plenty of seats, a couple of garden tables, and a little fire pit for cooking. You can pick anything you like from the full herb garden (but do check before you eat it!) And there’s a stone garden – either for meditating, or for artistic stone balancing. It’s surprising how competitive stone balancing can get…

The Studio also looks onto the courtyard. There’s a pool table in the Studio. There’s also a stage and a dressing-up box for the theatrically inclined.

Beyond the courtyard, which is gated, there’s plenty of space for running about. There’s a trampoline, and a badminton net.

The lake and the sauna

The lake is special, whatever the season or the weather. There are a couple of boats available to take on the lake, with buoyancy aids. And the brave will definitely want to swim (please take normal safety precautions – the water’s cold, and up to 6m deep).

And, of course, there’s the sauna. Across the lake from the house, and camouflaged among the trees, the cord-wood and grass-roofed sauna is always a favourite. Plenty of wood will be supplied for you, and you can easily spend a couple of hours alternating between hot sauna and cold lake.

The Raven Beck, and the smaller Kiln Beck which runs into it, are great for scrambling. Just be aware that it’s only safe when the water is low – in spate the Raven can be a spectacular force.

The lake through the seasons

When to visit

In season you can pick all the fruit you can eat – rhubarb, raspberries, blackcurrants, plums, apples.

There are new, and maturing, coppices to explore, fields to run wild in, and in the woods at the top of the site you can build shelters, and find magical kingdoms…