The Boathouse at Knotts End

Lake District, Northern England, United Kingdom Book from £155

Reviewed by Helen Pickles
A boathouse bolthole with private lakeshore in stunning Lake District scenery; the ultimate romantic rental (sleeps 2, self-catering)
It’s so tucked away you’ll zip past the entrance, yet it’s only 15 minutes from the M6. Perched on the western shores of Ullswater, in the northeastern Lake District, this19th-century stone boathouse keeps the world at bay: no neighbours, no passing cars, a private stretch of waterfront and unbroken views to the fells.

On first sight, after you’ve bumped down the track between copses and fields, the boathouse, shaded by trees, looks ridiculously small. Step through the arched oak doors, however, and it does a Tardis-like transformation, helped by the open-plan style, pale rafters and walls, and the slate floor that runs throughout. To the right is a gleaming, modern bathroom, on the left a run of swish kitchen units that lead into the bijou living area with its battered leather sofa and wood-burning stove. And at the far end is the bedroom, where arched French windows open to a balcony and glorious views. Furnishings are a comfortable mix of contemporary and antique - Moroccan lamps, Indonesian chests, modern oak - with bright silks adding shots of colour. Breakfast on the balcony, head out for hikes or boat trips, then dine cosily indoors or on the terrace under the stars.

Highs

  • Gloriously romantic set-up and setting - you'll never tire of the captivating views and you get a rowboat to explore the lake
  • A great location for outdoor activities: hike up Helvellyn, sail or kayak on the lake, or sit and birdwatch from your balcony
  • Well-equipped for self-catering, with various areas to dine: the balcony, a picnic table under the trees, and a sunny terrace with a BBQ. Good local restaurants, too
  • Lots of nice, homely touches: a Nespresso machine, a DVD library, cookbooks, walking maps and board games
  • Friendly and helpful local caretakers in case you get in a fix/have a query

Lows

  • Due to flooding, The Boathouse is currently closed; new bookings can only be taken for March 2016 onward (after which decor may vary slightly from the images displayed)
  • Limited storage for clothes/shoes/stuff, so be selective when you pack
  • The living space is small and open-plan, so you won't want to cook smelly food
  • No TV reception (though there is a DVD player), and you'll struggle to get a mobile signal or decent radio station
  • No drying facilities other than the bathroom radiator if you get wet; not ideal in such a rainy place
  • Fairly strict cancellation policy

Best time to go

The Boathouse is open throughout the year, with each season having its attractions: it's a cosy hideaway in winter, and fabulous for autumn colours, fresh spring walking, and dreamy summer days on the lake. Being the Lake District, of course, the weather is capricious; expect rain at any time. If it’s snowy, the scenery is sensational but you might also find (unless it’s 4-wheel drive) that your car can’t cope with the track.

Our top tips

  • Sleep with the French windows open; the sound of the waves lapping, the trees rustling and the odd duck and bird calling as you snuggle in bed is heavenly
  • Bring sensible footwear for walking in the grounds outside The Boathouse, and a pair of slippers/Crocs/similar for padding about inside
  • Great for...

    Great Outdoors
    Honeymoon
    • = Makes the grade
    • = Best in region
    • = World favourite
    • Boutique Cottage
    • 1
    • Self-catering (restaurants nearby)
    • Over 16s only
    • Closed: 10 Dec 2015 - 29 Feb 2016
    • Pool
    • Spa Treatments
    • WiFi
    • Pet Friendly
    • Disabled Access
    • Beach Nearby
    • Off-street Parking
    • Restaurants Nearby
    • Air Conditioning
    • Guest Lounge
    • Terrace
    • Garden
    • Gym
    • Daily Maid Service
    • Towels & Bedlinen
    • Games
    • Rowing boat
    Room:

    Rooms

    The boathouse is basically one big open-plan space. Although the bedroom can be self-contained by closing folding doors to the living area, it seems pointless and would make the space feel very small. The queensize bed has super-soft white bedlinen and heaps of velvet, silk and linen cushions in bright copper, chocolate and woodland green. Silk curtains frame the French windows (we slept with them open) and there’s just enough furniture not to crowd the space: an antique armoire, a chair, wooden stools for bedside tables, and a couple of rugs.

    The living area is designed for 2: a battered leather sofa, a big cream armchair, a chic oak table, and a wood-burning stove for cosy evenings. There’s a great selection of DVDs (When Harry met Sally, Lost in Translation), but it's so isolated there’s no TV reception, and barely a radio signal; bring CDs and an iPod and there’s a system to play them. Candles and dimmable lights up the romance factor.

    The bathroom squeezes in modern white units, a chrome radiator and a spacious walk-in shower. Aromatherapy Associates toiletries are a nice touch.

    Throughout, electric radiators give instant heat if you want a quick blast, and Velux skylights provide additional light to the French windows. Walls are unadorned apart from a few scenic black-and-white photographs. Books of walks, an OS Map, a bird-watching book, local leaflets, a set of boules and assorted games provide activity suggestions. And there’s a rowing boat (lifejackets provided) waiting for you in the watery garage below.

    Features include:

    • Terrace
    • Phone
    • Tv
    • Dvd player
    • Radio
    • Ipod dock
    • Central heating
    • Fireplace
    • Terrace
    • Bathrobes
    • Toiletries
    • Full kitchen
    • Fridge
    • Oven
    • Microwave
    • Hob stove
    • Coffee tea making
    • Coffee maker
    • Barbeque
    • Toaster
    • Food blender
    • Dishwasher
    • Iron
    • Hairdryer
    • Cookbooks
    • Rowing boat

    Eating

    The stylish oak kitchen is perfect for rustling up lazy breakfasts, suppers or gourmet meals using the River Café and Gordon Ramsay cookbooks. Small but well kitted-out with a ceramic hob, oven/grill, dishwasher, Nespresso machine and a fleet of cooking utensils, including blenders, a griddle pan and a casserole pot, it has all you need.

    Breakfast on the balcony is a must (bring a fleece for cooler mornings). Lunch and dinner could be at the picnic table under the trees, inside, or out on the terrace by the jetty. There’s a BBQ out here, too.

    Basics such as milk, coffee and tea are provided; i-escape guests will get a bottle of wine, too. You'll find kitchen essentials such as dishwasher tablets in the cupboards. Head to Penrith (20 minutes away) for supermarkets. Our choice would be Cranstons, a family butchers that’s opened a food hall stocking regional produce. Similar, but smaller, is the Taste shop at Rheged (12 minutes away); particularly good for cheese. The village store at Pooley Bridge, 5km away, is fine for staples.

    Restaurant-wise, the Macdonald Leeming House Hotel is walkable (1km) and has a lake-view terrace plus an elegant dining room serving dishes such as wild sea bass. For push-the-boat-out dining, there’s Michelin-starred Sharrow Bay, a 20-minute drive. Brackenrigg Inn (on the road to Pooley Bridge) does hearty Cumbrian dishes such as rump of Lakeland lamb, while the 18th-century Treetops Café and Takeaway in Pooley Bridge does great fish and chips.

    Features include:

    • Shopping service
    • Full kitchen
    • Fridge
    • Oven
    • Microwave
    • Hob stove
    • Coffee tea making
    • Coffee maker
    • Toaster
    • Food blender
    • Walk to restaurants
    Eating:
    Activity:

    Activities

    • Walking is glorious, whether a hike up Helvellyn (there’s a starting point at Glenridding at the bottom end of the lake), a stroll along the lakeshore, or something in-between such as the woodland walk up to Aira Force waterfall (on the way to Glenridding) and then on to Gowbarrow Fell. A book of local walks is provided

    • Take the rowing boat out on the lake (remember the lifejackets!) with a picnic

    • If you’re feeling more adventurous, there are sailing boats, dinghies, canoes and kayaks to hire at Glenridding Sailing Centre; lessons are available, too

    • And there’s nothing - apart from the temperature - to stop you from taking a dip in the lake, so bring your cozzies

    • Pretty-pink Dalemain House, 9.5km (6 miles) away hides medieval, Tudor and splendid Georgian rooms. The grounds include a Tudor knot garden, a rose walk, an ancient apple orchard and riverside walks

    • A lovely way to view the lake and fells is from the deck of the Ullswater Steamers, which ply the lake year-round with stops at Pooley Bridge, Howtown and Glenridding

    • On wet days (and there are quite a few!), the Rheged Centre in Penrith is a good option. It's a rather odd but attractive mix of a 3D film cinema, craft, gift and clothes shops, a food hall, restaurants and exhibitions

    • Take the road south past lonely Brothers Water and over the heart-stopping Kirkstone Pass to busy but colourful Ambleside for pottering, cruising on Windermere, the Armitt Museum’s quirky collection of Lakeland writers' and artists’ work and memorabilia, and tearooms galore (the Apple Pie Café is recommended)

    • Sit on the balcony or terrace with a book

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Birdwatching
    • Boat trips
    • Cycling
    • Fishing
    • Hiking
    • History religious
    • Kayaking
    • Plantlife
    • Sailing
    • Swimming
    • Mountain biking

    Kids

    This is a rental for 2 adults only.

    Kid Friendly:

    Our guests' ratings...

    10/
    Rooms
    6/
    Food
    9/
    Service
    9/
    Value
    8/
    Overall

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