The Boathouse at Knotts End

Lake District, Northern England, United Kingdom Book from £180

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 from May to Oct you get a rowing boat for exploring the lake)
  • A great location for outdoor activities: hike up Helvellyn, sail on the lake, or sit and bird-watch 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, walking maps and board games
  • Friendly and helpful local caretakers in case you get in a fix/have a query

Lows

  • No WiFi or TV reception (though there is a DVD player), and you'll struggle to get a mobile signal
  • The living space is small and open-plan, and there's limited storage for clothes/shoes/stuff
  • No drying facilities other than the bathroom radiator if you get wet; not ideal in such a rainy place
  • The rowing boat is not available during the winter months (31st October - 1st April) but prices are adjusted to reflect this
  • 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. On a practical note, bring sensible footwear for walking in the surrounding grounds, and a pair of comfy slippers for padding about inside.

Great for...

Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = 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
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 armchair, a chic oak table, and a wood-burning stove for cosy evenings. Bring DVDs, 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.

Features include:

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

Eating

The stylish oak kitchen is perfect for rustling up lazy breakfasts or suppers. 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 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:

  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Food blender
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob stove
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Shopping service
  • Toaster
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

  • If you’re feeling adventurous, there's a rowing boat waiting for you in the watery garage below (available for use May-October only). Sailing boats, dinghies, canoes and kayaks can also be hired at Glenridding Sailing Centre

  • 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
  • Historical sites
  • Mountain biking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Sailing
  • Swimming

Kids

This is a rental for 2 adults only.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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Rates for The Boathouse at Knotts End