About this listing
Lewis Carroll found inspiration for Alice's Wonderland here, hopefully you will too! World renowned walks, pubs, tea rooms, honesty tables, a mini steam railway, and the kindness of strangers: visiting the Western Lakes is like stepping back in time.
Alice's Historical Wonderland... the 'secret' of (HMS) Volcano is yours to share.
Volcano is an 1850s coach house; open plan, yet cozy: a welcoming home from home where you can relax and unwind. It's a working home, rather than a show home: somewhere could always do with a lick of paint, and the moles sometimes pop through the lawn! It means it's wonderfully practical for muddy wellies, pooches and families; with nothing too precious, where relaxing is the order of the day.
Plenty of windows and 8 foot ceilings lend themselves to a feeling of openness, whilst its location in a small group of houses on a private courtyard amongst woodland, with a multifuel stove (i.e. not the instant 'flick for heat' of central heating, but the satisfaction of a fire well built and tended!), make for a perfect retreat in Summer or Winter.
The 'off grid-ness' relates to all the ways that matter; and all the ways that don't: it's a wonderfully workable home!
Off grid refers to the lack of WiFi in the cottage, and the reduced/non existent mobile phone reception inside the house (there's a secret windowsill where you can pick it up, and which we'll gladly tell you: but, interestingly, no one's ever asked for!). There's no live TV, no traditional central heating (although keeping warm is easy with the multifuel stove plus other heating sources in the cottage), a range oven which uses calor gas (although you'd never know it) rather than mains gas, an unadopted track for access (with a few hearty potholes); and generally just off-grid from the speed and pressures of everyday life.
Mainly it's a fun, restorative way in which to reconnect to the Lakeland landscape and each other; and we get a lot of guests thanking us for not having WiFi in place; but board games instead!
It's remote enough that your nearest chain supermarket is half an hours drive away, but well serviced and connected with local pubs, restaurants, shops and a good road system.
We have three good sized double bedrooms, one of which occupies the whole of the top floor, so is very light, bright and airy, and is accessed via a private staircase which provides privacy, although the bedroom itself doesn't have a door.
Total occupancy is 6. The cottage is able to accommodate 7, depending on the makeup of your group; whether it be children, or someone who's happy to be based on the couch for a couple of days.
We have one family bathroom with a long, deep, free-standing dream of a bath and a lovely rain shower; complete with dimmable lighting for relaxing soaks.
We also have freestanding oil heaters in each room, and we have a large immersion heater to take care of hot water in the kitchen and bathroom should you be too worn out after your Lake District explorations to make a fire on any given evening!
There is parking for up to two cars in the private, off road courtyard; with a short, characterful (in terms of the amount of potholes!) dirt track that approaches it. Our house is at one end of the track, our local pub is at the other.
Our ground floor has the original cobbles and troughs of the coach house. This means practicality in spades for dog paws and muddy wellies; but a potential trip hazard too. You easily get used to it, and it's an amazing feature, but it's worth bearing in mind.
Our sofas are really great for slouching; and are made up of old flags which we have collected over the years. They have a unique, worn, character which we love; but aren't your typical sofa covering!
There is a TV that connects to a DVD player for playing DVDs and music: i.e. no live TV and no WiFi, for off grid bliss. We have an eclectic assortment of films and music at the cottage, or you're welcome to bring your own.
If you're a history buff, try entering Holmrook Hall into Wikipedia, for more detail about the history of the cottage's links to Lewis Carroll, and how it came by its name: (HMS) 'Volcano'. We also have lots of locally sourced research and books at the cottage which you are welcome to browse.
Volcano is your home for the duration, along with the garden, and parking, in a private, off road courtyard, which is shared with the neighbours, for two cars.
Please help yourself to anything you need; from flashlights to wellies, condiments to wooly hats. There are a few personal items around, and a few things hanging in the wardrobe, but nothing that's off limits.
The beauty of Volcano is its freedom: surrounded by footpaths and fields. It was our home, and is now shared with others through Airbnb - so it has all the essentials, but not really anything that's out of bounds: simply enjoy.
Interaction with Guests
We will not be present at the listing, but there is a really complete Welcome Pack with lots of information about the house, area and anything else you could wish to know; and we love answering questions before or during your stay, by email.
Because of the limited phone reception in the area, email's the sure fire way to keep in touch. The local pubs have WiFi, so that's a bonus in terms of an excuse to pop in for a quick half!
It's a 'self check in', with a key safe (the details of which will be in your 'Confirmation and Itinerary email' from Airbnb, along with directions), making for an easy and flexible arrival.
We also have someone we have worked with for years who can be available locally to help with any issues that arise, and we are always at the end of email, although we live in London now.
Volcano was originally part of the stables for Holmrook Hall, which was home to the Lutwidge family, aka Lewis Carroll's Uncle; and, as you exit the cottage straight onto tracks and fields, it's not hard to imagine where the inspiration for timekeeping hares and lazy caterpillars came from!
During the the Second World War the cottage was part of a Royal Navy land base at Holmrook Hall, and was named HMS Volcano. It was the home of the bomb and munitions training school between 1943 and 1946, with a primary purpose of teaching munitions and explosive demolition to Royal Navy personnel and to special forces including many Norwegians. It was a top secret establishment and the locals were told that the hall had been requisitioned as a recuperation hospital for those who had suffered shipwrecks; a version of events many believe to this day.
Neighbourhoods don't come much better than this if you like a lack of street lights and a pub (The Lutwidge Arms) at the end of the track!
Our cottage is the middle of three, off a private courtyard, with parking for up to two cars.
The courtyard in turn accesses a private dirt track, which winds down to the River Irt, and fields and footpaths galore.
Holmrook the village has the life essentials. In no particular order, but I know what our priorities are!: a children's playground, our local pub, small wildflower meadow/village ecology garden, mechanic's garage, agricultural feed store, post office, and petrol station come small grocery store.
Drigg, Santon Bridge, Gosforth and Seascale (all less than ten minutes drive) have another good two handfuls of pubs, takeaways, and small gift shops.
Seascale, just five minutes drive from the cottage, has some of the most spectacular sunsets across the Irish Sea towards the aisle of Man; and Ravenglass is The Lakes' only costal village; with a beautiful estuary for 'mucking about on the water' Swallows and Amazons style, or just watching the sun set over the dunes from the local pub!
The Western Lakes are a privilege to discover. Away from the well trodden tourist trails, Volcano is less than 2 miles from the beach, and less than two miles from the Lake District National Park, with Scafell Pike route at Wasdale Head a beautiful 10 mile drive away. As the road to this route up Scafell follows the contours of Wastwater, it inevitably makes it a slower drive than the ten miles suggests, as the views are so stunning!
Ambleside and Windermere are an hour and a half drive, Lancaster two hours, and Carlisle a similar distance in the opposite direction.
The Cumbrian Coast Mainland Railway is one of the most beautiful railway journeys in England, and it delivers you to within a half hour walk from our door. The Cumbrian Coast line, and L'al Ratty (Cumbrian for: Little Railway) have featured in a BBC programme entitled Britain's Greatest Railway journeys, hosted by Michael Portillo.
Muncaster Castle is also just a five minute drive away and its Owl Sanctuary, falconry show and incredible views (not to mention, haunted bedroom!) make it one of the Lake District's hidden tourist gems. The local grapevine also has it that the new look Top Gear was also filming locally recently.
The recent winner of "Britain's Favourite View", Wastwater is 7 miles from our small village of Holmrook; which manages to squeeze in a post office come agricultural feed store, a petrol station come village store, and, the all important pub - a 4 minute walk (& only because of the lack of street lights!) directly from our front door to theirs.
The A595 is the main artery road through the Western Lakes and will connect you (although it may change name) from Carlisle to Barrow. It is impeccably maintained, is the first road to be gritted or cleared in the snow; and our dirt track accesses directly off it.
The smaller local roads are also well maintained, and wide enough for large cars, with lots of passing spaces should you encounter the familiar sight of a tractor or other farm machinery.
Public transport cannot be said to be convenient in West Cumbria. There is a train line that goes up the West coast, but it's a couple of miles from the house. Ideally you would want a car for longer excursions; but if you would just like to stay local and go on walks and to the pub; you will manage just fine with a taxi on your arrival and departure.
With or without a car, you'll have the opportunity to really embrace the country life: walks straight from the door, a local pub, and a convenience store which can take care of all your immediate needs. We also get Tescos and Asda delivery, and are blessed with an award winning butcher, specialising in bronzed turkeys, and a fifteen minute drive from the cottage is the official provider of 'sausage to the Queen!' We would be happy to help you place a pre order, and can point you in the right direction for other locally sourced specialities.
If you are arriving by train, you will arrive into Drigg: the prettiest railway station we have ever come across in all our travels. It's a little under a two mile walk, so, if you'd prefer a taxi to take the strain, give 'Gosforth Taxis' a call and they will meet you.
Other Things to Note
Whilst we are child friendly, Volcano is not child 'proofed'. It is a quirky and eclectic home which children love; but please be aware that extra attention and care will need to be taken. Please just ask if you'd like to know more about anything.
We do accept one night bookings, and charge a flat rate £50 supplement for these.
Dogs are welcome, and we charge a flat fee of £30 for them, in respect of the additional cleaning required. We ask that they not go on, or up the stairs; or on the furniture, and are not left unattended in the cottage.
We have a well equipped kitchen; with all the equipment necessary to rustle up anything from toast to a roast. Tea and coffee are provided: just bring fresh milk. There are also a few basic pantry items, as well as toiletries, towels and linen available for you at the cottage.
All the kindling, wood, coal (and all important lighter) for the multi fuel stove await you at the cottage too.
We have one highchair and a stairgate which we can make available for you if you let us know in advance of your stay.
There is a well in the garden, which is a very cool feature, and the water from which does wonders for the plants; but which you may want to be aware of. It is on the edge of patio area, and is walled (up to about the bottom of an adult ribcage); but not covered or child/cat/dog proofed in any way.
* Volcano is very much a working home, rather than a show cottage: we're relaxed, and invite you to be the same.
* Simply treat it as you would wish other's to treat your home, and when you're on your way out, leave it as it was when you arrived, and as you'd like to come home to!
* We ask for your help with doing the washing up before you leave.
* Please no overnight guests other than those mentioned at the time of booking, and no parties.
* Volcano has a septic tank, so please only ever put toilet paper in the toilet.
* The kitchen counters are wood; so please don't put anything overly hot, or overly wet, or cut, directly on them. There is a huge offcut used as a chopping board and pan rest though; which you are welcome to hack away at!
* Our neighbours are our friends, and the community is a small one. It would be great if you could be a part of it by respecting the neighbours, including the cows, sheep and otters... :-)
* Please observe quiet time between 10pm - 8am out of respect for the neighbours.
* Whilst you may enjoy cuddles (with the animals not the neighbours!), please do not feed or invite them into the cottage; as it confuses them, and future guests!
* We don't smoke, and would be grateful if you didn't either, inside, or anywhere near the cottage or our neighbours' homes (please be careful when disposing of butts too, in terms of fire risk and litter etc.).
* If you are travelling with dogs we ask that they never be left unattended in the cottage or in the garden or courtyard unless in a travelling crate.
* No dogs or shoes on the stairs, upstairs, or on the furniture.
* Other bits and pieces are in the Welcome Pack at the cottage; along with loads of local information, books, maps, and things to do...
The garden in its full Summer glory - Review: "The cottage exceeded our expectations, was very well equipped and has a nice garden which we made use of in the sunny evenings."
We're a couple who love the Airbnb concept: staying with, and sharing our home with others: friends, family, house exchangers and house sitters!
We found our dream home in the Lake District, although life currently has other plans for us that involve not being there as much as we'd like. This gives us the wonderful opportunity to meet new people through Airbnb.
We work hard to create a home that we adore coming back to, and which enables us to go forth and get to know the rest of the world we haven't met yet!