Southern Lake District Garden Tour
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Food & drink
Visit a myriad spectacular and varied gardens nestled amongst dramatic mountain and lake scenery. Highlights include Sizergh Castle, Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top, the walled garden at Holehird and the magnificent Holker Hall gardens.
- Plethora of wild and exotic plants at Holker Hall Gardens
- Beatrix Potter's Hill Top farmhouse garden
- Brantwood – former home of Victorian art critic and garden enthusiast John Ruskin
- High quality Full Board en-suite accommodation and excellent food in our Country House
- The guidance and services of our knowledgeable HF Holidays’ leader, ensuring you get the most from your holiday
- All essential transport to and from gardens on a comfortable, good-quality mini-coach with PA system
- All garden admissions costs (please note this does not include entrance to stately homes/houses, for which there is a separate admission fee)
As an historic National Trust property, Monk Coniston is full of romantic, gothic-style charm. With the attractive Lake District setting, it's well suited to a relaxing holiday. Whether it's a walking or activity break you're after, this is a wonderful part of the country to explore your way.
Monk Coniston has 33 bedrooms. Some are located in the main house, with others in the adjoining cottage and counting house.
These rooms are all ensuite and furnished to a good standard. They include:
These rooms are slightly larger and/or have a better view. They include:
Only an extra £15 per person per night
These rooms truly are the best in the house for extra luxury during your stay. They include:
Only an extra £20 per person per night
Choose Your Room: Our new “Choose Your Room” service is available at our UK country houses, providing the option to choose and confirm a specific room for an extra £30 per room. Supplements to upgrade to 'Better' or 'Best' rooms still apply. The choice of room number must be of the same room type as originally booked and is subject to availability.
At the house
|All holidays at our Country Houses are full board accommodation including evening meal on arrival to breakfast on the day of your departure. All of our Country Houses have a well-stocked bar serving local beers, wine and spirits.
√ Start your day with our extensive breakfast.
Just relax and take it easy, or if you'd like to continue to chat with our guides and fellow guests then why not grab a drink or take part in one of our optional evening activities.
All of our bars are stocked with locally sourced drinks so you can really soak up your surroundings.
Due to the age and the layout of Monk Coniston, it is not recommended for wheelchair users and guests with restricted mobility. There are ground floor en-suite bedrooms in the Counting House, but this building is access via steps.
- Fire procedure is displayed in each room and explained to guests on arrival. Guests requiring assistance at an evacuation are identified at this time and door hanger cards are issued
- Mobile phone reception is generally good from the main building
- Assistance dogs accompanying visually or hearing impaired guests are welcome; dogs must be kept on a lead or harness at all times
- Information can be provided in large print
- Staff have received disability awareness training
- Special diets can be catered for. Specialist food can be obtained with prior notice
- Fridge for medication can be supplied
Saturday: Arrival day
You can check in to your room from 2.30pm onwards. Please join us for afternoon tea at 4pm. All guests are invited – we’ll introduce your leader and welcome you to your holiday.
Sunday: Holehird, Hill Top & Brantwood
Firstly we visit the Lakeland Horticultural Society’s garden Holehird, voted one of the nation’s favourite. The society maintains three national collections: astilbe, hydrangea and polystichum. We then cross Windermere by ferry to see Beatrix Potters’ Hill Top garden and Brantwood, the former home of keen gardener, John Ruskin. Set in a 250-acre woodland estate, there are seven different mountainside gardens with great views over Coniston.
Please note that both today’s gardens are on hillsides and the terrain may be rough underfoot.
Monday: Levens Hall & Sizergh Castle
Levens Hall is famous for its topiary gardens which were laid out in 1694 by G Beaumont (who trained at Versailles). The garden features England’s first ha-ha, and one of the UK’s top 50 trees. Next is Sizergh Castle (National Trust), which is famous for its limestone rock garden, started in the 1920's by Hayes of Ambleside. It has many mature acers and heathers, and half the national collection of hardy ferns.
Tuesday: Muncaster Castle
We visit the most northerly cork tree, located in St Mary’s church yard, Gosforth. We then visit Muncaster Castle, set in 70 acres. The 6th baronet subscribed to the Ludlow, Sheriff and Kingdon-Ward botanical expeditions. The collection of Sino-Himalayan rhododendron was considered the largest in Europe.
Wednesday: Free day
A free day for you to explore the local area or to relax in the Country House.
Thursday: Holker Hall & NGS's Yewbarrow
Our first stop is the picturesque village of Cartmel, which has a medieval church and the remains of a medieval priory. Then comes Holker Hall, where the highlights of our tour are the many rare, exotic plants that thrive in the mild micro-climate. Next is Grange-over-Sands by Morecambe Bay. Here we visit the first NGS garden, Yewbarrow. Once a typical English country garden, in the past ten years it has been transformed by the owner.
Friday: Hutton-in-the-Forest & Askham Hall
Our first visit takes us to see the superb and historic gardens at Hutton-in-the-Forest, where elaborate gardens were planted from the 17th century. Then it's on to the Grade II-listed gardens of Askham Hall with its colourful terraces, a 230ft herbaceous border, kitchen garden, formal lawns, woodland, meadows and ponds.
Saturday: Depart after a leisurely breakfast
We wish we could, but we can’t manage the weather, traffic jams or other venue’s operations, so if this holiday needs to change for those, or any other reasons, your leader will help smooth the way.
Discover the Lake District
Monk Coniston is an imposing Gothic property leased from the National Trust and set in 8 acres of grounds, including a restored walled garden and the impressive arboretum. Some particularly impressive specimens, including a giant sequoia (the largest tree in the world) and the wollemi pine can be explored on the Monk Coniston Tree Trail.
Views from the property offer breathtaking glimpses of Coniston Water and the surrounding mountains.
Coniston village is about one mile away – there is a direct path from the house to the village. Here you’ll find a small supermarket, post office, newsagent, pubs and a Barclays Bank (open 3 times a week). A wider range of facilities is available in Ambleside, the nearest town, about 8 miles away. The Ruskin Museum is also well worth a visit - find out more about the lake's connections to Donald Campbell and Arthur Ramsome. www.ruskinmuseum.com
During your visit to Monk Coniston you may enjoy visiting the following places of interest:
Steam Yacht Gondola
First cruising Coniston Water 150 years ago, the restored gondola is now operated by the National Trust, stopping at the Monk Coniston jetty at the bottom of the meadow below the house before gliding across the lake, calling at Coniston village and Brantwood House. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/steam-yacht-gondola
Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway
Ride ‘L’al Ratty’ a highly scenic narrow gauge railway which runs from the coast at Ravenglass along beautiful Eskdale. You could combine a visit with a walk over Muncaster Fell, or to Stanley Gill waterfall. www.ravenglass-railway.co.uk
Just a couple of miles from Monk Coniston, John Ruskin's former home commands superb views over the lake. www.brantwood.org.uk
A short walk from the Country House, this man-made water was created by Monk Coniston’s resident owner, James Garth Marshall in 1865, as he continued to develop the estate and expand his pleasure grounds. He built a dam to flood the area, amalgamating several smaller tarns, before planting the shores and islands with new woodlands and specimen trees.
Nearby Grizedale Forest is ideal for mountain biking and also has a popular sculpture trail. You can also experience the Go Ape! high-ropes course – a great option for active teenagers. www.forestry.gov.uk/grizedale
Visit this stately home, famous for its magnificent formal garden and topiary displays. www.levenshall.co.uk
Grasmere is about 30 minutes’ drive from Monk Coniston and is famous for its connections with William Wordsworth. The poet’s homes at Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount can be visited, the former of which includes the Wordsworth Museum. www.wordsworth.org.uk
Take a cruise along the length of Windermere - England's largest lake. Ferries connect Ambleside in the north to Bowness and Lakeside in the south, where you can connect with the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway. www.windermere-lakecruises.co.uk, www.lakesiderailway.co.uk
Gondola image ©National Trust Images/Paul Harris
Travel to Conistonwater
Our address is: Monk Coniston, Coniston, Cumbria LA21 8AQ
The nearest train station is at Windermere. For train times and general rail enquiries visit www.nationalrail.co.uk or call 03457 484950 (from outside the UK call +44 20 7278 5240).
The 13 mile journey from Windermere railway station takes approximately 30 minutes. Pre-booked taxis cost approx £27. Details of our current recommended taxi company and rates will be sent to you with your booking. The taxi company will arrange shared taxis wherever possible. The return taxi journey can be arranged on your behalf by the Monk Coniston Manager.
From Windermere station you can catch the 505 bus direct to Monk Coniston - the bus stop is right outside our Country House. Journey time is around 50 minutes. For bus times see www.traveline.info
From Ambleside take the A593 signposted to Coniston. Turn sharp left over a narrow bridge, then after half a mile turn left onto the B5286, signposted to Hawkshead. About 3 miles along this road, and just before Hawkshead, turn right onto the B5285, signposted to Coniston. Follow this road over Hawkshead Hill. The road descends then goes around a 180° bend to the left. The entrance to Monk Coniston is on the left about 100yds after the bend. There is car parking available within the grounds.
Travelling from overseas
For most guests the most convenient option is to book a flight to Manchester Airport. There are direct trains every hour from Manchester Airport to Oxenholme - this is straightforward journey - allow 1½ hours to Oxenholme. See www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times.
From Oxenholme station you can complete the journey to Monk Coniston by bus or taxi (see above).
Flying to London Heathrow airport is another option, but has a longer onward train journey - allow at least 4 hours to reach Oxenholme. From Heathrow first take the train to London Paddington station. Next take the Underground train to London Euston. Finally the main line train from London Euston to Oxenholme takes 2½ hours. See www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times.
Christine is a freelance plantswoman and horticulturist. She is a national and international lecturer, TV and radio broadcaster, author, botanical guide, trainer, garden designer and photographer. Christine is a Lancastrian living in Hertfordshire with her dog Willow. She began gardening at the age of ten and now gardens in a cottage garden style with a keen interest in alpines, herbaceous plants, trees and shrubs. She has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate from The University of Essex for her contribution to horticulture. Christine is much loved following her highly successful BBC 2 TV series Christine’s Garden. For more information visit www.christinewalkden.com
Christine led the tour superbly with her considerable knowledge, humour, consideration, and 'down to earth' company which enhanced the garden visits considerably. She also provided excellent evening entertainment with her "Gardeners' Question Time".
Dates & Prices
We're sorry, there are no dates available for this holiday at the moment. Please check out our other tours and breaks or call our team on 0345 470 8558 to be notified of new dates as soon as they become available.
Prices are per person
- Premium single room: £15 per night
- Premium twin/double room: £15 per person per night
- Non-member associate fee: £10 per person
We like to reward early bookers with our best rooms so book early to avoid disappointment.
Please note that we aren't able to take room number requests as we are unable to guarantee them.