My mother and I stayed here in July 2006; due to unfortunate circumstances my mother went to hospital and my sister stayed too.

Fair Hill is bed and breakfast accommodation consisting of one side of two joined houses built in 1894 as tied cottages on the Calder Abbey Estate. There are two single rooms downstairs at font and back, two singles upstairs and one twin room at the front (this is where I stayed) in the northern house. There is a toilet and shower upstairs and a toilet next to the back bedroom downstairs. Also downstairs there is a lounge for visitors' use and a kitchen area. There is a television in the lounge, and in all rooms (note that Cumbria is the first region to go completely digital only, proving to be something of a headache in a house like this). Meals are taken in the lounge dining area of the other house. There is a lockable joining door between the two houses downstairs; there used to be one upstairs for the Rymers but has not been used since both were bricked up.
Mr and Mrs Blackburn have lived in their side for 44 years, and for a time their relatives lived in the other side. After that side became empty Mrs Blackburn was able to move into bed and breakfast.
The rooms are good, and so is the generous food in the morning, but best of all is their friendliness and attention. The hosts are hands on and David Blackburn especially comes into the residents side to use the freezer that is there for the whole house (or houses) and to lock up. They are genuine, friendly and interested. Watch the single step on the landing: the light comes in and illuminates it but it can indeed be missed.
The garden across the road doubles up as residents' car parking. The garage is for the owners (on the Bed and Breakfast side). It is big enough to turn around in.

The main feature of the accommodation must however be the views, especially to the south west, west and north. It is a location in itself. To the south west in the distance is the Sellafield nuclear station, in a long process of being wound down.

People might react to this view differently, but I thought it fitted into its wooded setting and gives a focus in that direction. In front to the west fields sweep down towards the sea. Only sometimes can the Isle of Man be seen, and I saw it twice when the sun from north of it had dropped. The fields are best lit in mornings for the view with a blue sea visually above them; in the evenings the house is lit from the west and takes on a golden hue.

The bed and breakfast is located on the road between Calderbridge and Ennerdale Bridge. The actual Calder Abbey is nearby, and a farmer down a very long dead end road up a hill told me most of Calder Bridge was built with its stones. Calder Abbey also referred to the hall, which is now an empry shell, and occupants from it lived in the houses. Mary Blackburn was the last domestic servant in the hall, although there are some perhaps caretakers still there.
Being a little off centre regarding the Lake District, the accommodation has offered rooms to people who commute to Sellafield. Some stay for years. They have been the bread and butter of the accommodation whereas tourists are the jam. There is a mini rush hour in the morning of people going to Sellafield. Locals tend to drive faster than the tourists. Going more in a northerly direction, the road climbs until it goes over moorland. Up there, watch for a bend that sweeps sharply right around a hill - the unsuspecting (like me) can miss a beat. Despite being out of the heart of the Lake District, the road is in the direction for routes to nearby Loweswater and then on to Ennerdale Water. From there it is a short distance via other roads to get to the B road that is busy in summer, despite being narrow, that passes Crummock Water, Buttermere and rises over the Honister Pass before becoming more like a B road and passing Derwent Water on the way to Keswick. Going south to Gosforth a road begins that goes to Wastwater, ending as a cul de sac and car park at an inn at Wastdale Head.
Calderbridge has a church, a garage, pub and accommodation and a river in a pleasant sitting spot. Nearby Egremont has its market on Friday. Egremont Castle is a set of ruins with a high viewpoint. St Bees is a coastal village nearby to it with beach and cliff. The village is the start of the coast to coast walk all the way to Robin Hood's Bay in North Yorkshire. Going south for a short drive is Ravenglass with the miniature railway up into Eskdale, and Muncaster Castle. Ravenglass reminded me in part of Robin Hood's Bay and Staithes, in how its buildings come sharply to the water's edge. There is a beach there and boats are moored. The biggest town near Fair Hill is Whitehaven, its background relating to coal, which now discourages parking through its disc zone nonsense and other restrictions (discs can be obtained from a Tourist Information Office, but there is only five minutes grace to go and get one to display). Fortunately there are the usual selection of supermarkets and shops that provide their own car parking. Further on is Maryport with its huge divided harbour and history of shipping.

Fair Hill
CA20 1DY

01946 841296


Adrian Worsfold