High Lickbarrow Farm is a traditional Lakeland farmhouse set in a peaceful location just outside the village of Windermere. A relatively new addition to the National Trust’s collection of Lake District properties, it’s also a very unusual one. Although it isn’t open to the general public in the same way as most NT properties, you can book in advance to see it (free as a member), and I was fortunate enough to be able to visit recently on a pre-booked tour with the Windermere Civic Society.
Michael, his parents, and his sister Elizabeth moved to the 106-acre farm from outside the area in 1947.
Elizabeth was passionate about animals, wildlife, and working outdoors, and devoted her life to the labour-intensive task of running the farm using a traditional conservation approach to land management, helped by her father. There were no artificial inputs, the farm was grazed by cattle, and very little machinery was used. Therefore, the land has an incredible biodiversity, and a large proportion of it is designated as a site of special scientific interest due to the wild flowers growing in the fields.
At the beginning of our visit to High Lickbarrow, we heard a talk about the Bottomley family and their life on the farm. Elizabeth, who died in 2003, sounded a fascinating and determined character, who was devoted to her work.
Following the talk, we were left to take a look around the farmhouse for ourselves. Although the family were not poor, they lived simply. The cottage looks exactly as it would have done when the family lived there, and visitors can look freely through Michael’s collections of books and artwork.
Somehow it didn’t feel respectful to take photographs of all the rooms as a whole, so instead I’ve included a few images to give you a feel for the atmosphere of the cottage.
The land belonging to High Lickbarrow is still home to 25 Blue Albion cattle, a very rare breed of cattle that Elizabeth introduced to the farm over 20 years ago. Amazingly, there are only 157 breeding females in the country.
On our visit, the cattle were too far from the farmhouse to be spotted, but we were able to see pictures of them in a book about the house. As yet, they are not recognised as a true breed, and so cannot be placed on the endangered breeds list.
We were also able to take a look outside at the barn, and the lovely old forms of transport still inside!
Because parking at the farmhouse is limited, we were asked to walk up the narrow road to the farm from Park Road, just outside Windermere. The countryside has a very distinctive feel to it – quite different to anywhere else in the Lake District – and we came across signposts to rights of way through the land on our way up. We also couldn’t help noticing just how many benches there were in the area!
At the moment it isn’t clear how the National Trust will look after High Lickbarrow in the long-term. Because of the cottage’s location, it can’t be opened to the public on a day-to-day basis in the same way as other National Trust houses, but will continue to take pre-arranged bookings for 2018 for groups of two people and more.
To find out more, visit High Lickbarrow’s profile on the National Trust website.
What is the most unusual National Trust property you have visited in the Lake District? Share your experiences with other readers by leaving a comment below!