The Lake District

Driving southwest along the A592 road from Penrith, you can't miss the striking salmon-pink facade of Dalemain, a mile from Ullswater's northern tip. With a name deriving from the Old Norse for 'manor in the valley', this elegant country estate traces its roots back to the reign of Henry II. Inside it's the picture of an English country house – half Gosford Park set, half three-dimensional Cluedo board, with a bewildering maze of passages, spiralling staircases and interconnecting rooms.

Although the Georgian facade was constructed during the mid-18th century, behind its orderly frontage are the remnants of a 12th-century pele tower and an Elizabethan manor. Since 1679 the house has been owned by the Hasell dynasty.

Family photos and heirlooms are dotted around amongst the antiques, Chippendale furniture and priceless oil portraits. Highlights include the Chinese Room with its handmade oriental wallpaper, the Tudor Fretwork Room, with its oak panelling and ornate plaster ceiling, and the fascinating servants' quarters. Tea is served in the medieval Great Hall.

Outside, the grounds feature a Tudor knot garden and a wonderful rose walk. The 16th-century Great Barn houses two small agricultural museums, while in the base of the Norman pele tower is a museum dedicated to the Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry regiment, founded in 1819 and disbanded shortly after WWI.

The house hosts lots of festivals and events throughout the year, including country shows, tractor meets, classic car displays and a thoroughly British Marmalade Festival, held in March.

The Mansions, Boots & Boats Ticket (adult/child £20/7.90) also includes an all-day pass aboard Ullswater 'Steamers'. It can only be purchased online through the Dalemain website.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby The Lake District attractions

1. Rheged


Cunningly disguised as a Lakeland hill 2 miles west of Penrith, this visitor centre houses an IMAX cinema and temporary exhibitions. There's also a large…

2. Penrith Castle

2.01 MILES

The ruins of Penrith Castle loom on the edge of town opposite the train station. Built in the 14th century by William Strickland (later Bishop of Carlisle…

3. St Andrews Church

2.33 MILES

Penrith's name derives from an old Celtic word meaning 'red fell', and the area's crimson sandstone is clear to see in many of the town's buildings,…

4. Lowther Estate


This sprawling country estate once belonged to one of the Lake District's most venerable families and is currently undergoing a huge, multimillion-pound…

5. Howtown & Martindale

5.71 MILES

Ullswater's west side gets busy, but few people take the time to explore the lake's eastern side. The little hamlet of Howtown is perfect for an…

6. Gowbarrow Park & Aira Force

7.08 MILES

This rolling park stretches out across the lakeshore between Pooley Bridge and Glenridding. Well-marked paths lead up to the impressive 20m-high waterfall…

7. Castlerigg Stone Circle

12.47 MILES

Set on a hilltop a mile east of town, this jaw-dropping stone circle consists of 48 stones that are between 3000 and 4000 years old, surrounded by a…

8. Keswick Museum

13.84 MILES

Keswick's quirky town museum explores the area's history, from ancient archaeology through to the arrival of industry in the Lakes. It's a diverse…