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Tuesday, 05 July 2016

Otley Beck cottage at Howe Foot near Coniston Water

We woke to the sight of sheep nibbling in the field below our window and fell asleep to the sound of the stream chuckling past the cottage. After five years of watching Sue and Martin Hawkard create a second self-catering property at their home of Howe Foot near Coniston Water, we were finally here to stay for three nights. We wished it were thirty.

Otley Beck is not just a labour of love and longevity but an example of the highest standards of craftsmanship. Huge oak roofing timbers, Tilberthwaite slate on floors and kitchen worktops, a lovely aqua-coloured Aga, glazed tiles in the bathroom, polished slate for the window cills, underfloor heating and Fired Earth paint colours are some of its features. And all the building work, furnishing and decorating done by Sue and Martin themselves.

By day we toured the immediate area, taking in the Duddon Valley, the wonderful beach of Silecroft near Millom and an area around Coniston Water. By night we cooked on the striking looking Aga, using the Aga cooking pans, the Sabatier knives and Emma Bridgewater plates, and then cosied up beside the wood burning stove in the living/dining room. One night to watch Coldplay at Glastonbury...in the warm.

Brantwood, John Ruskin’s home for 29 years, lies a few miles to the north of this enchanting little spot and I can pay no greater compliment to Otley Beck than say that the Victorian polymath - himself a champion of the Arts and Crafts movement - would have been full of admiration for the love, care and attention to detail which has gone into creating this perfect ‘cottage for two’.

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