By now, it’s probably no secret: I have a thing for old houses. I have relationships with them. I build entire trips around them. I study their crevices and crown moldings and broken floor tiles, making up stories about the people who spent lifetimes living and dreaming in their rooms. And when I find one like this 16th-century farmhouse, which is totally isolated, accessible only by foot (or a rambling old pick-up truck that will pick you up in a nearby town), then thoughtfully outfitted by a bunch of artists, I’m so happy I have people to share it with.
The premise is brilliant: The contemporary arts organization Grizedale Arts collaborated with the National Trust to fix up, furnish and decorate the space (but not too much), turning the historical stone house into a pared-back retreat for artists and writers and anyone else who needs a bonafide escape plan from the modern world. Inside, there’s a library with a wood-burning stove, kitchen with wood-burning oven, well-worn, spartan furniture and a collection of paraffin lamps. Outside, rolling hills, forrest and a compostable outhouse. This means no electricity, running water or phone reception. In other words, bliss for those who agree that the ultimate luxury these days is peace, solitude and a dreamy old house on a big swath of pretty land.
$650 a week. Sleeps six people in three bedrooms. Rent it at Welcome Beyond. All within walking distance: birdwatching, fishing and pub- and shop-filled old villages. Also, Lawson Park–historic Cumbrian hill farm and now the Grizedale Arts headquarters–is a 40 minute walk through the forest. You can visit the historic house and collections, farm gardens and wildflower meadow.
[This post was originally published 3/9/11]