By Kayley Kennedy

A JOURNEY down the main trunk road connecting Scotland and England is a road frequently travelled by many in the farming community, but venture just a little to the east and you’ll find a hidden gem where you can enjoy a spot of luxury.

Usually, these away nights are snapped up by fellow colleagues but with the promise of a dog-friendly stay at Tottergill Farm, on the edge of the Pennines, myself and my trusty wee dug Midge jumped at the chance.

Just 20 minutes from Junction 43 on the M6 (that’s the turnoff for Carlisle market for us farming folk) and through the village of Castle Carrock, you catch a glimpse of Tottergill Farm high on the hill ahead of you but it’s not until you reach the impressive stone buildings that you really appreciate the stunning view.

Heading up the drive and past the Champion Oak Tree of Cumbria – thought to be around 800 years old and with the largest girth of any oak in the county – you’ll get a warm welcome from Tracey, Barnaby Bowman, who took on Tottergill a couple of years ago, as well as their dogs, Brian and Bentley.

The name Tottergill first appears in records dating back to 1603 but it was somewhat different to what you see today, with the current house replacing the original farmhouse and cobbled courtyard some time in the next century. The name is derived from tod (fox) hill gill – the ‘gill’ part coming from Viking origins and referring to the nearby beck (river or burn) in its ravine.

It's a traditional set-up as the sandstone buildings include a central tower with dovecote, stables and cartsheds which have been stylishly developed in to a total of 10 cottages, ranging from the cosy one-bedroom options to houses capable of sleeping up to eight for those larger get togethers.

I was lucky to be in Gill Cottage, a semi-detached one-bedroom split over two floors with its own private garden, deck and hot tub, which is apparently is very popular with honeymooners and it's easy to see why. If the welcome from the Bowmans wasn’t warm enough, during a tour of your cottage Tracey points out the freshly ground coffee from Carlisle-based Bruce and Luke’s as well as chocolate cake from Sally’s Tea Room and fudge from the world-famous Toffee Shop in Penrith, and Midge was rather taken with her wee bag of treats too.

The cottage is simply stunning – full of traditional features including wooden beams and a wood-burning stove while maintaining a modern and luxurious feel in all rooms. With panoramic views over the Castle Carrock reservoir to the Solway and beyond, the cottage boasts a downstairs shower room and a galleried double bedroom with super-king size bed and en-suite bathroom.

If you’re willing and able to cook, in the kitchen there is everything you need to rustle up a five-star meal. If you’re not willing, or even able, or while your wine is chilling in the fridge, a half-hour walk down the road and along a bridle path with the reservoir to the left and you’ll come across The Duke of Cumberland. Midge and I heard it before we saw it, and the spattering of cars lining the quiet village roads only hinted at its popularity.

Inside, we were welcomed by a cosy atmosphere filled with locals and visitors alike. The bar is stocked with real ales while menu is full of local treats as well as a couple of Asian specials, and with the roaring fire and craic flowing it would have been easy to settle down for the evening.

However, on Tracey’s recommendation, we headed back to the cottage to watch the sun set in the hot tub on our very own private deck. The walk is just the ticket to build up a thirst so, with Midge tucking in to her own supper, I settled down with a wee shandy and watched as the sun slowly dipped below the horizon. Tracey was right, you know, it really is idyllic.

Lowther Castle

The location is pretty ideal too as the Pennines lend themselves to a number of local attractions and activities. If you’re looking to venture slightly further afield, in less than an hour – or if you want a true busman’s holiday a drive south through the Pennines will take you past some well-kent names in the sheep world – you can be at Lowther Castle, to the south of Penrith on the edge of the Lake District.

Built at the turn of the 19th century but with site records dating back several centuries before that, what was once a grand castle has since been demolished with just the façade and outer walls remaining. An exhibition tells you of the story of Lowther, while the ruins, extensive gardens and woodland area offer plenty to explore with the lost castle playground keeping the little uns entertained.

Tottergill is available for short breaks, long weekends and full weeks with a range of different needs catered for. Many of the cottages are dog friendly, with a surcharge, and many have a private hot tub. For more information, visit, phone 01228 670615, or email

Tottergill Farm Cottages

Castle Carrock, Brampton

Cumbria, CA8 9DP

T: 01228 670615