A February Weekend at Wild Wool Barn

Wild Wool Barn, part of the Independent Hostels network, is such a cosy little spot and is perfect for couples or families who just want to get away from it all. Read on to find out all about my weekend staying at Wild Wool Barn in the Lake District.

First of all how can I not mention the stunning location- set in such a quaint and quiet part of the Lakes, the barn is nestled on the shore of Ennerdale Water, a serene lake only 10 minutes walk down to the beach from the bunkhouse.

Myself and my partner Dom stayed at Wild Wool on a Friday and Saturday night in February, and yes like I’m sure you’re thinking- the Lakes in February must be a bit cold and wet – well you’re not wrong. It definitely rained but the sun shone for us too, and we were able to spend a few days exploring a place new to us and getting a taste of the Lake District’s natural beauty.

The first on our list of activities for the weekend was to bag the summit of Scafell Pike as the tallest English mountain, and having done Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) last year we felt motivated to continue the pattern. Poor weather scuppered our plans unfortunately, and after weighing up the options at the halfway point, we decided it was too dangerous to continue to the summit.  Disappointing yes, but Scafell definitely isn’t going anywhere and we figured we could come back in the Summer.

Still feeling the need for a venture into the great outdoors however, we thought we could set ourselves a different challenge… a dip a day into the freezing cold Lakes. Neither of us are avid wild swimmers as much as some, but in the warmer months it forms a big part of my Summer activities and I figured the only thing stopping me in Winter is my own brain putting up a fight. We dipped in Wast Water (near Scafell Pike’s national trust car park at Wasdale Head) and Lake Windermere on the way back home on Sunday. Definitely got a few funny looks from passers-by while stripping down to our swimwear on the shore, and while in the moment of the plunge its all very unpleasant, after a few seconds it becomes easier and really quite enjoyable! The wrapped-in-a-towel afterglow feeling is totally worth a cold plunge, and comes with numerous physical and mental health benefits too.

Back at the hostel we got cosied up with the log burner lit, and played our way through the large stash of board games to our hearts content. We’re a bit obsessed with chess these days and were happy to find a chess board – we played four games and I won three of them – I was quite pleased with that actually. One of the enchanting things about Wild Wool is that it boasts of a wifi and mobile signal free retreat, something that is surprisingly difficult to find in the modern world! It felt like such a privilege to spend time away from the internet , swapping out an evening of Netflix films for an evening of gaming, reading, drawing and good chats. It felt a little daunting, but after a time we remembered how easy it is to get tangled up in the online world and forget how to truly live in the moment, and we appreciated the chance to get away from it all.

I loved the little touches of wool woven rugs and embellishments around the place. Living up to its name, Wild Wool Barn’s owner, Susan, runs her own wool workshop right next to the sleeping barn. On weekdays you can pop in to watch her go about her business, or book onto a course yourself for the weekend days to learn how to turn raw wool into woven masterpieces. This is definitely one of the appeals of staying at Wild Wool if you are a crafts lover as I am.


After our swim on the Saturday, we set off in the car to the coast – being Midlanders we have to take every chance we can to see the sea! Being in the Lake District I didn’t realise just how close the Irish Sea is (30 mins drive) from the great fells and lakes near Wild Wool. We visited Whitehaven, a little port town turned to seaside tourism, with little shops and cafes, and we were very taken by this amazing bookshop that seemed to have never-ending corridors of fascinating books. ‘Michael Moon Buys and Sells Old Books And Has Done So For More Years Than Anyone Can Remember” – well worth a visit.

Though Whitehaven was a nice excursion, what we fancied next was some raw rugged clifftop beauty, and we set off to St Bee’s Head, a headland not 15 minutes drive away. I brought my kite along and flew it just off the coast path next to the lighthouse there – absolutely in my element. The sun was setting and the sea breeze strong and fierce but so pleasant, you could taste the salt in the air. There was several RSPB bird watching reserves on the cliff edge, and we took a stroll to watch cormorants nesting in the cliff edge, which was such a surreal experience.

Heading back to Wild Wool we stopped at a pub for tea – the Fox and Hounds Inn – which did an excellent steak and ale pie. It is advised to book if you are looking to eat out near the hostel, as places are popular and fill up fast with holiday makers and locals alike.

After our second and final night at Wild Wool Barn, we packed up and said goodbye to the barn. We wanted to see some more places however so took a bit of a detour on the way home and stopped at Ambleside and then Lake Windermere for our final wild swim of the weekend… brrrr. This one was especially cold and choppy, and we predicted a storm must be coming in with the amounts of rain lashing down sporadically.  Had to be done though!

What a glorious weekend of cold water swims, cosy intimate spaces and breath-taking natural beauty of the lakes!

About Lily Oldfield

Lily is a forest schools teacher and artist who appreciates the quirky side of travel. Read her blogs for some unusual escapades and curious photos...