Meet the owners: Whitrigg House B&B
To Cumbria this time to meet Mike and Robbie of Whitrigg House B&B – and their beautiful pointers Griffin and Merlin.
Ah Cumbria.. land of rolling hills, mountains, lakes and jolly good pubs. As an area of the UK long celebrated for its scenery and superb walking trails it’s one of the largest yet most sparsely populated counties in the country – perfect to escape and rejuvenate. This time Further Afield introduces us to Robbie and Mike who run Whitrigg House in the lovely village of Clifton.
FA: Were you always country boys or did you have to make a leap from city life?
We moved to Clifton from Chester 10 years ago for a better quality of life. City life and our careers were proving a bit stressful – Robbie was a senior nurse in a large Liverpool hospital and Mike had a senior non executive NHS role. Robbie has always been a bit ‘out doorsy’ – climbing, mountaineering and general hill walking etc., having lived in the Scottish Highlands for a short while, so the scene was set.
FA: How did you end up running your business?
After moving to Clifton Robbie started work in the local Community Hospital and Mike became the Chair of the local NHS Trust. Running a B&B had been something we had long thought about and when Whitrigg, which we both used to pass on our way to work, came on the market we bit the bullet and went for it – the rest is history – except that it’s not, as the barn conversion next door, Harrison House, also came on the market so we bought that to become a self-catering holiday let. We are both NHS free now although Mike is involved with a few third sector organisations.
FA: Tell us a bit about the country pursuits that are on offer either through you or through providers in the immediate area that you work with.
We are ideally placed for lots of outdoor pursuits – great sailing on Ullswater, great walking to suit all abilities, mountain biking – we have secure cycle storage and drying facilities for wet outdoor clothing and waterproofs. There is so much to do – the Lake District is the UK’s outdoor adventure capital and where rock climbing was invented.
FA: What’s your favorite walk and are you a dog friendly place to stay?
At the B&B we don’t cater for dogs, but we do in our self-catering barn next door, Harrison House. Our favourite place to walk our two Pointers, Griffin and Merlin, is Langstrath, which is a long valley just off the Borrowdale road west of Keswick. Here we can find solitude amongst craggy surroundings and spectacular mountain scenery – it can be seen in the opening and closing credits of ‘Countryfile’ on the BBC. Closer to home, the beautiful Haweswater valley is another favourite.
FA: Do you have a favorite pub or restaurant nearby?
We are extremely fortunate to have a fantastic gastro pub in our village. The George & Dragon is just a five minute stumble away from Whitrigg House. All food is locally sourced from the surrounding estate farms.
FA: If you’re looking for a bit of culture where do you head to?
The Eden Valley has a thriving artistic network with loads of galleries exhibiting local potters and painters. The Red Barn (in nearby Melkinthorpe) has ever changing exhibitions from local and international artists. Also recommended is Brougham Hall with local potters exhibiting and providing pottery/ceramic classes. The Upfront Gallery in Unthank should also get a mention as well as the Rheged Centre which holds the Lakes Artists biannual exhibition and also has the largest IMAX screen in the North West.
FA: What’s the best thing about running your business?
Mike: Meeting and talking with our very diverse range of guests from all over the UK and the world. Robbie: It’s great seeing guests’ reactions to the décor of the house and its artworks. I also love chatting with guests and offering advice on places to visit and walking routes.