A 5-bedroom, 16th Century Lakeland farmhouse located on the beautiful and tranquil western side of the Cumbrian Lake District. The house is crammed with history; from the 3ft-thick walls built of great round cobbles and the sandstone fireplaces, flagstones and shelves, to the beamed ceilings and period sash windows. It occupies an enviable position with views out towards the Cumbrian coastline and immediate access to the Cumbrian fells. The option of an adjacent 6-acre field offers the chance to have a working smallholding, paddock or simply your own piece of nature.


Black How Cottage was finally sold in April 2005. I hope the new owners won't mind me leaving this page here for anyone who's interested to see.

MH 2006

It is with some sadness for all of us that my parents offer Black How Cottage for sale. It has been our family home since 1975, when we moved from the Midlands to start a new life - my father as a teacher at the local comprehensive, and all of us as Lakeland smallholders.

Since I am responsible for one of their main reasons for moving (two grandchildren) and am the one who spends most time in front of a computer, it falls to me to put this web page together.

Black How is a truly unique place. It's certainly not for you if you crave the bright city lights. I can only say that it was a wonderful place to grow up. I hope the following does it some justice. Please get in touch if you want to know anything further.

Martin Harvey 12/9/04


Black How (centre of picture) from Woodend, across the Ehen Valley. Dent rises to the right, with the mountains of Ennerdale to the left.



On the ground floor there's a big 'farmhouse' kitchen (15'9 x 12'0-14'4) with Rayburn range set in a great sandstone fireplace, two large reception rooms (Hall 17'1 - 24'0 x 12'6, Living Room 22'5-24'5 x 13'3) and a utility/workshop room (13'7 x 10'7) known as the 'Bread Kitchen' which still contains the remains of the original bread ovens and a giant stone 'slopston' sink. From here there's access to the garage (19'6 x 15'5). A hallway and vestibule lead out via a conservatory (12'2 x 8'5), to the lovely mature garden (75' x 56') at the rear of the house. At the front, the main entrance opens onto a porch (6'3 x 4'11) with access to a second WC. Up the original stone spiral staircase are the 5 bedrooms, all of a good size (12'4 x 10'3, 14'8 x 11'3, 14'0 x 10'11-13'2, 13'3 x 11'3-13'1, 16'10 x 8'8-12'9) and a large bathroom (12'3 x 8'8).


Ground floor plan.


Stairs, bottom...

...and top.





Rayburn and kitchen fireplace.



Bread Kitchen.


Bedroom 1.

Bedroom 2.


Bedroom 3.

Bedroom 4.


Bedroom 5.




About 1 mile from the nearest village of Cleator, the farm sits on the slopes of Dent, the very western edge of the Cumbrian fells, and commands a fantastic panoramic view out to the coast. Ideally situated for walkers, Wainwright's much-trodden Coast-to-Coast route passes through the farm, which is a few hours' hike from the start at St Bees and is the last habitation before heading out onto the fells, offering certain opportunities to the business-minded (subject to the relevant regulations, of course). For those interested in the full country lifestyle, there is the option to buy some or all of a 6-acre field very close to the house, which currently forms a working smallholding.


View from the end of the garden.

Black How is on a quiet lane, known locally as the Fell Road, which runs across the lower slopes of Dent from Egremont to Wath Bridge near Cleator Moor. The road passes round what was originally the back of the house. The main approach used to be a track that comes up the hill from Cleator (still the shortest walk to a post-box), entering the ornate gates at the end of the garden. These are only seen by walkers these days, and the original and impressive frontage looking onto the garden is now generally referred to as the 'back' of the house.


Gates and 'Coast-to-Coast' signpost.

At different times, the building has contained one, two or three separate dwellings. It is currently split into two, known as Black How Farm and Black How Cottage. Although the names might suggest otherwise, the Cottage is the larger (and slightly grander) part. Thanks to the thickness of the walls, the separate driveways and the privacy of the gardens, it's really quite easy to forget you have neighbours at all. The farm complex also includes a number of agricultural buildings and yards which are used on a day-to-day basis by local farmers, one of whom occupies a bungalow situated on the far side of the buildings. There is also a static caravan, occupied by a long-term tenant.


For serious and not-so-serious walkers alike, the house couldn't be better positioned. Simply step through the gate across the road and you're onto the Cumbrian fells. The half-hour walk to the top of Dent rewards you with one of the best views in the Lakes. Westward, the Cumbrian coast stretches out before you, with the Isle of Mann beyond. East, the fells of the Western Lakes - Pillar, Scafell, Great Gable and the like - form an impressive panorama.




Boundaries of house/garden and field.



Nobody seems to know exactly when the earliest part of the house was built, but we can say with some degree of confidence that it was at some time in the 16th Century. What we are surer of is that the building was 'modernised' in the 18th Century, a process which involved quite major work to the property. A lot of the present day features date from this period, although the massive walls are obviously much older.


Datestone bearing the inscription 'J L A 1762', installed by new owners in the 18th century who brought it from their previous home. (The house was already 200 years old by then.)

The building features prominently in the local history of the area, occupying an entire chapter in the definitive work on the subject, Caeser Caine's 'Cleator and Cleator Moor: Past and Present'.


Unknown Victorian residents.



Multimap or Ordnance Survey


Further Reading

A. Wainwright, '...Western Fells' ISBN 0711222339 and 'A Coast to Coast Walk' ISBN 0711222363

Caesar Caine, 'Cleator and Cleator Moor: Past and Present' ISBN 0904131025