Grounds and waterfall

Derwentwater Independent Hostel is surrounded by a fascinating variety of wild-life, woodland, and flowing water. In the 17 acres of grounds, we have an impressive array of trees, a large grass area (half of which is a meadow in May and June, attracting lots of butterflies, moths, and dragon flies), many different types of birds, old footpaths from the late eighteenth century, yummy wild raspberries and blackberries (at certain times of the year), a 108ft high waterfall, and a small-scale hydro-electric power plant.

Waxwing in the grounds











Red squirrels and roe deer are regular visitors to our grounds, and you may also see badgers, otters and bats if you look carefully. 

The waterfall, known as Barrow Cascade, is fed by Ashness Beck, with water gushing down from the Ashness Fells, under Ashness Bridge, to Derwent Water. Once the water enters our grounds, the beck becomes known as Barrow Beck.

There is a peaceful footpath which follows the course of Barrow Beck, allowing you to walk through our grounds to Ashness Bridge. This footpath provides excellent views of the waterfall.

Flanked by National Trust land on all sides, the grounds of Derwentwater Independent Hostel provide a tranquil haven for wild-life and a wonderful place for guests to relax, learn, and explore. 

The history of the waterfall

In 1787 the eccentric and wealthy bachelor, Joseph Pocklington, bought the land on which Barrow House now stands. Barrow Beck and its cascades were a great attraction for Pocklington, and he named his new building project Barrow Cascade House. Pocklington laid the foundation stone of Barrow House in 1787 and he also made some alterations to the cascades, using gunpowder and small revetments to channel the flow, aiming to provide a better view of the waterfall from the rear of the house. The Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge commented that, in the Pocklington domain, Art beats Nature.

In December 2015 Storm Desmond caused considerable damage to our grounds. The banks of the beck were severely eroded, and the Penstock pipe, which delivers water to the hydro-electric plant, was ripped away from its attachment to the dam. We had to close to guests for 7 weeks, but luckily there was no damage to the house itself. You can find out more about Storm Desmond and its effects on the hostel in this powerpoint presentation (click here). It is now back up and whirring, and should provide about 30% of the hostel's annual electricity consumption.

Tree and bird species that can be found in our grounds



All of these birds actually land in our grounds - many more just fly overhead! There are also lots of bird species on Derwent Water, just a few minutes' walk away. Click on the bird name to find out more about the bird and listen to its song.

RobinJayNuthatchWrenDunnockBlue titGreat titLong-tailed titTreecreeperGreat Spotted, and Green woodpeckersMistle thrushSong thrushBlackbird, Fieldfare, RedwingGrey wagtailPied wagtailMallardsChaffinch, GreenfinchGoldfinchBullfinch, Redstart, Pied flycatcher, Tawny owl, Kestrel, Sparrowhawks, Woodpigeon, Wood warbler, Heron, Dipper, Stock Dove



The male yew tree near the top of the driveway has been classified as ‘veteran’ (over 500 years old) and is believed to be anywhere between 500 and 900 years old, predating the construction of the house. It is registered on the database of Ancient and Veteran Yew Trees in Great Britain, maintained by the Ancient Yew Group. It also appears in the Cumbrian Yew Book (1999) by Ken Mills, which explores 27 important yew sites in Cumbria. The female yew tree near Barrow Beck is multi-stemmed and harder to measure, but it is believed to be much younger, perhaps planted when the house was built in 1787.


Non-native trees

Many of the trees in our grounds were planted for Joseph Pocklington in the late eighteenth century. He introduced several rare foreign trees. These include:

Western hemlock, Cherry plum, Lawson cypress, Coast redwood, Adam's laburnum, Voss's laburnum, Japanese cedar, and Horse Chestnut.

Derwentwater Independent Hostel
Barrow House
CA12 5UR
Telephone: 017687 77246

Thank you to Geoff Williams, Rebecca Laff, Fiona McCarthy, John and Sam Snyder, and KTA for generously providing inspiring photographs.
Thank you to Lisa Bamford at Stoats and Weasels for designing our website, and to Sam Snyder for building it.
© 2013 Derwentwater Independent Hostel. All rights reserved. Registered charity: 1145368