Situated on the south-east shore of Bassenthwaite nestling beneath Skiddaw, very close to the Lake District Osprey Project observation points in Dodd Wood, with which it shares the car park (charge refundable against entry), Mirehouse is a country manor house built in 1666. Records and maps show the existence of orchards from the 18th Century. A Scots Pine planted in 1784 still stands today. The varied collection of rhodedendrons are particularly attractive in late spring. The walled garden dating from about 1780 contains three different orchard plantings. The earliest planting is believed to be over a hundred years old, but only three trees remain. One, a Lord Suffield is still in good condition, but the other two (a Newton Wonder and an unknown variety) may not last much longer due to canker. The second planting is believed to date from the 1950’s and consists mainly of dessert varieties fan trained around the south facing wall. Most of these trees are in reasonable health and provide a good crop of fruit. Variety records have been lost but some have been identified. The third planting was carried out by the present owner in 1996 and consists of a range of heritage varieties grown as free standing standard trees growing in the centre of the walled garden. These are understood to be on M25 rootstock, yet are surprisingly small. However they are mostly in good health, cropping reasonably with vigorous vegetative growth. Exceptions are a few trees in a low damp spot which died. Despite being unsprayed, there is not much scab, the wide spacing ensuring good airflow to avoid excessive humidity. Woolly aphid is a problem on some varieties.
Sadly, a number of trees are now suffering from canker, probably owing to the damp ground.
In the northwest corner of the walled garden there are bee hives, one of which houses a colony from Germany which is particularly active. Further north from the house is a remnant plum orchard which includes a greengage still cropping well despite being now overgrown by woodland and Rhododendron ponticum. Close by is a huge 200yr old sycamore. The grounds extend down to the shore of Bassenthwaite Lake. make it an attractive place to visit.
Gardens open April to end October daily 10am–5pm. Gardens & grounds admission £4 (children £2). Location: 3 miles north of Keswick on A591. Postcode for satnav: CA12 4QE. Tel: 017687 72287