Shortlist symbol Add to shortlist button.

Bells and battle-scars: On the trail of North Cumbria’s Churches, with The Tranquil Otter

(Advertising Feature)

Hidden away on the edge of a private, secluded lake, The Tranquil Otter luxury holiday lodges are perfectly positioned on the edge of the Lake District and a short distance from Cumbria’s capital, Carlisle. Ideal to explore both the city and countryside, eight lodges occupy a peaceful lakeside location and view, boasting log fires and hot tubs for a relaxing getaway – whatever the season.

Nestled snugly within easy reach of two World Heritage sites – The Lake District and Hadrian’s Wall, a break in a Tranquil Otter luxury lodge offers the perfect opportunity to explore the northern tip of the county – a journey which includes a fascinating glimpse into the area’s colourful adventures and misadventures – thanks to secrets unlocked by visiting nearby churches.

St Michael's Church

Cumbria boasts one of the highest church-to-people ratios in England, with a small chapel or larger congregation space never far away from wherever the county’s visitors choose to go.

For example, there are five churches all within a radius of less 3.5 miles of The Tranquil Otter. What’s the link between the two? Well, guests at the Tranquil Otter choose one of the site’s eight luxury lodges because they indulge in peace and quiet to enjoy quiet times of reflection.

Away from each lodge, many guests also appreciate the opportunity for peace and reflection available in local churches, with a church trail devised below, especially for guests who enjoy taking a journey of discovery to track down these beautiful architectural works of art – either to worship in, or to simply admire.

St Michael's Church

Here are the nearest five:

St Peter, CA5 6JB (1.1 mile from The Tranquil Otter)

St Peter’s church was founded almost one thousand years ago – and despite so much time having passed, it today looks very much as it did when it was built, back in 1194. In that time, it’s thoughts only a couple of major modifications have been made to the building, in the form of a Victorian porch and vestry.

Upon entry through the carved Norman doorway, visitors can gaze upon the carved Norman chancel arch. Around 150 years ago, restoration work uncovered a Roman carved stone, thought to be from Hadrian’s Wall – one of Cumbria’s two World Heritage Sites – which was only a mile away from the church. The church’s two bells have stood the test of time, having been cast in 1705. Both remain in use today. A further Roman artefact is a stone set in the church’s southern wall, with an inscription which when translated, reads ‘The troops of the 6th Legion, the victorious, pious & faithful did this work’.

St Michael's Church
St Giles, CA5 6NB (1.5 miles from The Tranquil Otter)

The Grade II St Giles’ Church at Great Orton was founded in 1098 and is thought to be the first church built in what was known as Cumberland after the Norman Conquest. Constructed from sandstone blocks, which again, are thought to have been taken from Hadrian’s Wall, many original features remain.

Its stone walls are up to three feet thick – and with good reason; Being so close to the border with Scotland, the church was subjected to frequent raids and fires. Extended during the 19th century, the church saw the addition of new stained-glass windows included among the improvements. A window depicting St. Giles himself was added in the mid-20th century, while its bell dates back to 1752.

St Michael
St Michael, CA5 6AW (1.6 miles from The Tranquil Otter)

This Grade I listed, 12th century church almost doubles as a small castle, being one of just a handful of churches to be built complete with fortifications. Constructed on the site of the Roman Fort of Aballava and sitting very close to Hadrian’s Wall, this church saw more than its fair share of battles during cross-Border warfare and later at the hands of the notorious Border reivers. King Edward lay in State in this church after his death in the summer of 1307.

Visitors can walk in his footsteps, described by church leaders as taking a ‘Walk Through Time’ along the churchyard path, which features a time-line of significant events through the centuries, immortalised in granite. A medieval tower completes the experience, where villagers sheltered during Border warfare.

St Michael's
St Mary’s, Rockcliffe, CA5 6ED (2.3 miles from the Tranquil Otter)

Built in 1848, the reason for the construction of this church was not only to replace a medieval chapel style building, but to serve as an architectural focal point in the landscape. The gothic revival church is built from buff-coloured borders sandstone and was rebuilt in 1890 after being struck by lightning. As “lighting never strikes twice”, it should avoid similar strikes for the rest of time… fingers crossed.

The building’s west window was created by John Scott of Carlisle, with his east window being replaced in the late 19th century. Outside, the yard slopes down towards the River Eden and is surrounded by more sandstone block, forming a wall complimented by a wrought iron fence.

St Michael's
St Andrew, CA7 0HP, (3.4 miles from The Tranquil Otter)

Standing in the imposing shadow of Skiddaw and the Northern Fells, the construction of St Andrew’s also involved taking stones from the now protected Hadrian’s Wall. This Norman church is described as “uncluttered and light”, with its original roof timbers supporting its sandstone roof.

Its 12th century chancel arch and font both remain, with its south aisle added hundreds of years later, in the late 19th century. The near-complete silence inside the church is interrupted only by birdsong and its two bells – one of which dates back to the 14th century.

Meanwhile, back in 2019…

Following a deep delve into North Cumbria’s medieval and Roman history while on the local church trail, it’s time for guests at The Tranquil Otter to curl up and stay put for a few hours.

Those who stay at each of the eight lodges have the use of a private balcony with lake views, along with an outdoor hot tub to soak up the peaceful environment – even making it relatively easy for people with itchy-feet to remain still for a while…

Just a stone’s throw from the door of each lodge are woodland walks to enjoy, all within The Tranquil Otter’s private grounds. Perfect for birdwatching, guests can also get up close and personal with nature by indulging in a spot of wild swimming.

Each lodge is designed with comfort in mind, staying true to the wooded surroundings while embracing all the modern-life luxuries which guests expect during a relaxing and traditional getaway in the 21st century.

For more information, check out The Tranquil Otter here.

The Tranquil Otter

Like what you see? Follow us