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Before it was a hostel

Skiddaw House was built around 1829 as a ‘Keeper’s lodge’ and grouse shooting base for George Wyndham, the third Earl of Egremont. The Wyndham family, whose descendants became the Lords Leconfield, owned the estate known as Skiddaw Forest and also nearby Cockermouth Castle.

The building was originally divided into two separate dwellings - one side for the gamekeeper and his family and the other for a shepherd’s family. The Earl and his shooting parties also had a few rooms to stay in when they came to visit. This joint usage continued until 1957 when the Leconfield Estate was broken up and Skiddaw House, with its associated grazing lands, were sold to a local farmer. The two resident families left, with just one shepherd staying on to work for the farmer. This shepherd, Pearson Dalton, lived alone in the house (except for his goats, cat and five dogs) for the next twelve years.

Pearson Dalton.webp

Pearson Dalton

How it became a hostel

Wainwright Skiddaw House.webp

From A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells: The Northern Fells by Alfred Wainwright published by Frances Lincoln Ltd, copyright © The Estate of A. Wainwright 1962 Reproduced by permission of Frances Lincoln Ltd.

In 1986 the house was leased by John Bottomley who operated the nearby Carrock Fell Hostel. After much work, it was handed over to the YHA and operated as a simple hostel until 2002, when it closed and began to fall into disrepair.  


With the help of the first hostel manager and many volunteers, including the Skiddaw House Foundation (a registered charity), the hostel was renovated and reopened in 2007 and has been welcoming guests ever since.

One noticeable visitor to Skiddaw House was Alfred Wainwright, a British fellwalker, guidebook author and illustrator, who included a drawing of Skiddaw House in his "Northern Fells Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells".

Skiddaw House is the setting of an episode in Hugh Walpole’s "Herries Chronicles", where a duel takes place between John and Uhland Herries, in "The Fortress" novel. ​

"The Loneliest House in England"

Read about the interesting history of Skiddaw House and the surrounding area in John Martin's book: "The Loneliest House in England".

Copies can be purchased at the hostel (£10 cash or cheque only) or by emailing the author John Martin direct at

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