News from the Withnail front – on a last minute easter trip to the lake district, I (lol) ended up in the only available accommodation in Cumbria – which happened to be just a slate’s throw from Penrith. So we went on a pilgrimage to Uncle Monty’s to see what old Sleddale Hall (or Crow Crag to fans of Withnail & I), is really like now it’s got a new owner.
Walking up there through the picturesque hills, the weather was all wrong. It should have been pissing with rain and cloudy like the film. Instead it was blindingly sunny, the water in the reservoir an iridescent blue. It was hard to recognise Crow Crag without the bleak backdrop of mud and stormy rain.
On the way there, climbing over quaint little streams and marshland, we met two locals who were on an actual hike around Wet Sleddale. They said that they knew the new owner – a gentleman of nearby Bampton, who goes by the name of Sebastian Hindley. Fittingly he is a publican, and his family wealth comes from owning BHS – so that’s where the money to invest has come from. Luckily he is also a die-hard withnail fan, and wants to restore the place so it is fit to stay in. In his own words, he wishes to make Sleddale Hall to Withnail what the beautiful Dove Cottage in nearby Grasmere is to Wordsworth. He’s got his work cut out for him. As it stands today, it’s an absolute sh**hole. At best, charmingly dilapidated.
We certainly weren’t the first to visit – Withnail fans have clearly been there in droves over the years to have booze-fuelled parties – as the piles of broken glass lay testament to. As do the Abbey-Road-esque graffiti adorning the walls.
But aside from that the scenery is sublime – it’s well worth a visit. There’s even real-life farmers there to holler ‘shut that gate and keep it shut!’ at you. More on Seb, the new owner and his inspiring plans here (hare).