A little bit more about us

who we are

We like to think of Brackenthwaite Holidays as an experience more than anything else. Nestled in beautiful English countryside, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with views to the Lake District fells we are perfectly situated for relaxation and adventure.

We have been providing holiday accommodation here at Brackenthwaite since 1976, with many guests returning regularly and people coming from all over the world. Today, the business is owned and run by husband-team Matthew and Harry who pride themselves on providing a real ‘home-from-home’ experience, where guests are welcomed like friends.

As a gay couple ourselves, we understand how there can be some anxiety with finding a place to stay that’s as open, warm and welcoming as we would hope. It’s for this reason we wanted to let you know that no matter your sexuality or gender identity, you will be welcomed to Brackenthwaite as we welcome everyone – with love and kindness and the excitement of what’s to come!

Offering 4 unique self-catering properties, each charming and full of character, we have something for everyone. So if you’re looking to make some special family memories, whisk your partner away for some romance, reconnect with old friends or enjoy some solo time, check out our beautiful accommodation options, everything we have to offer and the amazing array of activities and locations at your fingertips if you stay with us.

Brackenthwaite is a truly magical place for animal and nature lovers alike. We are privileged to be surrounded by 9 acres of our own grassland, which we love sharing with guests, their animals and the local wildlife.

Expect to make many new friends whilst you’re here. Whilst you’ll no doubt meet our lovely dogs, cats, runner ducks, hens and geese, if you’re lucky you’ll also get a glimpse of the local flora and fauna.

With plenty of outdoor seating and BBQ areas, you can while away the hours watching the barn swallows or if you prefer a more active immersion in nature you can stretch your legs and visit the fantastic RSPB Leighton Moss Nature Reserve or Gait Barrows Nature Reserve which are both just around the corner.

As all our holiday properties are onsite – and so are we – if meeting new people and sharing stories is your thing, you’ll have no trouble there. Equally, if a quiet and private getaway is what you’re after, don’t worry, it’s just as easy to enjoy some solitude with only the birds and other local wildlife for company.

What we care about

Whilst we love what we have created here at Brackenthwaite Holidays we are always looking forward. Our focus is to live in harmony with the natural world and offer you, our guests, more of the things you enjoy.

The former exists in 2 parts; reducing our negative impact on the environment and restorative work such as introducing woodlands, ponds and suitable environments for endangered species. The latter is done by listening to you and understanding what it is you want and need from the magic we call holidays and executing that in a manner that doesn’t ‘cost the Earth’.

With this in mind, we have many exciting ideas and developments on the horizon. From quirky accommodation options to collaborations with local businesses, retreats and woodland areas. Keep an eye on our ‘Sustainability‘ page, the ‘Your Experience‘ page and our blog for updates and progress. You can also follow us on our social channels to keep up with what’s going on at Brackenthwaite Holidays.

proud owners and creators of the Brackenthwaite experience

Meet your hosts


Matthew Armistead

Matthew has lived at Brackenthwaite all his life and has been involved with the holiday cottages since childhood, helping with Saturday changeovers and jobs around the site with his father. In addition to Brackenthwaite, Matthew had responsibility for looking after the topiary gardens at the world-renowned Levens Hall and established a successful gardening business. Today Matthew leads the operational side of the business and is passionate about providing the very best experience for guests whilst protecting and serving the natural world.


Harry Armistead

Harry was born and raised in Lancaster and nearby village of Halton in the 1980s and 90s. After leaving school, Harry spent some time travelling Australia returning to complete a course in Hospitality Management. After graduating, Harry pursued a career within hospitality and soon found himself working at sea for Princess Cruises. Since then, Harry has furthered his experience and education in business management and now enjoys creating new connections and relationships with businesses on behalf of Brackenthwaite Holidays. 

Our history

Brackenthwaite was originally a Farm and dates back a very long time though its exact origin is unknown. It is thought that historically travellers between Lancaster and Carlisle would pass by Brackenthwaite Farm, and some old coins found on the site would seem to support this.

These coins include some from the rein of Edward I of Ireland (coins circa 1280-83) and Alexander III of Scotland (coins circa 1249-86), when the farm was much larger than it is today. These coins suggest that people were passing by Brackenthwaite Farm over 800 years ago to get between England, Scotland and Ireland.

The oldest building on site today dates to the 17th century but this could very well have been built on top of a previous dwelling. It has since been added to and extended over the years. Brackenthwaite Farm used to be one of the largest farms in the area and included the land which now makes up Gait Barrows National Nature Reserve.

Matthew and his family moved here in the hot summer of 1976 and from the very beginning his parents, Tony and Sue, were keen to diversify and make the most of the opportunity they had just bought. That same year they opened and started letting Keeper’s Lodge (as it was then known), which was converted from an old farm butcher’s shop. They also started a Certificated Location 5-van site with the Caravan Club. Later, in the 1980’s, they converted another of the barns into what is now known as The Coach House and Corner Cottage. Matthew’s mother was way ahead of her time by being one of the first people in the area to offer self-catering holiday accommodation to visiting tourists. Alongside this, however, the farm remained a working one, with sheep and beef cattle, pedigree flocks of Lleyn sheep and herds of Limousin cattle all grazed on their 64 acres of land.



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