Skip to content

Exploring the wider estate and watermill at Acorn Bank

Path snaking through the woodland at Acorn Bank. On either side are large, old trees and green, lush vegetation.
A woodland walk at Acorn Bank | © National Trust Images/Annapurna Mellor

With 180 acres of woodland and parkland to explore, there are plenty of opportunities for peaceful moments away from the crowds. Surround yourself with a wide variety of trees along the woodland paths and discover hidden views along the way. Visit the historic watermill, get closer to nature, or go on a geocaching adventure.

Summer on the estate

Enjoy the shade and tranquility of the woodland, and spot abundant bird life as you wander along the beck.

See the working watermill at Acorn Bank

Tucked away between the trees and the Crowdundle Beck, the watermill is only a short walk from the garden. You can see it working and chat to the millers from April to October on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays, 11am–3pm.

There has been a watermill at Acorn Bank for hundreds of years. The first mention is made in 1323 when the estate passed to the Knights Hospitaller, however the present building dates from the early 19th century.

Winding down

Although primarily a corn mill, the mill was also used to provide power to the gypsum mines which were on the estate.

The mill stopped working in the 1940s and gradually fell into a state of ruin. Its restoration began in the late 1980s when the woodland walks were also opened, allowing visitors greater access to the estate.

The mill building was partially restored with the help of work experience teams and has been open to the public since 1995.

Getting the mill running

Since 2007 the mill has undergone further transformation with the help of a dedicated team of volunteers who have restored its machinery to working order.

Flour was ground for the first time in more than 70 years in September 2011. The volunteer team’s achievement was recognised when they won the Marsh Heritage Volunteering Award in 2012.

These volunteers stepped up to the plate again in early 2021, when, owing to COVID-19, it was feared the mill may have to close due to scaled-back operations at Acorn Bank.

Keep up with the team

The team formed the Acorn Bank Watermill Trust, and the mill continues to produce flour. Follow their endeavours on the Acorn Bank Watermill Trust website  and at

If you're interested in volunteering, email the team directly at

Soundscape installation

Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, listen, and be inspired. The project was supported by the University of Central Lancashire and The Global Sounds Movement.

In the Dovecote, pause, listen, and reflect on the intricate tapestry of life that unfolds in the countryside, with a soundscape of nature recordings taken at Acorn Bank which showcases its rich natural diversity. You'll hear birdsong, the environment and the ever-changing seasons at Acorn Bank, and the soundscape evolves dynamically, shifting with the seasons to mirror nature's cycles.

It celebrates the beauty of birdsong and the changing seasons, fostering connections between us and nature.

Children with handheld GPS devices at Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire
Try your hand at geocaching | © National Trust Images/John Millar

Go geocaching at Acorn Bank

Can you find all of the six geocaches hidden at Acorn Bank? Some may not be immediately obvious, so you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled.

What is geocaching?

A geocache or ‘cache’ is a small waterproof container hidden outdoors that contains treasure. These containers can look like anything (such as toys, boxes or tins) and geocachers must use a GPS-enabled device to find them, guided by coordinates or ‘waypoints’.

You can download these onto a GPS receiver or smartphone at or you can download a free geocaching app for Android or iPhone.

The object is to find each container, sign and date the log sheet and swap one of the trinkets inside with one you’ve brought with you. The rule is that if you take a treasure, you must leave another in its place so remember to come prepared.

Find out more about how to get started in these step-by-step instructions.

Top tips for geocaching at Acorn Bank

  • Dress for the weather and wear sensible boots. Waterproofs are always a good idea just in case.
  • Bring a selection of snacks and drinks to keep you going.
  • Look out for wildlife on the way, from red squirrels in the woodlands to otter prints on the banks of the Crowdundle Beck.
  • Tick off number 49 in your list of ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’.

Riverlands project at Acorn Bank

Flowing through the estate, Crowdundle Beck is an important part of Acorn Bank’s heritage and unique beauty. However, in the woodland, two weirs which have maintained the river level and allowed the watermill to operate are becoming unstable, acting as a barrier for fish to travel upstream. In partnership with the Acorn Bank Watermill Trust, the Environment Agency and Eden Rivers Trust, the National Trust Riverlands team are working on a solution that benefits both history and nature. The Riverlands team are also working on ways to prevent Crowdundle Beck from eroding the riverbank near the driveway.

Children playing at Acorn Bank, Cumbria

Discover more at Acorn Bank

Find out when Acorn Bank is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

You might also be interested in

An old red-brick house with autumnal light shining on it and trees and vegetation to the left

History of Acorn Bank 

Discover how Acorn Bank's purpose has changed throughout the centuries, since it was first owned by the Knights Templar in the 13th century.

Two children are kneeling on the wall beside a lily pond and looking into the water at Acorn Bank, Cumbria.

Family-friendly things to do at Acorn Bank 

Discover what family-friendly activities are on offer at Acorn Bank in Cumbria, from geocaching around the parkland to newt spotting in the Sunken Garden. Try a self-guided nature trail and use rubbing plaques to discover the flora and fauna of Acorn Bank's walled garden and woodland.

Door to the watermill at Acorn Bank, a red brick building in a cobbled courtyard. To the left of the door is a blackboard with coloured writing, and there's bunting across the building.

Restoring the second waterwheel 

90 years after it was last used, the volunteer team at Acorn Bank Watermill have been hard at work preparing to restore the second waterwheel.

Dog on a lead at Nostell Priory in West Yorkshire

Visiting Acorn Bank with your dog 

Acorn Bank is a one pawprint rated place. Find out the best places to stretch your legs here, as well as the things to be aware of when you visit.

A walker has just crossed a wooden footbridge over a stream, amid dense woodland, at Dibden Bottom on Ibsley Common, New Forest Northern Commons, Hampshire

Countryside and woodland 

Plan a visit to one of the special countryside places in our care and discover the benefits of being in the great outdoors. Pack your walking boots and get ready to explore woodlands, valleys and rivers.

A person walking along the South West Coast Path at East Soar, South Devon


Explore some of the finest landscapes in our care on coastal paths, accessible trails, woodland walks and everything in between. Find the best places to walk near you.

A group of walkers heading down a rough stone track, with green mountains rising behind them

Countryside in the Lake District 

Explore the Lake District's majestic mountains – among them Scafell Pike, the tallest in England – ancient woodland, hidden waterfalls, rugged coastline and, of course, its many lakes. You might even spot a red squirrel, roe deer or bird of prey.