Surprisingly, even though the English Lake District is one of the most beautiful parts of the country and attracts so many visitors each year, there are so few British films set in the Lake District. One British film that has shot there is Withnail & I (1987), a low-budget comedy film that has gained a seriously dedicated following over the last 30 years. So when me and my mum bought tickets to Picnic Cinema’s screening of Withnail & I at one of the film’s most prominent filming locations, we just had to hit up the rest of the Withnail & I filming locations in the area. We do live in Cumbria after all and it was probably about time we saw them!
Withnail & I is about two actors (and addicts) living together in London: Withnail (Richard E Grant) and ‘I’ (Paul McGann). They decide they need a break and head to Withnail’s Uncle Monty’s cottage in the countryside. There, they get into all kinds of mishaps and unintentionally create one of the most quotable, comedic films in British cinema history.
Withnail & I filmed in London, the Lake District and also Milton Keynes. In fact, you might be expecting some filming locations on this list that were actually filmed in Milton Keynes. For example, the Penrith Tearooms and some pub scenes were shot there, unfortunately! This is a full list of all the Withnail & I filming locations in the Lake District.
Withnail & I Filming Locations in the Lake District, UK
Withnail & I Filming Locations in the Lake District, UK
I’ve chosen to list the locations in a logical order for you to visit them, rather than screening order. Some of the locations are remote and difficult to pinpoint exactly where they are on Google Maps. I have tried my best to ‘pin’ on this map exactly where each location is and I go into further detail on each specific filming location. And I’ve provided postcodes for your Sat Nav/GPS and will talk more about parking, too. Yes, you will need a car to visit each location!
1. Haweswater Reservoir, Lakeside Road, Bampton, Penrith, CA10 2RP
The first location you should visit on your Withnail & I pilgrimage is definitely the most picturesque, Haweswater Reservoir! It’s so surprising this is a man-made reservoir and not a natural lake because it’s so damn big and beautiful. In the film, this reservoir can be seen in the distance from Crow Crag Cottage. This is a bit of movie magic because you definitely can’t in real life! In a key scene, Withnail shouts “I’m going to be a star!” towards the water with his arms outstretched.
You will need to drive from Bampton along the road that follows the east side of the reservoir. Exactly where I’ve ‘pinned’ on the Google Map is where you can park (it’s a small layby with room for 3-4 cars) and the exact filming location on the reservoir is easy to spot because it has a little island in the middle. It’s just a very short walk back up the road to the exact hill. Yes, you will need to climb over the wall if you want to do the Withnail pose as I did!
2. Bus Shelter/Telephone Box, Wideworth Farm Road, Bampton, Penrith, CA10 2RE
Drive back up towards Bampton and you will find this telephone box next to a bus shelter on the main road. There aren’t many parking places nearby, but you could try parking at one of the pubs like the Crown & Mitre Inn and walk back. Luckily, I had my mum and dad with me, so dad parked just opposite the telephone box next to a driveway but he could move quickly if someone needed him to move.
In the film, this is the telephone box Withnail uses to call his agent about a job he hasn’t got. It must be one of the most popular Withnail & I filming locations to visit because inside the telephone box I found a Withnail & I VHS sleeve and a little guest book we could sign! Of course, I couldn’t resist and naturally wrote that me and my mum had gone on holiday by mistake.
3. Scar Side Farm Gate, Bampton, Penrith, CA10 2QU
This is one of the trickiest Withnail & I filming locations to visit/explain how to visit but I shall do my best.
This film location from Withnail & I is where I (or Marwood) has to fight the randy bull back behind the gate so he can close it. Yes, we’re literally looking for that gate! You’ll see where I’ve ‘pinned’ the location on my map and that’s exactly where the gate is. The farm the gate belongs to is ‘Scar Side Farm’ but don’t try and type it into Google Maps because it basically doesn’t exist on there for some reason.
The best place to park is literally next to this ‘Scar Side’ sign you see below. Since there’s no house number for this address, just a postcode, you’ll have to keep an eye out whilst you’re driving down the main road from Bampton. There’s room for two cars, one on either side of this road so finger’s crossed no one else is there when you are.
And then you’re literally going to walk all the way up this road, then all the way up the slightly less-maintained track until you physically can’t go any further because then you would have reached the gate! Don’t turn off anywhere, just keep straight. And don’t worry, you might be walking on a road through a farm but it’s a public bridleway, totally legal to walk down. It’s only about a 5-10 minute walk. Hopefully, the photos below (all taken chronologically as you walk towards the gate) will explain the route better!
4. Sleddale Hall, Shap, Penrith CA10 3NE
This is the Withnail & I filming location you’ll recognise the most, Uncle Monty’s cottage Crow Crag! In real life, the cottage is called Sleddale Hall. Both the interior and the exterior were used in filming. For years after the film, this cottage remained abandoned and in disrepair but it was sold in 2012 to the person who owns it today. I visited Sleddale Hall for an outdoor cinema screening of Withnail & I in the courtyard and I recommend it 100% if you’re a big Withnail & I fan.
Sleddale Hall is down a country road and you will need to get out of the car and open farm gates on the way. And PLEASE don’t forget to shut the gates, it’s really important so the animals don’t go wandering.
There is a small car park by some barns approximately 10 minutes walk from the house. Now, I don’t know what the deal is about visiting Sleddale Hall as it is now someone’s property. The owners may not mind people politely taking a couple of photos and writing on the Withnail & I quotes wall, or they might not like it. I went during an official event so it was fine for me, but just something to think about. Whatever you do, don’t take the piss.
5. River Lowther Bridge, Shap, Penrith, CA10 3NE
As you can see from the map, the River Lowther Bridge is just a short 5-10 minute walk from Sleddale Hall, so no need to drive anywhere else for this final film location! This bridge and river are where Withnail attempts to shoot at fish (wearing no trousers) because he, quote, “needs flesh”. It’s only a very short scene in Withnail & I but a hilarious one!
Before you walk up the small hill which Sleddale Hall sits on top of, there is a path in the grass to your left running alongside a fence that goes downhill. You literally just need to follow this path and you will reach the bridge very easily! The photos below are chronological so you can see where you’re going.
You’ll need to step over the ledge in the fence to get to the bridge. And, you can see where many people over the years have climbed over the final fence to get a closer look at the river because it’s got a bit worn down!
6. Tailbert Gill, Keld, Penrith, CA10
This final Withnail & I location is one I didn’t bother visiting. Honestly, I didn’t want to waste time on it because a) It’s literally on the porch of someone’s house, b) it’s down the craziest, narrowest road and c) I’m not totally sure where it is! This is, supposedly, where the farmer Mrs Parkin lives. Marwood finds her house first and knocks on her door to ask for food and firewood and she directs him towards her son who lives just down the road. In actuality, their farms are villages apart.
Do let me know if you have any more questions about visiting the Withnail & I film locations and I’ll do my very best to help you!
That’s my guide to the Withnail & I filming locations in the Lake District, UK! Have you visited the Lake District and any of the locations? Let me know in the comments below!