The exquisite allure of Otter Lake

Otter Lake; Inara Pey, June 2019, on FlickrOtter Lake, June 2019 – click and image for full size

Otter Lake is one of the most alluring homestead regions we have recently visited. The work of Sharon Hinterland, this is a truly remarkable region in terms of the amount of space the region exudes, the beauty of the design, and the richness of detail. So much so that it is actually hard to believe it is only an Homestead region and thus capped with a land capacity of 5K.

Set out as a rural island sitting amidst a little archipelago, this is a place that is a sheer joy to explore. The landing point sits towards the west of the region, lying on a stretch of shingle coast bordered on one side by the estuary of a fast running channel that cuts the land in a broad arc, and overlooked by a wooden lighthouse sitting on a rocky promontory on the other.

Otter Lake; Inara Pey, June 2019, on FlickrOtter Lake, June 2019

The dock on which the landing point can be found is clearly a place where visiting boast might moor – a gas pump for refuelling them sits just back from the water’s edge, a little office just behind it. From here, visitors can walk up the hill and visit the lighthouse (be careful around some of the rocks, they can be a little “spongy”, shall we say), or follow a wooden path that curls around an old barn / garage to where it splits to either roll back down to the coast and a simple bridge of planks spanning the arcing channel, or to wind onward to become an asphalt path that twists over of the ridge coming off the back of the rocks supporting the lighthouse to drop back down into a small valley and across the little channel of water via a more substantial bridge.

The far side of this bridge offers further choices: do you turn left and inland, to follow the raised bank of the channel, keeping to the narrow ledge the sprouts from the side of a hill? Or do you follow the log path that climbs the hill under the shade of the trees crowning it? And if you do, should you turn off from that path and descend stone steps to where smoke rises from a small cabin? Or do you continue to follow the path onwards into the lee of tall cliffs?

Otter Lake; Inara Pey, June 2019, on FlickrOtter Lake, June 2019

It is these kind of choices – and there are many across the region – that help to make a visit to Otter Lake such a joy.  Paths meander, climb slopes, descend hills, curl around rocky heights or climb them along the curling or straight lines of stone steps, or point the way to where ribbons of sandy or shingle beach wrap their way around the coast. Within all of these paths is a further delight: just when you think you have seen it all, you round a corner or reach another ridge, you find yourself at another unexpected path or stairway, or a new vista opens before you, enticing you on, giving the region its feeling of expansive openness.

Across this landscape are multiple points of interest – places to sit, to cuddle, to appreciate the view, and relax. There are cabins and little houses waiting to be discovered – all of them open to exploration, as the About Land description notes.   Travel to the north-west of the island and you’ll find a small working farm, sitting in the loop of a shingle beach and at the end of a dirt track.

Otter Lake; Inara Pey, June 2019, on FlickrOtter Lake, June 2019

Follow this track as it winds upwards along a gentle slope and under a rich mix of trees, and it will lead to the island’s heart, literally and visually: a marvellous lake from which a single brook tumbles its way along another channel that connects the lake to the coast by way of rocky pools and little drops over their lips, the water bubbling and splashing under bridges and across what might be little fords.

The lake forms the focal point for a stone-built cottage that looks out over the waters from a shoulder of rock, revealing the quite extraordinary garden-like setting. This features places around the rim of the lake that can be enjoyed, There’s a deck, an old rowing boat tipped on its side to form a little snug, paths and little gatherings of plants, a gazebo and, for those so minded, a raft on the lake’s waters.

Otter Lake; Inara Pey, June 2019, on FlickrOtter Lake, June 2019

The entire location is fabulously natural in design. And that’s the other attraction of Otter Lake; the entire region feels like it has been formed by nature, not created by human mind and hand. This is a place where the landscape is widely varied, rich in contrasts from shingle and sandy shores through low-lying grasslands, rolling hills to up-thrusts of rock that form plateaus and tables, all of which roll together in a perfect blend, populated by trees and bushes, grass and flowers, rounded-out by an ideal sound scape.

Nor does it end there at the lake. Across the water from the cabin, water tumbles down a high cliff-face. Follow the paths running around the bowl of the lake from the cabin – one of which will lead you past another, smaller cabin – and you’ll come to more stone steps leading the way up the slopes either side of another channel of fast-flowing water that churns its way from a pool on the crown of the island down to the falls that drop into the lake. Here sits the final treat: the pond itself and the shack of a cabin overlooking it, aged but cosy inside, and with an octagonal deck extending out to the south and west, providing a magnificent view back towards the lighthouse and the landing point.

Otter Lake; Inara Pey, June 2019, on FlickrOtter Lake, June 2019

Otter Lake really is the most exquisite design for a region. Almost perfectly formed, it is a photographer’s and explorer’s delight, a tour de force of what can be achieved within a Homestead region – and without overloading people’s systems. It is certainly a destination not to be missed and appreciated. When visiting, do please consider making a donation towards, the region’s continue existence (there’s a piggy bank at the landing point!

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