Isn’t it romantic?
Last updated at 14:49, Friday, 06 January 2012
FELL runner LEE PROCTER left his trainers at home for a relaxing break in the Lakes.
I LIVE my life at 100mph. I work hard – my colleagues may say otherwise – and I play hard.
My playground, however, is not the pubs and clubs of Barrow – though I can be spotted there on occasions – but rather the mountains of the Lake District.
Living less than an hour from the depths of England’s grandest adventure park, I regularly dash out of town, run up and down a few peaks, and return home beaming from ear-to-ear.
Work and other commitments mean such jaunts are, however, often rushed. In truth, I rarely stop and immerse myself in the beauty lying on the doorstep.
It was, therefore, nice to leave the running shoes at home and join my girlfriend – Evening Mail reporter Emma Preston – on a romantic trip ‘down the road’.
Our winter day out started with a relaxing stroll around the shores of Rydal Water, which lies between tourist hot-spots Ambleside and Grasmere.
In need of inner fuel and warming-up, we then headed into Ambleside for delicious bacon butties and large mugs of tea.
A 10-minute drive later we arrived at our accommodation for the evening – the stunning Broadoaks Country House Hotel.
Nestled above the Troutbeck valley, with the beck rippling away below, the first thing that struck us both was the tranquility of the setting.
The next was just how beautiful the 19th century building is – set in seven acres of lush gardens.
Built for a rich military man to reside in during his summer breaks, the building was sold to Dr Charles and Fanny Hodges in the late 1890s. They gave the house a new lease of life by building a music room with an acoustic barrel-vaulted ceiling and delicate plaster relief work designed by William Morris. This is where the original Bechstein grand piano, purchased by Charles Hodges and recovered from Leeds shortly after the building became a hotel in 1992, still sits.
Entering through a grand wooden door, it was like we’d stepped back in time.
Our resting place for the night was Cedar – one of the hotel’s four rooms in their luxury romantic collection. A fusion of classic Victorian style and contemporary comforts, the room boasted high ceilings, a comfortable king size bed and views looking out over the beck and hills beyond. It was the ideal place to relax and unwind before dinner.
Dressed to impress – well Emma was, I forgot to pack a smart shirt – we were invited to sample hors d'oeuvres in the music room prior to dinner.
Upon entering the room we were both blown away by its beauty. A roaring open fire, deep leather sofas and the aforementioned piano – upon which Emma tinkled the ivories – made for the perfect setting.
Sat there, just the two of us, sipping our favourite drinks and nibbling on some tasty treats, it was wonderfully romantic.
We were then shown into the restaurant, where four pristinely dressed tables were set out just the right distance apart, benefited from the warmth of a traditional open fire.
With no other guests in the restaurant at that time, we were the sole focus of the maitre d’ who was attentive in just the right measures.
For starters Emma had real ale battered monkfish with scallop sweet potato, green pea puree and aged balsamic, while I sampled the plum tomato, caramelised onion and goat’s cheese tartlet with a micro herb salad.
The three pieces of monkfish were melt-in-the-mouth delicious, with the batter light and crispy. The tart, meanwhile, was packed with rich flavours. Both went down a storm.
Following a pallet-cleansing sorbet, we both tucked into a main of a rack of Lakeland lamb, braised shoulder, seasonal veg, balsamic braised red cabbage and rosemary jus.
As beautiful as the lamb was – it did, as all good lamb should do, fall off the bone – for two meat-lovers like ourselves, we would have preferred a little more of it. But then we both conceded this might be more down to our mutual gluttony than to any fault on the part of the chef! The accompanying vegetables were cooked to perfection, and, all-in-all, the course was thoroughly enjoyable.
A sticky toffee pudding addict, I was always going to pick the chef’s own recipe, accompanied by warm fudge sauce and cinder toffee ice cream, for dessert. It was one of the best I have ever tasted.
Emma, less of a sweet-tooth than me, happily immersed herself in several locally-sourced cheeses and a range of crackers.
After dinner we retired to our room, where there was just time to sample the large double-corner jacuzzi bath tub, complete with underwater lights that changed colour, before retiring to bed.
After a wonderful night’s sleep, we enjoyed a delicious full English breakfast – once again made using local produce – and a stroll around the hotel’s gardens, which were being prepared for a wedding later that day.
It was a lovely way to end a 24-hour visit in which I learnt the delights of the Lake District are best enjoyed at a slightly slower pace!
Broadoaks Country House Hotel, Troutbeck, Lake District.
Tel: 015394 45566.
The pet-friendly hotel, at which you can arrive by helicopter, has a large range of beautiful rooms, suites and garden lodges from which to choose.
First published at 13:10, Friday, 06 January 2012
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
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