Freedom of the Lake proved cold and wet but fire was cosy and dry

Natalie Walker expected rain on her recent visit to the Lake District – and she was not disappointed, but the welcome at Merewood Country House Hotel was warm, the food delicious and the view from her room majestic.

Saturday, 22nd February 2014, 6:00 am
Merewood Country House Hotel

A trip to the Lake District can mean the need for a good raincoat... and this occasion wasn’t any different.

It made the journey on the Windermere Lake Cruise a rather cold and wet one, but as I was huddled with dozens of Korean tourists under cover downstairs on the boat, it was an entertaining and memorable experience.

Wishing to make the most of the area, the Freedom of The Lake ticket was the best option, which gave a full circuit of the beautiful towns bordering the waters.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Merewood Country House Hotel

Our journey started at Bowness, known as the ‘heart’ of the Lake District, home of The World of Beatrix Potter, and we cruised along the lake to Ambleside, which is set among breathtaking mountains and gentle rolling fells.

Unfortunately, on this occasion there was not enough time to get to Lakeside, which is at the most southern end and home of the award-winning freshwater Lakes Aquarium and the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Steam Railway.

But Windermere was our ultimate location, and after a rainy morning, it was nice to dry off in front of the log fire at Merewood Country House Hotel.

Set in its own secluded, 20-acre estate of beautiful landscaped gardens, woodland and meadow, and with stunning views overlooking Windermere, it really is the place to unwind.

Built in 1812 for the son of the first Earl of Lonsdale, many of the original features are still in situ, including the beautifully panelled hall and reception, pretty stained glass windows, magnificent fireplaces and a silk-lined drawing room.

Dinner was an intimate affair with a small dining area in the green room, although there was a larger space used for weddings and other special occasions.

There were canapes in advance of the four-course meal, which was one of the highlights of our stay in this wonderful hotel.

To begin, I opted for wood pigeon. The meat was tender and the black pudding served alongside was a delight, with the caramelised onion and thyme sauce dressing adding to the taste sensation.

A main course of slow cooked neck of pork, with fondant potato, panchetta, savoy cabbage, carrots, apple puree and robust sauce was perfect.

The presentation matched the taste – delicate and decadent.

Dessert was a slight surprise as the lemon cheesecake had popping candy mixed in – certainly an amusing addition.

Making the most of the warm and cosy atmosphere, my travel companion and I retired to the library, where we played a game of chess.

It would be easy to pick up a book from the many stocked shelves - the rooms of this hotel are themed around famous writers, including Shakespeare, Bronte and Tennyson, the latter where we resided for the night.

You can just sit by the fire, or, in summer months, gaze out of the window and see the majestic view outside of the grounds.

Or why not take an hour or two to view the wonderful artwork on the hotel’s wall?

Whatever your reason for heading to the Lake District, this is the perfect place to escape and forget about the stresses of everyday life.