If walking in the Lake District, followed by a relaxing massage, a delicious meal in an award-winning AA-Rosette restaurant and a stay in a cosy, country house hotel sounds like your idea of heaven, then Ravenstone Lodge Hotel in Bassenthwaite could be just the thing!
Product: Ravenstone Lodge, Bassenthwaite, Keswick, Cumbria CA12 4QG. 017687 76629, www.ravenstone lodge.co.uk Price: £60.00 Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)
This small, privately-owned 3 star country house hotel is just a few minutes’ drive from Keswick and nestles in the bosom of Skiddaw, between Ullock Pike and Bassenthwaite Lake.
The surrounding countryside is truly breathtaking and if you do nothing except sit with a drink and gaze over the hills and fells, you will be excused.
The Lodge itself dates back to the 1800s but has been tastefully and sympathetically restored to the point where it offers modern facilities but retains its charm. Not always an easy thing.
We were welcomed in person after our long drive north, by the owner, Mike Cornish, then shown to a gorgeous luxury double room with en-suite. The room was very spacious with a lovely oak, king-sized bed, TV and trouser press. It also had three windows, making the most of the views, which gave it a light and airy feeling, but was still warm and cosy as the high winds whipped around the hotel!
The en suite bathroom was very impressive, with a deep bath, soft Egyptian cotton bath towels and separate walk-in shower – very welcoming after a long day.
There’s complimentary Wi-fi (if you can get it work!), tea and coffee-making facilities in all the rooms.
Ravenstone’s stable bar and bistro was once the stables and the stalls and mangers have survived intact, making it a rather quirky little place to enjoy a drink. The Bistro has its own menu, plus a daily ‘Specials board’ so there’s always a good selection of meals to tempt you and the bar stocks a range of spirits, beers, wines, soft drinks and ‘a growing collection of single malt whiskeys’ – so, something for everyone then!
The Coach House Restaurant was once the coach house and serves beautifully presented, utterly delicious food using high-quality local ingredients wherever possible. Awarded an AA Rosette last year, it is every bit deserved as the Head Chef, James Cooper, cooked up a delectable meal for us.
The menu in the restaurant offered three courses, plus the aforementioned specials board. I enjoyed roast rump of Lakeland lamb, caramellised shallots, sweet potato and buttered spring greens in rosemary jus. Divine! And a goodly portion, too!
My companion chose the veggie option - wild mushroom, roast butternut squash and blue cheese gnocchi with white wine, cream and parsley sauce, Parmesan crisp and baby leaf salad. So much for nut roast!
Desserts were chocolate fudge cake served with cream and honey and rosemary crème brulee with ice cream. Prices in the restaurant are very reasonable and it’s open to all, not just hotel residents. It was busy but not too busy, with an audible hum of people enjoying their food (like me!).
The walls and rooms of Ravenstone Lodge are adorned with lovely landscapes of the Lake District, taken by the hotel’s proprietor, Mike Cornish, a keen photographer. Available to buy as framed prints and postcards, it gives a personal touch to the hotel and shows how much he loves this area.
There’s a welcome woodburner in the conservatory, which acts as a magnet for hotel guests, and where you can sit with a drink before or after your meal (or at any other time!) and enjoy unrivalled views across the fells, particularly gorgeous just as the sun is setting.
A large, spacious patio area with patio furniture overlooks the garden, with lighting for the evenings and is an ideal place to enjoy a drink on a summer’s evening and take in the views.
As an added bonus, the hotel also arranged for us to enjoy a massage in our room from Zen Therapies, a home-based and mobile health and wellbeing service available in Keswick and the surrounding areas. What better way to relax after a day hiking than a massage in your room (followed by a snooze on your bed!)!
Jacqueline Jackson brought all the kit with her, setting up the massage couch in our room, complete with aromatherapy oils and towels, before treating us to a back, neck and shoulder massage. She provides treatments from sports massages to spa therapies for the feet and facials for men, so whatever part of you is aching – or just in need of de-stressing – there’ll be a treatment to suit! It was professional, personal and totally relaxing. A superb treat.
If hiking up fells sounds too much like hard work, then within walking distance of Ravenstone Lodge is the little church of St Bega. The present building dates from pre-Norman times, and stands on the edge of Bassenthwaite Lake. Worth a visit, the font dates from about 1300 and the 14th century lead crucifix hanging over the pulpit is similar to one in St. Albans Cathedral. There’s even an iron hourglass used to time sermons.
Ravenstone Lodge is only 5 miles and a few minutes’ drive from the centre of Keswick, with its Theatre by the Lake, shops, tea rooms, and Keswick Launch where you can take a cruise across Derwentwater.
One-and-a-half miles east of Keswick is Castlerigg Stone Circle, an English Heritage-owned ancient site with panoramic views and the mountains of Helvellyn and High Seat as a backdrop. It’s among the earliest of British circles, raised in about 3000 BC during the Neolithic period. With free entry, it was well worth a visit, and dogs are welcome if on a lead.
On the morning of our departure, we enjoyed a very leisurely breakfast - Traditional Full English complete with two pots of tea while we gazed out over the fells. It was a really generous proportion, too, so if you are planning to go out walking after that, you'd be well set up!
If the Full English is too much for you, there's also plenty of continental options on offer and you can help yourself to as much or as little as you need. I really liked the unhurried pace of the breakfast - something I rarely get to do at home!
- Ravenstone Lodge, Bassenthwaite, Keswick, Cumbria CA12 4QG
Call 017687 76629
- Rooms from £60 per night, low season, with two people sharing and include full English breakfast
- Zen Therapies
Jacqueline Jackon-Elliott MFHT
Call 0779 204 3538
- Treatments from £20