Postcards from the edge…of Lake Windermere (1)

11 02 2011

Sunday 6th February:

The ‘men’ in suits having departed and with Chris in need of a little post Ofsted therapy I had booked a ‘special offer break’ on the edge of Lake Windermere

As we headed up the motorway, radio weather forecast updates recounted tales of doom, gloom and ‘localised flooding’ in the north-west. They weren’t wrong.

We were greeted in Cumbria by slate grey skies, brisk winds, driving rain and bubbling becks bursting their banks, flooding across the road down to the water’s edge. Things could only get better! 

On the plus side, there was a warm welcome at the hotel and our room promised decent lakeside views if ever the low cloud lifted.

Having unpacked, and made use of the complementary tea making facilities, we set off for a late afternoon reccy of nearby Bowness on Windermere, just three miles down the road.          

It was in the oldest part of town, known as Lowside, where the 17th century houses huddle together against the prevailing weather, that we sought sanctuary and liquid refreshment at the Hole Int’ Wall.

Bathed in the warming glow of a roaring log fire we supped a couple of pints of Robinsons Unicorn in the company of Dylan, the inn’s delightful golden Labrador.

The pub with its slate floors, traditional beams and a surfeit of stuffed animals on display is the oldest in town and will celebrate its 400th birthday next year. Apparently its actual name is rather boring, the New Hall Inn, and its better known nickname is due to a thirsty blacksmith who worked next door.

In order to quench his thirst, as he worked at the forge, the pub knocked a hole int’ wall to pass jugs of ale through. The adjoining smithy is now incorporated into the pub.     

During the 1850s the landlord was one Thomas Longmire, a celebrated all-England wrestling champion (an ancient and well-practised tradition, still popular in these parts today) with 174 belts to his name.

Local legend has it that Charles Dickens (who must have liked a beer because he seems to be associated with a fair few pubs up and down the country) was a great admirer of the Cumberland grappler and stayed at the pub in 1857, describing him as ‘a gentle giant’.        

Back at the hotel, there was just time for Chris to enjoy a glass of red wine, in the whirlpool bath, before sampling dishes made from seasonal local produce in the hotel’s Burlington Restaurant, with its two AA Rosettes. 

Fine dining it may be but our verdict was small portions/big prices and we’ll be eating in Bowness tomorrow!




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