The Lake District is beautiful and there is no denying that fact. It is also one of our favourite places in England to head to when we want to get away from it all for a while and leave the hustle and bustle of city life behind us and we take every opportunity to visit when we can. Therefore, when we were invited to spend the evening at the award-winning Ees Wyke Country House which is an elegant Georgian house in Near Sawrey, Ambleside overlooking Esthwaite Water and once a holiday home of Beatrix Potter where she wrote many of her Peter Rabbit books, we jumped at the chance. Ees Wyke was originally built as a Lake District retreat for a Lancashire mill owner in 1742 and was a private home up until 1976 when it was converted into a hotel. Our visits to The Lake District usually coincide with horrendous weather, however on this occasion, we had fantastic weather which is not a common occurrence in January, therefore we wanted to make the most of our time at Ees Wyke and the local area.
First Impressions and Check-In
As we drove down the driveway we were mesmerised by the views especially the colours of the foliage, they were breathtaking. I’ll be honest the actual house did not blow us away, it looked like a bit of sprucing up was in order but then again nothing looks great in winter, especially after a long summer season and the Christmas/New Year period. A lick of paint, which I’m sure is on the cards, is all that is needed to make the house look more welcoming. We grabbed our overnight bags from the car and headed through the main door. With no formal reception desk, just a welcome desk, I pressed the bell and waited a short while before we were warmly greeted by the owner Richard. I quickly completed a registration form, we were then led up the stairs to the first floor and to our room – Blue. Our first impressions of the hotel, based purely on the quick glimpses we got as we were whisked through it were that it seemed very homely, possibly not to our usual taste, but we weren’t going to let that put us off as it was extremely cosy and somewhere to relax which was the aim of our stay. With plenty of places to sit and read, write, think, chat or play a game we instantly felt at home.
Our room was decorated in keeping with the rest of the hotel, in a very homely manner. It had everything we needed to make our stay a comfortable one, including en-suite shower room, colour TV, hairdryer, tea and coffee-making facilities (with the offer of fresh milk), a decanter of what looked like sherry (nice touch!) and the pièce de résistance – the views! With two large windows, we had uninterrupted views stunning views across Esthwaite Water to Coniston Old man round to the Langdale Pikes and extensive woodland of Grizedale Forest. It was the perfect place to watch the sunset from. Even though we slept fine, the only thing that we would suggest, next time the room is renovated would be to opt for a king size bed, the room is certainly big enough to handle one and it would just add that little bit of extra luxury and usually standard in most hotel rooms.
Richard requested that we submitted our dinner choices as soon as we arrived as we were the only people eating that evening. The menu is limited to only two options per course and no vegetarian options. Therefore, if you have any dietary requirements and intend to eat at the hotel, it’s imperative that you let them know prior to your stay to ensure it can be catered for. However, everything sounded lovely for us and we chose our evening meal with no issue. Another thing to note is that dinner is served at 7.30pm, therefore you may need to tailor your day’s activities to ensure you are back, showered, changed and ready in time. Here’s what we opted for:
Mr ESLT – Seared scallops with salad and balsamic dressing
Me – Mushrooms in a beautiful sauce
Mr ESLT – Noisettes of local lamb pan-fried and served with a wine jus with mint and just a hint of garlic
Me – Pan fried sea bass fillet with ginger, garlic, chilli and spring onion
Mr ESLT – Fresh fruit with vanilla ice cream topped with sabayon sauce and glazed under the grill
Me – Sticky toffee sponge and hot butterscotch sauce
Followed by….. tea and chocolates by the fire!
So basically our photos do not do our meal justice – it was phenomenal, seriously. It is easy to see why Ees Wyke Country House has been awarded an AA rosette for the 7th year running and have maintained an entry in the Good Food Guide and Good Hotel Guides for 12 years. Everything was absolutely delicious made using the very best local produce from top local suppliers and we savoured every single bite. The only thing that was missing was the atmosphere as we were the only people eating, but I imagine in the summer months when the dining room is full, there is atmosphere aplenty. Fit to burst from the amazing offering and a cheeky bottle of wine we retired to the sitting room for a cup of tea in front of the real roaring fire. However, we did not last long as the combination of full stomachs and heat from the fire meant we retired to bed quite early.
Breakfast at Ees Wake Country House is served at 8.30am until 9.15am, therefore, we set our alarm eager to try what was on offer and keeping our fingers crossed that the food was as scrummy as what had been served up the night before. Guess what – it was! With a breakfast buffet available in the centre of the room offering cereals, pastries, yoghurts, fruits and juice we helped ourselves to a few bits before ordering from the cooked options menu, which contained lots of choices. I opted for poached eggs on toast, whilst Mr ESLT chose the full English breakfast, which I must admit I was slightly jealous of when I saw it, even though mine was lovely. Served with toast and lashings of tea and coffee, we certainly ate and drank our fill, it was the perfect way to start our day.
Things To Do & See In The Area
There are so many things to do in the Lake District it’s hard to narrow them down to just a few. But regardless of what you choose to do or see whilst in the area, Ees Wyke Country House is a great base. Here you have a homely and comfortable place to chill out and rest your head. And because the food on offer is amazing it is also the perfect place to refuel and enjoy the company of your travel companion(s) whether that be your partner, family or friends. Here are our top 5 picks of things to do in Ambleside and surrounding area:
- Loughrigg Fell – a hill perfect for walks and hikes which offers amazing views
- Wray Castle – a Victorian neo-gothic building at Claife
- Bridge House – stands over Stock Beck in the middle of Ambleside
- Rydal Hall Gardens – the gardens of Rydal Hall which was built in the 16th Century
- Fairfield Horseshoe – a classic circular hillwalking ridge walk route
Even though Ees Wyke is not somewhere we would normally choose, we soon realised that country houses and independent hotels have something extra to offer than faceless chain hotels. Here, we were made to feel at home from the second we walked through the door and we certainly got the feeling that nothing was too much trouble and that we were genuinely welcome. Again, the setting, views and food really made our stay and it was just a shame that we only had one night as we really loved getting away from it all. It is evident from the reviews on numerous sites that Ees Wyke Country House is a popular getaway destination and one you really should consider when visiting the Lake District and somewhere we would love to stay at again in the future.
Bed and Breakfast tariff: from £90.00 – £155.00 per night. All prices are per room per night for two people, single occupancy rates are available. Three-course dinner £29.95 per person (prices correct as at January 2018).
- We stayed at the Ees Wyke Country House on a complimentary DB & B basis. All opinions are our own!