This is part 2 of my Cumbrian Christmas road trip…

We’re feeling super-Christmassy now, as we’ve been having the Cumbrian Xmas experience for a couple of days and have taken the drive from Stockdalewath towards Carlisle to visit Beech House Holidays.


The lovely Anna Aston greets us at the front of her completely beautiful converted barn in the Cumbrian wilds resting a few minutes drive north of the National Park. Anna converted the threshing barn herself into the most immaculate and comfortable piece of hotel design now called Beech House Hotel. “I want this to work like a ski chalet, where you can have a service giving you exactly what you need whenever you want it,” she says.


Up to eight people can sleep and dine here, for as long as they want, but can also stay self-catering.


Anna’s chef Nicola is cooking for us tonight and the four of us start talking food and drink while the cooking takes place – in fact we spend all night talking about good food, Jamie and what teaching kids about cooking can achieve. These are my kind of hosts; utterly devoted to supplying guests with local, sustainable produce of the highest quality from ethical sources. We are also getting pretty excited about the Christmas-inspired dinner Nicola is effortlessly preparing.

So, what was Nicola cooking up for us today?


Well, first came Workington hand-dived scallops of the kind of sweet-nuttiness and ocean-ozone that means a plateful is perfectly balanced.

Venison, sweet and tender came next, served up with a braised red cabbage that had it all – the secret being no vinegar, just red wine! Sprouts and pancetta and lovely roast potatoes, beetroot and carrots.


Then the show-stopper – a salted caramel fondant (gluten-free, incredibly) crisp on the outside with an oozy, sweet-salty centre. Come… on!

Port and a seriously well done cheeseboard (including a surprisingly moreish unpasteurized Wensleydale) rounded off a beautiful experience.


The surroundings are beautiful, the hostess lovely, the food sublime, the bedroom and bathroom blissful, the night’s sleep deep; I feel relaxed, refreshed and reinvigorated to take on the next challenge – read about the astonishing Overwater Hall here.

For further details on Beech House visit site.

Read parts 1 and 3…



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