Winder Hall Blog

A New Year at Winder Hall

January 6th, 2014 by Winder Hall | No Comments

Diet Coke Moment

‘Nick had been working very hard all the morning, spring cleaning his little hotel. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his (ahem) black fur, and an aching back and weary arms.’ ‘It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly flung down his brush on the floor, said “Bother!” and “O blow!” and also “Hang spring-cleaning!” and bolted out of the house without even waiting to put on his coat.’

Just like the mole we’re all getting a little fed-up with painting, plastering and scrubbing. No-one actually stormed out to go and see Mr Rat fortunately, although we did need a little light relief. So what do passionate hoteliers do for light relief? They create amazing experiences for their guests.

Everyone, including ourselves, will have kicked off the New Year in fine style, I am sure. In order to kick off Winder Hall’s New Year we’ve come up with some incredible offers, because we can’t wait to see you all back here.

We are going to have lovely evenings on the 31st of January and 1st of February in the dining room, the usual selection of fine food, wine and four courses for £25 will be on offer along with a warming glass of Winter Pimms on arrival. Check out the menu and whats on offer.

Perhaps, even more special is our offer of one nights Dinner, Bed and Breakfast for £140 available from the 31st of January until the 6th of February. Relax, unwind and have a great time with this deal, as part of the celebrations we’re even go to put a chilled, crisp, bottle of Prosecco in your room. Have a look at some of the delights you could be sampling.

Don’t worry if you can’t make it to one of these, just keep an eye out for the incredible packages we’re putting together for the year ahead, including a very special Valentines package.

All the best.

My First Winder Pig

December 22nd, 2013 by Winder Hall | No Comments

It began by pressing play; ‘It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid’ streamed from the speakers as I slammed the pig on the counter.

She lay across the whole counter, in the space carefully left between bone saw, boning knife, steak knife, diamond cut steel, butchers block and an array of different size containers. The carefully laid out table looked like a surgery, I was just missing a nursing team and anaesthetist, although both would have been redundant at this point, a little late for pain relief. Looking over my carefully prepared lay out, I knew I was going to have a productive and enjoyable evening. I’ve always enjoyed butchery.

The irony struck me straight away, I had a dead pig in front of me. With Band Aid blaring out I had to make every cut, every retrievable, useable piece of meat and fat count. It was a responsibility I owed to the pig, that a friend, the owner of the hotel had reared from piglet.

‘Have yourself a merry little Christmas’ echoed around the empty kitchen. In my youth, I had served my apprenticeship in a butcher’s factory but this was the first time I felt I was treating my craft and my pig with the respect they both deserved.

I’ve never been a mindless butcher, but never before have I been a sentimental butcher.

After dealing with hundreds of pigs, lambs, bullocks and heffers, something about Winder Hall, the surroundings and having met this pig, alive, made me realise I was only a worker before, a cog in a machine, I was about to become a butcher.

Just as ‘our troubles will be far away’ played over the stereo, I made my first incision. The head and dead staring eyes have never disturbed me but as I cut around the neck, I did so with a heavy heart.

Completing the cut, I grasped both ears, twisted and pulled the head of this magnificent animal free.

Strange that this is how I was shown to remove a head when I was an apprentice and yet despite buying no less than seven reference books before my return to butchery, not one suggested this method. I removed all the meat from the head in the way I was shown as a young apprentice, but this time I paid more attention, I checked every crevice, every inch to ensure I wasn’t doing her an injustice.

I recalled how simple and easy it was to remove the cheeks but this time, it just wasn’t so. I hacked and slashed, eventually retrieving the precious gems. The cheeks are not being turned into sausage, it’s just respect.

The head you’re told in training, is a two minute job. I had spent twenty minutes ensuring nothing was left. Not an economic use of my time but I didn’t care, I’d paid the proper respect.

The irony really struck me as I cleaved the pig into its three main components, shoulder, loin and leg, when The Darkness started playing, ‘don’t let the bells end’ it seemed somehow more inappropriate than ‘feed the world’. Butchery is a time honoured, skilled trade that deserves nothing but respect, yet it seemed that the universe was sending me a signal; ‘The Darkness’. Is there something dark about the careful art that I was performing? I chose to take this as a sign to continue paying respect in the only way I could, ensuring nothing went to waste.

After a full day’s work, weariness set in that not even The Pogues could lift. I began to get sloppy; the bones weren’t coming out clean and I nicked my finger – very unusual. With only a shoulder left, I decided I could no longer pay the proper respect.

I wrapped and labelled all the different ‘products’ that this wonderful, giving pig had produced.

After meticulously washing and sterilising all the surfaces and equipment, I neatly stored the containers in the cold room. It felt like putting the pig to bed, perhaps for the last time.

Tomorrow, we will be making some incredible sausage, there’s belly that will be layered with black pudding and become a delightful starter on the restaurant menu.

There is loin that will be butterflied, stuffed with apricots, apple, sage and thyme and provide the perfect meat for a happy couple’s wedding breakfast.

The bones will provide a superb stock, going into all kinds of wonderful sauces. The skin is destined to be crisp, addictive crackling. As I put the tenderloin away, thinking of the sharp yet subtle salad it could become the crown of, I realised I wasn’t putting this pig to bed for the last time.

This pig’s final resting place, after she has fulfilled her wide reaching destiny, is in the smile on your face.

If you would like to try some of our wonderful produce check out a sample menu. With just over a month left until we re-open, we’re still working away getting the place ready so you could be just in time time to buy a gift voucher for christmas.

Top Western Lake District Views

December 13th, 2013 by Winder Hall | No Comments


Just like Winder Hall, the Lake District is a stunning place to visit at any time of the year and to celebrate this we have teamed up with Western Lake District to support their photography competition that has pulled together some of the finest local views .The photograph above ‘Cold Morning View of Wastwater’ was taken by Grants Finley,Grant has captured a spectacular photograph of England’s deepest lake and has deservedly won the competition. For more fantastic photographs go to Western Lake District Views

To check out all the runners up, winners and more fantastic photos check out the face book page Western Lake District

Cedar Tree Launch

July 29th, 2013 by Winder Hall | No Comments

With the arrival of Tim Brown, our new Head Chef, we decided it was time to celebrate his passion and palate with a re-launch of our dining room experience.  Open to residents and non-residents alike, Tim’s food blends local ingredients, like mutton from Terrace Farm in Lorton, along with  flavours and spices from around the world.  Coriander, wasabi, star anise, cinnamon, chillies, lemongrass, coconut and cedar all feature in Tim’s cooking.  Expect some pleasant surprises.

We want you to soak up Winder Hall’s unique atmosphere, perhaps with an aperitif of cedar and lemon-scented Prosecco on the terrace, whilst browsing the menu and wine list on the terrace.  We don’t want you to rush, take dinner at your own pace, retire to the lounge for coffee and home-made fudge.
We have named Tim’s evening dining experience after our very own Winder Hall cedar tree for a reason.  Our tree came from the Lebanon about 150 years ago.  Imported by Mr Dixon who owned Winder Hall at the time.  Our cedar may not be native to Cumbria, but it has put down roots in Lorton, just like us.  Our tree represents those two things – Tim’s love of travel and exotic flavours along with having deep roots in Cumbria and the provenance of our local foods.
We are decidedly not a restaurant; limited choice from a carefully-developed menu, created that day with all our food prepared fresh on-site is what we do best.  To keep it special we ask you to book in advance.  We look forward to seeing you back at Winder Hall and the Cedar Tree Dining Room very soon.
Click here to see a sample menu.

Out in the Garden

July 29th, 2013 by Winder Hall | No Comments

I’ve finally managed to get out in the Garden.  After a long harsh winter, we have now had a couple of months of amazing weather and the garden went wild!
The team inside the house are doing such a good job that they have literally put me on ‘gardening leave’ (at least some of the time) and it has given me chance to cut-back some of the shrubs and rediscover parts of the garden that had become temporarily lost.
At the front-entrance of the drive, the ivy-covered totem pole has had a trim and can now be seen peeking through.  Near the Summer House, the old gravestone has re-emerged.  I am pretty rubbish on flora and fauna but I have had lots of advice from helpful guests and members of the Winder Hall team.  Whilst ever it stays sunny, I’m going to be out in the garden, so don’t hesitate to come looking for the scruffy middle-aged hotelier to be found somewhere in the Winder Hall gardens.  And don’t hesitate to tell me what I should be doing next!

Camping in Eskdale

July 29th, 2013 by Winder Hall | No Comments

There was a time when I was happy camping.  As the family has grown and I’ve got older, I still love being outdoors but I need some basic comfort at the same time.   Thankfully I have been introduced to the joys of pod-camping.
This Spring half-term I was persuaded to take a few days off with the family in Eskdale.
Ann started to put the kit together only to discover our tent was broken beyond repair.   No surprise really as it had spent most of last Summer being used and abused by children and pets in the garden.
Ann started researching alternatives: glamping in a tepee (none available at short notice) or a Pod in Eskdale for three days at £42.50 a night for the entire family, versus £300 plus for a new tent. In theory the Pod slept four but we managed to squeeze all five of us in with no real problem and it was a pretty cost-effective solution.   Not only was it clean and dry but it had a front porch for us to sit and cook on.
The campsite has about a dozen pods now and most of the campers arrived with blow-up mattresses (complete with car battery powered electric pumps), pillows, duvets, gas barbeques and deckchairs.  We looked like the poor relations with our old foam sleeping rolls.  I suppose not having to pack tents for your holiday means you have more room in the car for creature comforts?
The toilet block, drying rooms and shop were all spotlessly clean and very well equipped.
My only minor complaint was that the canopy over the decking on our pod didn’t extend to protect us from the rain.  That said it didn’t lash down and when the sun shone, the lack of canopy meant we could sit on the deck and take in the rays.
We had a couple of fantastic days.  Hiked up Scafell Pike on the first day and with tired legs on the second, took the ‘La’al Ratty’ steam train all the way to Ravenglas, walked through the sleepy village onto the beach, past the old Roman bathhouse, up the hill and through the grounds of Muncaster Castle, rejoining the train at Muncaster Mill.  Hopped off again to explore the hidden Japanese Garden at Eskdale Green and finally picked up another train to take us back to Boot and the campsite.
There are lots of pubs in Eskdale but we had a BBQ one night and ate at The Woolpack the other two nights (Head Chef Tim’s old joint).  The kids loved the pizzas at the Woolpack and they were doing a roaring trade.
Why not top and tail a trip to Eskdale with a couple of days at Winder Hall.  My idea of the perfect Lake District holiday.

Rannerdale Massacre

May 22nd, 2013 by Winder Hall | No Comments

Horrible history and spectacular scenery near to Winder Hall.

I can’t take credit for this version of the Rannerdale Massacre but I love it so much I’ve re-printed it here word for word.

 Beautiful bluebells display close to Winder Hall

It is said that about 1000 years ago, there was a fortified homestead on the site of what is now Woodhouse, the white building that holds a prominent position at the head of Crummock. This was the home of Earl Boethar (Buttermere is said to take its name from Boethar’s mere).

When the Normans were advancing through the Lune Gap on their way north to create a stronghold at Carlisle, Boethar’s men raided the convoys of troops. In a way they were getting their own back on the advancing conquerors that had driven the natives away from their homesteads into the central core of the mountainous region. Boethar was their champion and a thorn in the flesh of the Norman’s.

His location was a closely guarded secret, but friends of his were captured, brutally tortured and his secret Buttermere hideaway was revealed. The Normans planned an attack from the rear, from the Cockermouth direction. They brought a heavily armoured troop through the oak woodlands and through the marshy valley ground to attack Boethar from the rear.

However, Boethar’s own spies brought news of this attack, and he laid his own trap. He hid his fighting men, who were known as “berserkers”, in the thickly wooded sides of what we now call Rannerdale. The Normans were lured into this valley, and struggled in the marshy conditions where they were hampered by their weight of weapons and armour. When the word was given, the berserkers swept down from the fell sides and massacred the whole Norman troop. Boethar and his berserkers were victorious. And one reason why there is such a magnificent show of bluebells – the flowers reminds us that the land on which they grow was once woodland, is that it had the finest dressing of bonemeal and blood manure it was possible to have!

Beautiful scenery at Rannerdale

The original article can be found here

It’s a great site and I highly recommend joining the group if you love walking and love the Lake District. Fancy exploring Rannerdale yourself.  It’s just a three mile drive up the valley past Crummock Water and before you get to Buttermere.

Click here for our latest offer and we hope to see you soon, Nick

Echos from our guests on Tripadvisor – it’s their feedback that matters!

April 16th, 2013 by Winder Hall | No Comments

Country house B&B hidden gem, hidden jewel, secret treasure!

Winder Hall B&B Accommodation Lake District Cumbria

I often spend time reading all the comments in our visitor’s book and on Tripadvisor here at Winder Hall, our Lake District Country House B&B close to Cockermouth, Buttermere & Keswick. We take feedback very seriously, and make sure we take all constructive criticism on board (and do something about it!) as well as enjoying the many wonderful reviews that we receive. What better way to learn than from those who experience our hospitality first hand!

What really struck me today was how powerful people’s words are! Even more exciting was the realisation that the same ones are used over and over again – hidden gem, hidden treasure, secret worth sharing etc….. It’s really made me clock that you can do all the “clever” marketing and branding in the world, but taking time to really notice what your guests say is the biggest help in shaping who you are, making sure you build on what they want and keep your identity clear – a great exercise in listening and learning!

We’ve come to the conclusion that, however fearful the industry can be of Tripadvisor, it is a vital and excellent part of our business now. We make occasional mistakes, and are the first to hold our hands up and make sure we do better each time. If these errors or issues are exposed on this traveller’s resource then we accept the feedback and work towards 100% every day. The overwhelming majority of reviews are wonderfully positive, and it really makes the whole team at Winder Hall Country House buzz to read them! Love it or hate it, Tripadvisor is here to stay, and we are firmly in favour! It helps us improve when we need to, it gives us reassurance that we are delivering really unique hospitality with warmth and professionalism, and perhaps most of all it gives massive great signposts on how to market our business – we just need to listen to our fabulous guests!!

Winder Hall is a country house B&B near Cockermouth, within fifteen minutes drive of five of the most stunning lakes. To see more information on the stunning surrounds and nearby lakes you might like to take a look here. In a beautiful part of the Lake District, Lorton is the ideal setting for a break away. So much to do and see in the area, including excellent walking from the door, Go Ape and amazing cycle trails in Whinlatter Forest (Cyclewise offers a full day’s hire for half day price to guests of Winder Hall), and the adventure capital of Keswick is also close by. Worth a visit if you fancy a break away from it all! You can come and give us your verdict!


“Another fantastic visit to Winder Hall. Everyone makes it feel special. We’ll be back!”

March 11th, 2013 by Winder Hall | No Comments

Richard and Katherine – Bedale March 2013

“Thanks for another fantastic stay”

March 11th, 2013 by Winder Hall | No Comments

“Thanks for another fantastic stay, as warm a welcome as ever. You all make our stay fabulous- all new staff and long serving, even that young chap on breakfasts was brilliant!” (We think Mr Henry might mean Nick!!)

Alistair and Ann Henry – Sept 2012