Winder Hall Blog

“To all the staff at Winder Hall, Thank you for making us feel so welcome”

March 11th, 2013 by Winder Hall | No Comments

“To all the staff at Winder Hall, Thank you for making us feel so welcome – we have really enjoyed our stay.  See you again!”

John and Linda – London – March 2013

Cooking with love – a Cumbrian affair!

February 25th, 2013 by Winder Hall | No Comments

There’s a wealth of local, fine food on your doorstep

Singing Chef, Nick Lawler at Taste Cumbria

Taste Cumbria Food Demo 2012

Cooking is all about love.   It can be hard to remember as a busy parent juggling jobs and family life.  But deep down, that hastily cobbled together meal on the table, keeping the tribe fed and watered, isn’t just cooked for survival – it is cooked out of love.  Most restaurant chefs I know, cook for love too…  well, love first, then ego and money!

Sadly, for those of us who love to cook as much as we love to eat, it can be pretty hard falling in love with something wrapped in cellophane, especially when you have no idea where all the components have come from!   The good thing is Cumbria is more than a little bit different and … I can tell you the secret:

The food you love to eat is grown right here in Cumbria

Imagine this: a world-renowned restaurant headed by a mega-celebrity chef in the beating heart of any global metropolis.  You know the place, right?  Well I love the adventure and excitement of eating there too – even if I like less the burning hole it leaves in my wallet.

The contrast? A tiny cafe and farm shop tucked away in green valleys surrounded by craggy mountains, perhaps in Borrowdale, Buttermere, Eskdale or Langdale.  Even those old Viking names evoke how close we are to our Cumbrian heritage, the beauty of our natural landscape and the food we grow.  Now imagine stepping outside that cafe and seeing the sheep, the cows, the smell of wild garlic in Spring, or the rich pickings of damsons and brambles in the Autumn, the background noise of the mountain stream that feeds the micro-brewery that made your lunchtime beer.  For those of us lucky enough to live and work here in Cumbria, we love it too and it is the secret to why Cumbrian food is special.  Not much cling-film round here!

View of the fells from outside Winder Hall Country House B&B near Cockermouth

Cumbrian view outside Winder Hall Country House in Lorton

Cumbria isn’t quaint or stuck in some by-gone era.  We are ahead of our time.  We are leading the way when it comes to getting real about the food chain, animal welfare, sustainability, the relationship between the man-made and the natural environment. It’s about our responsibility for future generations, and why the quality of what we put in our mouths and where it comes from is just so important. It’s also about enjoyment!

You can see, hear, smell, touch and TASTE the difference.   Give yourself a bit of love and enjoy what’s on offer right here in Cumbria this year.  I can promise you, we will love you right back with some life-changing Cumbrian food and hospitality.

Nick Lawler is the Chair of the Taste Cumbria Food Festival Working Group, held in Cockermouth during the last weekend in September  and the Chef/Proprietor of Winder Hall Country House & Restaurant

Rock & blues comes to Cockermouth – Aynsley Lister is hitting town!

February 22nd, 2013 by Winder Hall | No Comments

Blistering blues star comes to town centre live music venue Cumbria

On February 24th the awesomely good guitarist and rock and blues singer will play at The Saints Rooms in Cockermouth. He’s played Glastonbury amongst many other music festivals, and is just another one of our artists who is playing here before hitting The Maryport Blues festival in the summer! We feel very lucky to have an amazing line up in 2013, and it’s really putting The Saints Rooms on the map as a great venue for events.

Reviews for Aynsley have included these great words: “Superb” The Times and “His guitar playing is a fire hazard!” MOJO

To buy your tickets in advance and find out a little more information on timing, please click here Top Table Promotions
Tickets £12.00 advance – £15 on the door

When explosive natural ability collides with fiery, emotionally charged compositions, the result is Aynsley Lister; an incredible guitarist whose brand of blues-based rock delivers contemporary song writing fueled with the kind of heart and soul that’s missing from so much modern music. Whether passionately writing and recording his own material or mesmerising audiences at his live shows one thing is abundantly clear: music is hard-wired to his DNA and flows from his fingertips like sonic bolts of lightning.

More amazing gigs will follow through the year, including Chantel McGregor, The King Kings, Ryan McGarvey, The Mentulls, Lucy Zirins and more….. we’re like the pre-run for the Maryport Blues Festival – so exciting!

Come and spend  a fantastic Sunday with us listening to excellent entertainment right  here in Cockermouth, Cumbria. It all kicks off 4ish so time to let your hair down, but be back in time for a fresh Monday morning start!  Ennerdale real ale available by the pint or bottle, full bar and at the risk of sounding like something out of the 70′s…… a chance to chill to great vibes!

A shot in the arm for Cockermouth food market

February 18th, 2013 by Winder Hall | No Comments

Live local. Buy local. Love local! Cockermouth food market is to be relaunched by Cumbrian Food Direct!


Locally sourced, fresh produce from Cumbrian Food Direct

Here at Winder Hall Country House we’re excited that Cumbrian Food Direct are taking over the local food market in Cockermouth. A real shot in the arm to keeping the market tradition going strong on the first Saturday of each month, and a great opportunity for local suppliers to promote and sell their Cumbrian produce. We’ll be there – will you?

You may not realise that we have our own fabulous Saddleback pigs on Nick’s smallholding just down the road. We often provide hog roasts for outside catering and wedding celebrations at Winder Hall, and it will be great fun to have a stall at the market selling burgers or hog roast through the year. We can’t wait to be part of another local initiative to promote the wide range of fabulous food in this county. No unidentified horsemeat here!

On a serious note, in these strange times of mass produced food and uncertain provenance, the drive for excellent, reasonably priced, trackable food just gets stronger. The recent “horsegate”  scandal only adds fuel to the fire and passion for homegrown produce. Cumbrian Food Direct, who source from local suppliers wherever possible, have taken the proverbial bull  by the horns, and in addition to their excellent online shopping service, have committed to taking over the food market to ensure its continued presence. They are really putting their money where their mouth is.

They are working closely with Allerdale Borough Council, Riversmeet Community Cooperative, Cockermouth Chamber of Trade, Cockermouth School and other key organisations and businesses such as ours, to support and revive the market.

So if you are interested in a stall, contact Kerry on 01900 818028 for a market stall in Market place or Rik Cross on 01900 825791 for an indoor table. At £15 and £10 respectively along with promotion from CFD and associates, it has to be a great opportunity to show off your fabulous wares. And if you are not a supplier – well come along and see us all – taste and buy the tip top food on offer! With organisations such as Cumbrian Food Direct, Taste Cumbria and Foodlink Northwest encouraging pride in local sourcing and supply, access to reasonably priced, delicious local food gets easier every day.

Locally sourced, fresh produce from Cumbrian Food Direct












Valentines menu and special offer at Winder Hall Lake District

January 16th, 2013 by Winder Hall | No Comments

Treats for Valentines at Lake District restaurant

Valentines Menu Winder Hall Country House near Cockermouth Lake DistrictOur new chef has been experimenting which always makes us very happy here at Winder Hall as we got a chance to try all the dishes!! So apart from the fact that I now need to go on a cabbage soup diet after testing out the desserts, all is on track for a really lovely Valentines dinner or special break at Winder Hall!

We love to change the menu seasonally, and this month there’s a wonderful feast including fabulous local seafood, our very own Winder Hall pork and a range of desserts to suit every taste. The website has all the menus up so you can download  the special Valentine’s menu or a copy of the seasonal February menu if you’d like to take a look.

Valentine’s is one of those traditions that we love to hang on to and as our general manager Sarah is a total romantic, we know she’ll have some extra special touches  for the evening and over the weekend (our menu runs from 14th through 16th February. We’ve even got a rare one night stay in Greystone’s our stunning four poster on the Friday night at the special rate of £135.

Last year it was St Bridget’s complaint and we were waiting for some ladies to propose! It didn’t happen but we’ve had a fair few proposals over the last 12 months, and several have now booked their exclusive wedding at Winder. Whatever diners and guests do that Valentine’s weekend, we’re including  a lovely glass of bubbly and canapes before dinner to set the evening off with a sparkle!! Can’t wait to make it all cosy, romantic and intimate….. now I just need to work on persuading my dear hubby into taking ME out for Valentines!!

Winder Hall pre dinner canapes


Wedding Industry Awards shortlist result – wow we’re proud at Winder Hall

January 16th, 2013 by Winder Hall | 1 Comment

Great result for Winder Hall & Chris Freer Photography Cumbria

Well what a year! We were really over the moon to hear that we had been shortlisted as the only Cumbrian & Lake District venue to reach the regional finals of The Wedding Industry Awards, and were double delighted to find out that Chris Freer (a photographer who has taken fantastic pictures of many weddings at Winder Hall) was the only Cumbrian professional photographer to make it through to this stage.

About The Wedding Industry Awards:

These independent awards are the brainchild of Damian and Anna Bailey. Damian is an award-winning wedding photographer. Damian’s wife, Anna, is also from a strong event management background. They’ve created a really wonderful event, and we’ve been so impressed by the organisation – it’s been fun too!

The judging panel was packed with experts in the field, from the editor of You and Your Wedding magazine to some of the country’s premier wedding movers and shakers. It also included the Director of leading entertainment company Sternberg Clarke who counts two of the Spice Girls’ weddings among his successes. We are delighted to have been a part of this prestigious process.

What an honour to be in the regional finals AND the only Cumbrian venue to make it this far. We have been humbled by the feedback we received via the Wedding Industry Awards & you can find all of this on our Weddings website. We’d love to share a few comments here on people’s experience & why they booked Winder Hall:

Everything was just perfect. The grounds were lovely the house was great. The food was awesome. So much so I had a bit of everything. The hog roast in the evening was unbelievable all my friends still talk about it now. Nothing was too much trouble it was just the perfect day. Highly recommend.

Nick, Kate and the team at Winder have a very personable approach. From first to last contact our day felt like it was tailored to us. We had a very strong ‘buy local’ ethic to uphold and Nick is passionate about local produce. Our guests all felt at home at Winder and NOTHING was too much trouble.

To see all the feedback please take a look at our page on the awards, and if you would like to have a chat with us please do call Heli or Toni on 01900 85107 or click here to receive more information on our weddings.

Thank you to everyone who voted for us, and we can’t wait to host more wonderful weddings in 2013! We’re getting pretty busy, with lots of romantic & intimate celebrations as well as a big marquee wedding in April. Not forgetting all the outside catering we do at other venues – busy year ahead! Now, to planning a fabulous Valentine’s break :)

Gifts galore from award winning Winder Hall in The Lake District

November 17th, 2012 by Winder Hall | No Comments

Gift vouchers, hampers and more make perfect Christmas presents from Lake District country house


Well here’s a development! Winder Hall near Cockermouth in the Lake District has upped its game! We often get requests to create vouchers as presents for people, and we thought it was about time we took this to the logical next step of creating an online gift shop in time for Christmas. Then we got thinking about how money is tight for most people around this time of year, and that offering a limited number of really special B&B deals for 2013 would allow pennies to go a bit further with a really special present.

Click here to go shopping…

After much head scratching and challenges to Kate’s technological skills (!), we have come up with an online gift site offering a range of vouchers to suit all wallets. We’ve tried to create a range of exciting ideas including general “any use” vouchers and afternoon tea, Sunday lunch and dining specific vouchers. We’ve added 100 accommodation ones for B&B during 2013 with up to 50% discount off usual rates. These will be available up to 18th December or until the 100 are sold, depending which comes first!

What’s more is we’ve been asked so often about Winder Hall’s own local produce that we’ve now put together some fabulous baskets of goodies all beautifully wrapped in sellophane & gold ribbon. You can even create your own from the list of  goodies available. We can’t deliver these at the moment (that’s one step too far for Kate this year!) but we’re working on it! In the meantime, we will create them for you within 14 days and they will be ready for you to collect from us at Winder.

It always excites us when something that has been requested by our lovely guests and customers starts a process that results in a new stage of business at Winder Hall. Obviously we hope that it will bring a wider audience to our beautiful country guest house, but we also feel we’re offering something a bit unique that gives great value – something we’re all looking for in quite challenging times! Great gifts at great prices that fits within our goal of hospitality with a big heart! We’ll keep developing ideas, and as usual many of them will have been born through your suggestions! We really appreciate them and hope you keep them coming for many years to come….

Click here to go shopping…

Cockermouth comes up trumps in The Wedding Industry Awards!

November 7th, 2012 by Winder Hall | No Comments

Our intimate, romantic country house wedding venue in shortlist for The Wedding Industry Awards!!

There’s quite a buzz in the air at Winder Hall today! Our romantic little hidden gem has been shortlisted for The Wedding Industry Awards 2013 and we couldn’t be more delighted. It is, of course thanks to the lovely couples who have entrusted us with their wedding celebrations that we are in this position. We didn’t imagine that little ol’ Winder Hall would be in the running, but it is their votes that have put us there, and a massive thanks is due to all of them! We are the only Lake District venue to be shortlisted, and up against some extremely worthy other entrants in the North West! Proud to be nominated alongside Ribby Hall, West Tower and Bartle Hall Hotel. The area here, close to Buttermere, Keswick and Cockermouth is just perfect. Within 15 minutes of 5 of the finest lakes, the only mountain forest at Whinlatter, and a generally breathtaking backdrop it’s not hard to set the right scene. All you need to add then is that bit of magic to make dreams come true!!

And to put our corner of the Lake District on the wedding map even more firmly, our friend Chris Freer of Chris Freer Photography in Cockermouth has also come up trumps as the only shortlisted photographic business in the District or Cumbria! Chris has taken wedding photos at loads of venues, including Winder Hall. Indeed, we featured many of his pictures in our listing on The Wedding Industry Awards website!

He’s extremely professional, but adds that personal touch. It brings to mind a cracking example of this:  when Kirsteen and Thom held their wedding celebrations at Winder Hall on Sunday 28th October and the weather was truly atrocious (which obviously made photos difficult in the dwindling light), he didn’t call it a day after the event. No, back he came the next morning to take loads more of them in their stunning wedding outfits so they would have the complete package. Going that extra mile – that’s what it is all about for both businesses!

Well, we’ll see what the regional shortlists bring for Lake District Weddings, but we’re just over the moon to have hit the mark and represent the area alongside Chris in the awards so far. A massive thank you again to all who voted for us – we feel so lucky that many of you return time and again to see us, and relive happy memories. Hospitality with a big heart, and life long memories – that’s what we aspire to each and every day, whether at Winder Hall, The Saints Rooms or when we provide outside catering at other excellent venues. Roll on the regional finalist result….


Piglet with an identity crisis

October 6th, 2012 by Nick | No Comments
Winder Hall piglet with an identity crisis










This particular piglet is enjoying his free-range life-style more than most. Having tunnelled under the barbed-wire to make his escape, he has formed an alliance with Alfie the terrier and seems reluctant to re-join his brothers and sisters in the pig paddock.  He now eats from the dog bowl in the kennels, plays tag with Alfie and enjoys a good tummy-rub from me.  Not sure he has the potential to be the next ‘Babe’ but any agent wishing to promote his Hollywood ambitions, can contact me at

Channel 4′s Four in a Bed – What an experience!

July 4th, 2012 by Winder Hall | No Comments

Well what a week this has been! We were offered the opportunity of putting Winder Hall and the area of the Lake District we are lucky enough to be in (near Cockermouth) a little bit more firmly “On the map”, when Cumbria Tourism pointed Channel 4 our way for “Four in a Bed”.

Nick Lawler and Caroline (the lovely producer from Channel 4) won me over after my initial concerns – I was worried about the impact (but then again, I always like to have something to worry about!) But d’you know what? I think I’m really glad we went for it!

It was a real eye opener to be behind the scenes and involved in the filming process, and it’s been an education to see the final cut of the show. I managed not to drop the microphone down the toilet when going for a pee (one of my fears!) and the crew were great fun, so as a “do something scary every day” experience, it was great fun. And let’s face it, hospitality like most businesses is going through tough times, so hopefully the publicity won’t do us any harm – in fact, it’s already brought in some new guests. Can’t wait for the first arrivals tomorrow night – they will experience us in stereo – watch us on TV, then pop down for a drink – rather surreal I should think!!

To be sure there are a few uncomfortable moments. We made some mistakes, and I’m still not sure we quite got the hang of the scoring system, but we’ve had amazing feedback from people so far. Mainly on good old Facebook where we’re lucky enough to enjoy keeping in touch with friends, guests and those who we hope will visit us soon. There has also been plenty from people texting us and phoning Winder Hall to have a giggle with us about it.

Good grief, we haven’t even got to Winder Hall’s episode yet and Nick and I are feeling a little apprehensive. But our 15 minutes of fame will soon be yesterday’s news. In the meantime, I hope that those who know us well realise that we’re doing our best and putting ourselves out there to bring some extra interest in our beautiful Country House AND The Lake District and Cumbria in general.

We work with great organisations like Cumbria Tourism, My Cumbria and Western Lake District & Coast amongst others, and all of us are fiercely proud of where we are. Disappointed that we didn’t get chance to show off more of The Lakes during the programme, but hey, they have to make entertaining TV and I think with all the characters involved it certainly isn’t dull! Just hope that some who see the show think it would be fun to come and give us a try! Just as I’m sure many will want to go and see the lovely Wendy and John at Packhorse and Smokey Joe’s in Louth – what a cracking place and fantastic people. We had good fun!

Oh, and despite the angle shown so far, The “So you think you want to run a B&B?” course is about diving in to the realities, and the real ups and downs not a masterclass in perfection! We reckon we could have saved many, many thousands of pounds if we knew when we started what we know now! Really pleased that so many people have expressed an interest, and will hopefully join us for a fun couple of days.

In the spirit of making the most of the hay while the sun shines, if any of you would like to receive our great Four in a Bed offer or would like info on the B&B eye opener course, pop your details in here and we’ll be in touch! Meanwhile, off to watch tonight’s episode now I’ve got my lovely daughter to bed, washing done, dishwasher emptied, dog walked… oh the glamorous life of a Four in a Bed contestant!