CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Lancashire Life today CLICK HERE

Short break - The Cottage in the Wood, Magic Hill, near Keswick

PUBLISHED: 00:00 07 August 2015 | UPDATED: 18:58 23 March 2016

Cottage in the Wood

Cottage in the Wood

Not Archant

Cottage in the Wood is a hidden gem in several respects, as Roger Borrell discovered when he ventured into the forest

The magazine that tumbled from the newspaper urged me to discover ‘how to tone the dad bod and lose inches from your waist.’

I spent a few moment translating this into English and decided that losing inches from this particular granddad bod would simply mean my trousers falling down and I’d be required to buy new ones.

Dismissing this as a plan, I threw the magazine to one side and instead turned to the tasting menu at a place called The Cottage in the Wood, a 17th century coaching inn deep in the Whinlatter Forest but not too far from Keswick.

It perches on the side of a steep road called Magic Hill and that’s an entirely appropriate address as the standard of hospitality they conjure up is as good as anything I’ve experienced in the Lakes. Situated in what is, apparently, England’s only true mountain forest, this place is a hidden gem in several respects.

Former university lecturer Kath Berney and her husband, Liam, a chef turned teacher, took it over in 2002 when, as Liam says, it was ‘a bit of nightmare...an embarrassment.’ Run down and in need of a new roof, they concentrated on providing great food and genuinely warm hospitality and, with the help of a good builder, managed to reinvent the place.

Today, you might call it a boutique hotel with eight rooms and a garden suite, all of them recently refurbished. The Berneys avowed aim was to create something special but not so overwhelmingly upmarket it became exclusive and prohibitively expensive. I like it when a plan comes together.

The public rooms are chic without being ostentatious and the dining room has terrific views across the hotel’s three acres of fellside gardens towards the mighty Skiddaw. Here, overlooking a terrace, you can sit and become mesmerised by the wealth of bird life and, if you’re really lucky spot a red squirrel or deer.

However, bird watching gets interrupted when the well-tutored waiting staff bring you things to eat as they did in a relaxed but regular fashion when we tried this tasting menu.

It has been created by Chris Archer, a 27-year-old who has been gaining a reputation as a bit of a kitchen wunderkind. He started cooking in his teens and he says he’s never bettered the batch of scones he made when he was a lad. They must have been very good.

Chris, pictured above, has a dazzling CV. He completed a three year apprenticeship at two Michelin-starred Winteringham Fields under chef Germaine Shwab before joining chef Daniel Clifford as the two Michelin-starred Midsummer House. Most recently, he worked at The Yorke Arms near Harrogate, another Michelin-rated establishment.

This is his first post in charge of the kitchen. Owner Liam started his working life as a chef and was at the Midland Hotel in Manchester before moving into teaching, eventually becoming an Ofsted inspector. He admits there is little he can teach Chris about cooking but is educating him in the dark arts of management.

After eating dinner prepared by Chris, I know what Liam means. His modern take on a prawn cocktail with Scottish langoustines, avocado and tomato was an exceptional curtain-raiser while the Whitehaven turbot and brown shrimps with wild garlic was a lesson in how to cook this premium fish. His Cumbrian ribeye was transformed by an accompanying bolognaise while the simply named dessert of strawberries and cream and another chocolate and cherry concoction called BFG, masked complex dishes full of wit and wisdom.

Breakfast, overseen with friendly efficiency by Kath, was superb. How many places have you stayed where they have a breakfast special? This one was scrambled duck eggs and mushrooms on sour dough.

In between eating, we stayed in the garden room which is sophisticated and well equipped with a movie star bathroom.

Getting ready the next morning, it struck me that perhaps I would need some new trousers after all. w

The Cottage in the Wood, a runner-up in the Lancashire Life Food & Drink Awards in 2011, is at Magic Hill, Whinlatter Forest, Braithwaite, near Keswick, CA12 5TW. 017687 78409.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Lancashire Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Lancashire Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Lancashire Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Art is just one of the many attraction on offer in this busy Lakeland town.

Read more
Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Garstang is a lovely old market town and the perfect place to walk off the Christmas dinner. John Lenehan reports

Read more
Thursday, November 29, 2018

Christmas traps many people indoors so it is nice to get out into the wild and breathe in some fresh air. The Wildlife Trust’s Alan Wright finds a hidden corner where you can look out for lots of birds

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

This pretty coastal town has an irresistible pulling power for people wanting to set up their own business and that’s good news for locals and visitors

Read more
Tuesday, November 27, 2018

This Lancashire city is transforming itself into a centre for the best food and drink, hospitality and heritage

Read more
Preston
Friday, November 16, 2018

With the West Pennine Moors and the summits of Rivington Pike and Winter Hill right on its doorstp, Bolton has plenty of options for walkers.

Read more
Bolton
Monday, November 12, 2018

Lytham Hall was the spectacular setting for a glittering weekend of steam engines, tractors, cars and family fun.

Read more

Barrowford is one of Lancashire’s most stylish towns but it also has some quirky tales to tell

Read more

The busy West Lancashire village of Parbold scores highly for natural beauty and community spirit

Read more

The two-and-a-half year initiative to preserve the remains of the copper mines.

Read more
Coniston
Thursday, November 8, 2018

Books by Lancashire writer Paula Daly are being filmed in the Lakes by the Broadchurch team for a six-part TV drama starring Rochdale’s Anna Friel

Read more
Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Fact and fiction merge to create a tale of murder and kidnap in a novel based on Rufford Old Hall by National Trust volunteer Margaret Lambert

Read more

Liverpool has always buzzed, even in its darker days, but today it’s booming, and underpinning the resurgence are institutions with roots deep in the Merseyside soil

Read more
Liverpool
Friday, November 2, 2018

With carpets of damp fallen leaves and rotting deadwood covering woodlands, autumn is the time when fungi of all shapes and sizes thrive. The Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Molly Toal explores the mushroom kingdom.

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Property Search