Short break - Waternook, Ullswater
PUBLISHED: 00:00 03 October 2015 | UPDATED: 10:19 28 April 2016
A couple have taken a run-down farmhouse overlooking Ullswater and created one of the north’s most luxurious holiday lets, writes Roger Borrell
Diane and Paul Gordon fell in love with the Lake District and then with each other when they met there as students. They spent their honeymoon walking the fells and it was a favourite holiday destination all their married life.
When they eventually moved from Oxford to Borrowdale their intention was to spend at least part of their retirement with their boots on exploring the countryside. Then along came Waternook.
This outstanding 17th century house, overlooking the shore of Ullswater, seemed like the perfect location for their son Dominic to set up a bed and breakfast.
‘We painted it out and, despite the fact not one of the bedrooms was en suite, it did amazingly well,’ said Diane. Then Dominic decided he wanted to go elsewhere to pursue his career in the hospitality industry and the Gordons were left to ponder what to do with the house.
‘We decided we needed to make all of the bedrooms en suite and it just grew from there,’ she added. ‘It really took over our lives for the next two years.’
The house, set in 26 acres with half a mile of shoreline, was surrounded by giant conifers that were so overgrown they touched the house. ‘When we had them removed we were just blown away. We knew the views were good but these were breathtaking.’
Inspired by this, they set about building a substantial new wing with a kitchen and dining area with floor-to-ceiling windows and folding doors opening onto a large terrace. At the other side they created a spa and wellness ‘sanctuary’ featuring a holistic sauna and bar leading out to a yoga infinity terrace with hot tub again giving exceptional lake views.
At the centre of the house they installed a cinema room, bristling with the latest home entertainment technology. In fact, the house has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth throughout and an integrated music system, perfect for a house party or wedding gathering.
Luxurious doesn’t really begin to describe the place. It has to be one of the best self-catering houses in the north and it has a five star Gold Award from the tourist people to prove it.
Outside, The Great Barn was transformed from a place to keep junk into a second holiday rental with four sumptuous bedrooms and a living space with its own dance floor.
‘We wanted to put our own mark on Waternook,’ said Diane. ‘For that reason we decided not to hire an interior designer. When we weren’t on site projecting managing we were out and about in the area sourcing items for the interior of the property.’
Much of it was purchased locally and Lake District craftsmen were employed to complete the refurbishment. A great job they did, too, with beautifully worked wood and wrought iron fittings throughout the property which has a classic but modern persona.
The five first floor luxury bedroom suites (there’s another on the ground floor) are individually designed and named after the local topographic features. They are opulent as anything you’d find in a top hotel yet they have a homely feel that adds to the all-pervading feeling of calm. The bathrooms are outstanding with quality fittings in stone and porcelain and some give you the opportunity to soak in the bath while watching the constantly changing scenery. One even has a sunken water-resistant bath TV.
Handcrafted ‘And So To Bed’ furnishings and top of the range ViSprung Elite mattresses (on two super king size, three king size and one double) means a great night’s sleep is always on the cards.
Its location means Waternook has a wonderful sense of isolation yet the steamer pier is just a short walk and Pooley Bridge is a ten minute drive. If you don’t want to join the throng of holidaymakers on the steamer, Waternook has its own boathouse and private jetty. For a fast escape, there is also space for a helicopter pad.
But then, why would you ever want to leave Waternook? w
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