Short Breaks - The Pheasant, Bassenthwaite Lake, Cumbria
PUBLISHED: 00:16 18 March 2011 | UPDATED: 19:01 20 February 2013
One of the country's oldest inns combines history with cutting-edge hospitality. Roger Borrell reports
Do you ken John Peel with his coat so gay? Probably not. Its a song that has gone out of style since they told stopped the unspeakable from chasing the inedible. And the meaning of the word gay has changed so much since the 19th century that today you wouldnt think of applying it to a chaps jacket unless you were a scriptwriter for Are You Being Served?
There are some who insist the line is his coat so grey. Banish the thought. Grey is not a word you would think of as you approached the legendry huntsmans old watering hole, The Pheasant, beside Bassenthwaite Lake.
This 500-year-old building is one of Englands finest inns, a whitewashed haven of tranquillity in glorious countryside and just a short distance
from the A66.
As soon as you walk through the door you know you are in for a special experience. Suddenly, your head fills with clichs about slipping through a portal to less stressful times. Stuffed fish stare at you from glass cases and the sound of crackling log fires fill the air. If you are a fan of pubs with cosy corners and proper beer, youll be smitten.
Spielberg couldnt have created a better ye olde inn for a movie set. The difference is every inch of The Pheasant is real, from the oak settles to the polished wood bar. The walls are an extraordinary cochineal, the result of hundreds of years of nicotine deposited before the smoking ban and covered every 20 years with a layer of varnish.
Many years ago the Pheasants unique selling point was its bar and its history. Under Matthew Wylie it has maintained both, but now takes a forward-looking approach to service, accommodation and food.
This has been recognised with several awards in recent years and the level of service is efficient and relaxed without ever being lax. The staff are chatty and helpful and seem to enjoy working there.
The 15 individually-designed bedrooms combine antique furniture with beautiful fabrics and state-of-the-art bathrooms. The beds are comfortable, theres an early morning tea service and radios are provided if you need to be amused.
The old dining room is now a new bistro with a good-looking menu but the main event is in the swish new dining room where the kitchen team shows imagination and flair with many local ingredients.
We sampled a rack of lamb and a short rib of beef. Both would be hard to fault and were as good as anything served to the Lancashire Life team in the past 12 months.
Once the plates have been dispensed with, there are two comfortable lounges and the icing on the cake for me is the fact there is no music and no television and the magazine rack contains a copy of Lancashire Life.
All this and good taste!
The Pheasant, Bassenthwaite Lake, Cumbria, CA13 9YE. 017687 76234.