Wildly tempting array of foods at the Lake District's Wild Boar Inn
TORRENTIAL rain was quickly forgotten as a roaring log fire warmed the air in the traditional coaching inn that was to be our base for a weekend in Windermere.
We were visiting one of the Lake District's oldest Windermere hotels and after parking up in a welcome free space and enjoying a warm welcome and quick check-in, we knew we'd chosen the perfect place to stay after the long walks planned ahead.
Our room, with its relaxing and calming colour scheme of shades of pale greys, silvers and white, was the perfect environment to reboot after an invigorating day of walking. And the gorgeous White Company toiletries made for a luxurious way of soothing aching limbs.
The Wild Boar Inn Grill & Smokehouse, set in a tranquil valley close to Windermere and within the World Heritage Lake District National Park, also has its own on-site microbrewery, the Brewhouse.
There is also a smoke house, which supplies the restaurant with meats, cheeses and fish.
I therefore had to try the house-smoked fillet, particularly after reading the menu's description of it being a "most tender cut of meat with very little or no fat". It lived up to expectations and I savoured every mouthful. It really was like no other fillet I'd ever had the pleasure of devouring.
My starter choice of pan-seared Scottish scallops were melt-in-the mouth delicious and I mopped up the accompanying bacon jam and apple gel with some warm bread.
As I checked into the Wild Boar, I spotted a blackboard advertising its Affogato - vanilla ice cream and single espresso with a shot of Frangelico. This 'had me at hello' and was a perfect end to what was one of the best dining experiences I'd had a long time.
After a nightcap by the fire that greeted us when we checked in, and a rejuvenating slumber in our very calming surroundings, it didn't seem very long at all before we were back to the dining room for breakfast and the best eggs Benedict I've had in a long time with perfectly poached eggs and a luscious hollandaise sauce.
The coaching inn style of the restaurant with its open kitchen and oak beams is so welcoming and relaxing you have to tear yourself away from the calming ambience to get your hiking boots on.
We'd planned a 30,000-step day so a seven-mile walk from Windermere to Ambleside was planned. The route via Orrest Head, Troutbeck and Wansfell Pike takes in some amazing vistas of the Old Man of Coniston and Scafell Pike.
After a few well earned drinks in Ambleside favourites the Queen's and Royal Oak, we considered having an early supper in the town, but the food and atmosphere we'd already savoured at the Wild Boar courted us and drew us back to our home again for the evening. I could have just dined out on the side orders - and could you blame me, with choices including hog mac ‘n’ cheese; truffle mac ‘n’ cheese and sprouting broccoli with chilli anchovies. But I also had to sample the Wild Boar Burger with an 8oz beef burger, pulled pork, Monterey Jack cheese and triple-cooked chips.
Food is a huge deal at the Wild Boar and something I didn't get to sample, that will bring me back very soon, is the temptation of the alternative afternoon tea. Forget a delicate afternoon treat, and prepare yourself for pigs in blankets, sliders and mini fish and chips … oh, and sticky toffee cupcakes.
The grounds of the hotel, set among the Gilpin Valley, are amazing with its own private woodland for nature walks, clay pigeon shooting or archery. The private woodland and walking trails are well worth exploring - you can even do a few chin-ups on some open-air structures.
And I was fascinated to read on the hotel's website that the hotel takes its name from the local legend of Sir Richard de Gilpin who fought and killed a particularly ferocious wild boar.
We checked out early the next day for two reasons: one, to head to the lake again, which is the biggest of all the lakes in the Lake District and, two, to take advantage of free use of the sister hotel's amazing health club at nearby Low Wood Bay.
Now, this was a lovely end to our break and a warming sauna, dip in the pool and plunge in the whirlpool prepared us for the two-hour drive home after a truly splendid Lakes break.
The Wild Boar Inn is part of English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues, a group which also runs two other unique four star venues - the iconic art-deco Midland Hotel in Morecambe and the Lancaster House Hotel.
There are some great offers on the hotel's website worth checking out. For further information, visit http://englishlakes.co.uk/hotels/lake-district-hotels/windermere-hotels/wild-boar-inn/ or, for bookings, call 0333 2203 108. Also check out other guests' opinions on social media by following #thewildboar
The Wild Boar Facts The Wild Boar, Crook Road, Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 3NF Visit the The Wild Boar and the group website for more general information on the resort. Telephone bookings: 0333 2203 108/ General enquiries: 015394 45225 Rooms and Tariffs: from £121 per room per night, based on 2 adults sharing a twin / double room and inclusive of bed and full English breakfast Special Offers: available currently and if a specific offer is required please contact directly to discuss