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Review: Why Foodies Won't Want to Miss Linthwaite House in the Lakes

Linthwaite House
June 2024
Reading time 3 Minutes

We head to the Lakes to check into Linthwaite House, and dine at their seasonally-minded restaurant Henrock from Simon Rogan

Having cut across the top of the fells from Kendal to get here, the only water we've seen on this journey so far has been flooded stretches of road following what feels like 7,000 days of rain. It's therefore a pleasure to arrive at Linthwaite House early on a spring evening and be greeted by golden sunshine which sparkles on the surface of Windermere, laid out far below us like a postcard.

Linthwaite House stands on a hilltop above Windermere and the town of Bowness, set in acres of gardens and woodland grounds. We’re greeted in the gravelled car park and (having plugged the car into a handy charging point) we’re promptly checked in and shown to our room. It’s a large space with vast bed and a spacious ensuite, and windows down one side of the room have views over the neat lawns and woodland beyond. 

We don’t hang about though – we’ve got reservations at the hotel’s restaurant, Henrock, for dinner. Starting with an aperitif in the bar, we choose a seat on a low sofa facing the windows, through which is framed that postcard-perfect view over Windermere. The hills on the far shore of the lake are starting to darken as the sun sets, but we’re soon shown through to the restaurant and settled into a table by the window. 

Henrock is under the umbrella of Simon Rogan (he of L’Enclume fame) and new head chef Mark McCabe serves a three-course menu inspired by flavours and techniques from around the world, while working with local, seasonal ingredients and produce from Simon’s own farm in the Cartmel Valley. Before our starters arrive, we’re presented with two snacks – the first in the form of a delicious little tart with ratte potato and Scottish salmon mousse, topped with a kelp powder. Our second snack is a creamy miso custard, runner beans, pickled tomato and wasabi. These are flavours I’ve never seen combined before and the effect is brilliant. It’s served in a delicate porcelain eggshell which almost looks too fine to handle. After that, a soft and shiny Parker House roll is served with two different butters (one cultured, the other with seaweed), and, having finished our drinks from the bar, we choose a bottle of crisp Austrian white wine. 

After all this, we’ve only just reached the starters – I’ve ordered marinated bavette of Cornish beef with chimichurri. The beef is wonderfully flavoured and it’s served with an avocado and chickpea cracker which adds welcome crunch. My partner, meanwhile, has never once failed to order lamb when it’s on the menu, and continues this run of form here – his Moroccan spiced Herdwick lamb belly comes with kale and lovage, topped with dots of refreshing cucamelon jam, and served with a dollop of deeply-flavoured, beetrooty ketchup. 

To follow, he’s chosen a Parmesan crusted loin of cod with wilted New Zealand spinach, a stuffed chicken wing, chorizo and ramson. My main course of Gaythorne Hall Farm Cumbrian Peking duck breast is served with gem lettuce in hoisin and hen of the woods. Our waiter then spoons a dark, glossy sauce made with duck heart over the dish, assuring me that this is ‘the greatest sauce known to man’. I have, as yet, no reason to disagree with him. 

Our pre-dessert (another surprise) is a pretty little concoction of beeswax and honey cream with pear sorbet and granola. It’s sufficiently sweet that I don’t feel like I’m missing out by ordering cheese instead of a dessert. While my partner enjoys Pink Champagne rhubarb with hazelnut, cheesecake ice cream and shisho, I choose three cheeses from the impressive trolley, which is wheeled over to us before we’re talked through the options. I can’t resist a soft cheese which has been stuffed with wild garlic, and it’s all served with homemade crackers, chutney, honey and butter. 

Henrock, of course, doesn’t hold a Michelin star (or three) like L’Enclume, and the menu features global influences which you might not find on the menu there. Yet those who have visited another of Simon Rogan’s restaurants will find something familiar in the relaxed service, the innovative flavour combinations, and the deep passion for food that’s clearly shared by all the staff here. It’s a truly special place to eat, and sits perfectly at the heart of Linthwaite House. 

The following day dawns grey and wet. Not to be put off, we don our waterproofs and set out to tick off a Wainwright. Parking in Troutbeck we make our way up (eventually) to the top of Baystones. It’s not a huge climb (we’re at the summit in not long over an hour) but there’s something a little dispiriting about a climb where clouds completely obscure any progress you’re making. Any sense of satisfaction when we finally reach the summit is quickly blown away by a biting wind, which sees us scramble down from the top sharpish. A blowy walk along an undulating ridge takes us to the top of Wansfell Pike (sadly not a Wainwright, and therefore pointless). From here it’s downhill all the way back to the valley bottom, where we climb into the car and decide, in the circumstances, that we’re done with walking for the day. 

Lunch in Bowness seems like a better plan – and half an hour later we’re tucked into a bar right on the edge of the lake, with a well-deserved drink each and a spicy nduja pizza to share. The weather seems to have driven a lot of people indoors and the bar is busy with walkers, families and groups of friends, all enjoying the atmosphere and keeping out of the rain.

(C) Cristian Barnett Photography

In the afternoon we take some time to explore our surroundings. The gardens at Linthwaite House seem to be made for long summer days – with boules, a giant chessboard, and a private tarn with two rowing boats which are available for guests to hire. Even on a rainy Saturday afternoon, we spend an hour exploring the paths and trails. At every turn the grounds are littered with art and sculptures, my favourite of which looks something like a giant white marble Polo, balanced on its edge on the lawn in front of the hotel. Along a gravel lane past the tarn, we glimpse the hotel’s fell suites, wood-clad buildings set in a secluded area of the grounds, some of which have private outdoor hot tubs. 

Early evening sees us hopping in a taxi, and less than 10 minutes later we’re deposited in the centre of Bowness, which is heaving with people heading out for drinks or dinner, or simply browsing the shops. On a stupendously narrow lane just off the main street we find Lago. 

This wine and cocktail bar is busy with a pre-dinner crowd and it’s a pleasantly relaxed spot, with the evening sun streaming through the large windows, but the cocktails are as good as any we’ve tried – I order an Aperol sour and couldn’t be happier. They also do sharing boards here, so you can order a selection of cheese and charcuterie to go with your drinks. Much as this is right up our street, we can’t resist heading back up to Linthwaite House in time for a nightcap.

After another peaceful night’s sleep, leaving the windows open to let in a cool breeze, we’re first down for breakfast on Sunday morning. With a cup of tea (for me) and a cappuccino (for him), we choose from continental options including fruit salad, melon, pastries, yoghurt, berries and cereals. My partner tucks into a Linthwaite full English, complete with black pudding and homemade baked beans (I normally think it’s not worth messing with beans, but these prove that it can be done very well on occasion). I meanwhile enjoy delicious honey baked ham with a fried egg and sourdough toast. It’s a wrench to check out so soon – especially with the sun shining and the gardens and hills beyond looking so lush and green following yesterday’s rain – so we make time for one last stroll around the grounds, and one last look at that view. 

Linthwaite House, Crook Road, Bowness-on-Windermere, Windermere LA23 3JA
015394 88600

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