Scafell Hotel

Date published: 18 Sep 18

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A Country House Hotel in the heart of Borrowdale

Wordsworth described the Lake District as a sort of national property in which every man has a right and an interest who has an eye to perceive and a heart to enjoy. Well, my heart determines to enjoy a short break in this amazing landscape. As a courting couple, we experienced the highest fells by day and a strictly segregated youth hostel by night. Forty-five years of marriage later we sensibly confine ourselves to lower slopes but have graduated to sharing a comfy bed.

Borrowdale Valley overlooking Rosthwaite and Scafell HotelThe Lake District received National Park designation in 1951 and the accolade of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017. This is a place of superlatives, boasting the largest and deepest lakes and highest peaks in England. Simply 885 square miles of heaven, loved by poets, artists, mountaineers and anyone seeking to ‘get away’. 

It deserves its own Silver Travel ‘Lakes’ Series but today my focus is Borrowdale in the North Lakes. As we head from the M6 a cap of mist hides the summits. After weeks of heatwave it’s raining but there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong sort of clothing, and Keswick can supply all those needs.

Skirting Keswick, we enter Borrowdale. A sign announces, “Badgers for ½ mile”, followed by a pejorative “Slow Down Red Squirrels”. Perhaps the badgers need to catch them? The roads are strictly no waiting, but the National Trust provides sympathetically sited woodland car parks at intervals along the Dale.

Scafell HotelFifteen minutes driving brings us to tranquil Rosthwaite and the Scafell, a Country House Hotel, solidly settled in the landscape alongside a burbling river.    

The ground floor is traditional - Axminster carpets and wooden settles. The elegant drawing room houses a substantial telescope, tempting stargazers to dark sky vigils. The front lounge offers a brighter, relaxed feel. The only noise is the soporific ticking of the grandfather clock.

The bedrooms are more contemporary. There are some kings but we have a double room. Storage is ample but the bed is squeezed into an alcove. No matter, we slept well. The bathroom is snug with a deep soaking bath and shower over. For the finest experience, book the Barnes Wallis suite named after a frequent visitor who designed a certain Bouncing Bomb.

Scafell Hotel comfy bedroomThere is one disabled access/wet room. The whole ground floor has ramped access but the building’s age precludes lift installation. Dogs are welcome everywhere, except in the dining room. Free WiFi in the public areas doesn’t quite reach the bedrooms.

The tourist information rack offers a range of activities for all abilities. Some suggestions:  Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake; a gentle walk to Watendlath Tarn for refreshments at Caffle Tea Room; drive via Ashness Bridge to Surprise View for stunning panorama towards Buttermere; circumnavigate Derwent Water on foot or a relaxing Lake Steamer.

Riverside BarSome guests are undertaking Wainwrights Coast to Coast Trail. Having dipped their frisky feet in the Irish Sea they aim to walk 190 miles in around 10 –14 days and dip their weary finishing feet in the North Sea at Robin Hood’s Bay. This is day 2 – most are still optimistically upbeat! The Riverside bar with beer from Keswick Brewing Company, choice of 60 whiskies and a hearty menu tempts them in. 

We dined in the restaurant amongst white linen, silver cutlery and personable service from Restaurant Manager, Fiona. One rosette is in evidence and chef is clearly aiming for number 2 with an innovative menu. Highlight for me, an amuse bouche of Morcilla (black pudding wrapped in pastry). Hubby loved his grapefruit sorbet but mackerel with charcoal mayonnaise was not for him.

Scafell Hotel fine diningEach course had some amazing notes, some teased the eye more than the tongue. My deconstructed chocolate and black cherry Mascarpone cheesecake delightfully teased both! 

Breakfast offers a generous buffet of cereals, fresh fruit, yoghurt, meat, pastries. A silver preserve stand provides an elegant touch for each table. Hot food is cooked to order arriving fresh and delicious. I am set up for my day on the fells and add my exemplary tick to their Visit England Breakfast Award.

As we head back to Keswick texts start to ping. Only then do we realise how much we have ‘got away’.

To find out more, and to book, go to 

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  • yorkshirecat
    almost 3 years ago
    What a superb piece of writing Jayne! It's certainly made me want to book my room at this hotel and return to Borrowdale asap.