Craig Salmon enjoys a two-day break at the Wild BoarInn and Smokehouse in the Lake District.
Deciding where to watch our England World Cup football heroes on television is always a dilemma which comes around every four years.
Whether it is plumping for the atmospheric surroundings of a pub, the relaxed environment of a friend’s house or the comfortable confines of your own four walls, it is always a decision which requires careful consideration.
However, for England’s do-or-die Group D encounter against Uruguay last week, my wife Samantha decreed there was only one place she was watching the action unfold... from the luxurious tin bath in our delightful hotel room at the Wild Boar Inn and Smokehouse.
Although the big match ultimately proved to be a tremendous disappointment, at least the 90 minutes of woe were more tolerable for Samantha as she was able to submerge herself deep within the bubbles of her hot bath.
England’s 2-1 defeat – and subsequent elimination from the competition – was certainly a blow to my patriotic self, but it did not put a dampener on mine and my wife’s two-night stay at the beautiful four-star establishment.
Situated in the small village of Crook – just a short car journey away from Lake Windermere – the Wild Boar is the perfect getaway for visitors who enjoy fine food and real ale in a traditional setting.
Deriving its name from the ferocious animal which local legend says roamed the forest between Windermere and Kendal during the reign of King John and was killed by the legendary Sir Richard de Gilpin, the hotel boasts a number of unique trappings.
With an on-site micro-brewery, which opened last year –the inn can offer its guests the choice of several exclusive self-brewed beers at its bar.
Being a fan of real ale, I took full advantage and indulged in several pints of the stuff – my favourite being the ‘Mad Pig’ and ‘Hog’s Head 54’. The ale certainly went down a treat with the Wild Boar’s home-made pork crackling.
The hotel’s assistant general manager Adam was kind enough to give us a personal tour of the brewhouse on our second day, where we saw first hand the fermentation and brewing process.
Adam also took us outside to the inn’s purpose-built smokehouse, which the chefs use to smoke the various meats, fish and cheeses which they serve on the dinner menu.
We were surprised to discover that the inn smokes its food using – amongst other things – a converted barbecue and an old filing cabinet!
Opening the door to the main wooden smokehouse, Adam tipped his nose skywards as he turned to us and said, ‘Don’t you just love that smell?’.
Interestingly, the inn holds regular courses throughout the year where visitors can try their hand at smoking food.
It seemed fitting for our evening meal that Samantha and I decided to sample some of the smokey treats on the menu.
For starters I decided to go for the deli board, which arrived on a thick bread boardcontained ham, salmon, cheese and chicken – all freshly smoked.
It was accompanied by a caper and red onion salasa, coleslaw, withbread and butter.
To begin with, Samantha plumped for the smoked ham Scotch egg, which she assured me was extremely tasty.
For our main course, I chose the braised shank of lamb with boulangere potatoes, savoy cabbage and bacon, while Samantha decided uon the handmade 8oz beef burger with smo0ked cheese, onion ring and bacon.
The highlight for me however was dessert Being a bit of sweet tooth on the quiet, I absolutely adored the apple, raisin and coconut crumble which came with both ice cream and custard.
Breakfast didn’t disappoint neither as I tucked into a hearty full English each morning, while the wife particulary enjoyed the eggs florentine.
The inn is situated right in the middle of the Lake District countryside and being a dog friendly establishment, it is perfect for visitors who take their pets on holiday with them. We decided to explore the Lakes during the day and visited the nearby towns of Kendal and Keswick, and also stopped off for afternoon tea at the picturesque village of Grasmere.