B&B on a Lake District working farm: Deepdale Hall

We spent the first days of the new year at working hill farm B&B Deepdale Hall in the Lake District. As we approached under the first wisps of darkness, owner Chris Brown was quad biking through his field of sheep - an unusual group of Welsh Mountain Badger Faces.

The 17th-century farmhouse nestled between Ullswater and Brotherswater and beneath summits including Place Fell and High Street looked cosy with golden light streaming from the windows. High above, a perfectly circular moon shone brightly. Inside the farmhouse, photos of Prince Charles visiting were on display, while a creaky wooden stairwell led up to our room. The room was country farmhouse style at its best. Shades of russet, cream and pale yellow made a soothing backdrop for a quilted patchwork bedspread and intricate jacquard curtains. Meanwhile, dark pine furniture sat against a pleasingly high wrought iron bed frame.

Needless to say, we arose the following morning with reluctance, tempted downstairs only by the scent of sausages cooking in the Aga. The breakfast, which has won awards, was served in the lounge, a cosy spot with a wood-beamed ceiling, one deep claret wall, a roaring log fire and windows just big enough to reveal the mists sweeping over the fells. Tim and I exchanged a look: it would be a short walk today. That said, the delicious and hearty Cumbrian fare we gobbled at breakfast required a little more exertion than a stroll.

So we reluctantly set off into the idiosyncratic English drizzle, our bags filled with packed lunches from the B&B and including homemade mince pies. A muddy path through the fields led us towards Angle Tarn, and as we climbed higher it was as if we had the landscape to ourselves - a rare feeling in the Lake District. Angle Tarn looked sorry for itself in the mist, but we pushed on towards The Knott, seeing possible promise in the sky. Was it clearing? "Once we're at The Knott, it's not far to High Street," Tim urged.

He's always doing this - pushing me on a bit further and a bit further still until it makes the best sense to continue even higher! But he was absolutely right on this occasion. Once on The Knott, we were looking up at a rapidly clearing sky. That poetic light that I think exists only in The Lakes was gilding the fells in the distance. The climb to High Street's summit at around 2,700 feet above sea level wasn't difficult - those crazy Romans only built a road up there!

Ground underfoot was frosty higher up, and the windchill bitter. We could hear a dog barking on the opposite side of the valley, and see Lowry-esque figures making their way along the shoulder. Views stretched to Helvellyn and Fairfield, both dusted in snow. In short, heaven. We admired the view until the cold got the better of us, and then descended through boggy moorland to Hartsop, a hamlet of stone cottages that looks as if from a different time. From there, it was a winding track back to the B&B.

Both of us were desperate for showers, which I mention because the toiletries provided by the B&B deserve mentioning. Created by Pure Lakes, our lavender and chamomile shower gel smelt and felt divine. The company make natural toiletries using mostly organic ingredients. They use gentle alternatives to detergents and beautiful essential oils, but keep costs affordable by minimising packaging and not wasting money on expensive marketing and labelling. Lovely concept and beautiful products. So we went to dinner smelling nice!

That evening we tried out The Old Water View and were glad we did. Service was conscientious and dishes, fresh and tasty. I had haddock caught the previous day and served in a creamy parsley sauce. Pudding was delightful too, but may I put out a health warning? It was HUGE! Tim and I ordered Hot Sticky Toffee Pudding served with Butterscotch Sauce in a portion for two. Our eyes nearly popped out of our heads (Tim's in excitement, mine in despair) when it appeared and was the size of a whole loaf cake! It was scrumptious, but so gluttonous.

Later in the bar, the couple who had been sitting next to us commented on it. "Ems ate most of it," joked Tim helpfully. "I don't know where she puts it all!" The chap had the cheek to say: "You'll find out in ten years!" Our return to the B&B was complicated by the sheep, who were sitting over the quarter-mile track to the farm keeping warm. Their cute faces with black smudges above the eyes looked at us nonplussed. We could be in it for the long haul - but we weren't exactly in a hurry to leave the next day ...
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