A rural oasis at the heart of the magical Lakes.
I only became what you could term a regular visitor to the Lake District very recently - within the last year, in fact.
But, as so many others before me have found, the allure of Bowness, Ambleside, Grizedale and beyond is just impossible to ignore.
After a taste of Grasmere shortbread, you're hooked - it's a case of when, not if, you will return.
Why would anybody care about the rain when Windermere looks how it does? And especially when you can be halfway down a sodden hill one minute, and stuffing your face at a top-notch restaurant or pub the next? Idyllic.
It was the offer of a stay at the highly regarded Brown Horse at Winster that heralded this most recent trip.
The Brown Horse is tucked away at Winster, less than ten minutes' drive from Bowness-on-Windermere. It's a fantastic old place, all beams and log fires, with a certain equine theme running throughout...
The room was warm and comfortable, with everything you need after a day exploring the Lakes.
I expected nothing less, given the pedigree of the Brown Horse. And, having arrived earlier in the day and spent a spring afternoon running along the western shore of Windermere, it was goings-on in the kitchen we was more interested in.
The menu was extensive and luxurious; bolstered by a range of specials you could mix into the main menu.
The dining area was buzzing when we arrived, with families and couples aplenty enjoying the atmosphere and, notably, the warmth of the inside of the bar as the weather turned a little sour on the other side of the windows.
Adorned with all manner of racing memorabilia as well as maps and paintings of the surrounding landscape, the surroundings were charming, and the waiting staff polite and eager to please.
I tried a couple of ales from the inn's Winster Valley micro-brewery, perfect liquid nourishment, and the pub part of the Brown Horse keeps its end of the bargain, offering wines and gins to suit all tastes.
A review we read before heading to the Brown Horse suggested that the food was, to paraphrase, more bar supper than fine dining, but perhaps the management has changed since then, as this wasn't like any bar supper I've had before.
The oak smoked salmon starter was a surprise; instantly letting us know that the Brown Horse was keen to please foodies as well as those after a hearty fish supper.
The prices are reasonable for what is excellent fare, and the main courses were generous.I particularly enjoyed my haggis balls, which accompanied corn-fed chicken with truffled potato puree.
What we had
Starters: Fish cakes - Thai salmon, crab and sweetcorn, smoked haddock and leek, avocado puree.
Pressing of oak smoked Cartmel Valley salmon and fromage blanc with celeriac and mustard, compressed cucumber, apple and vanilla.
Mains: Lakes Blonde Beer battered haddock, chips, pea puree and tartare sauce.
Free-range corn-fed chicken, truffled potato puree, young leeks and wild mushrooms, Lancashire haggis.
There are, of course, a wide range of dessert options available.
Our time at the Brown Horse was short, but long enough to leave a lasting impression.
After enjoying a quick breakfast - excellent, and all the better for being made with entirely local produce - we left refreshed and pleased we had sampled the hospitality of this Lake District oasis.
The Brown Horse Inn
The Brown Horse Inn also offers both residents and non-residents the opportunity to relax in their public bar and enjoy an old-world atmosphere of oak beams and log fires.
Lunch is served between 12pm and 2pm, and dinner is served from 6pm until 9pm.
The Brown Horse Inn specialises in traditional and continental dishes using fresh produce from the inn’s own grounds, as much as possible, such as pork, eggs and some of the vegetables.
Anything that is not taken directly from their own land is sourced locally.
Dinner can be enjoyed with a pint of local ale, a choice of wine from their extensive cellar or their very own Willow Water.
Alternatively, sample one of the award-winning beers from their Winster Valley micro-brewery."
Phone: 015394 43443