Storming barn for a luxurious escape
Mr C came up trumps recently. He’d been at a loose end, entered a handful of ‘tick here’ competitions online and … well, the old fella only went and won a stonking prize. Two nights for up to 8 people in a converted barn – and our breakfast cooked for us in the mornings by a chef who would miraculously appear and then clean up before she left. Marvellous.
If you’re looking for somewhere utterly gorgeous for a break up north – and it is a fair old trek from this neck of the woods – then I would, we all would, absolutely recommend The Threshing Barn in Stockdalewath, just south of Carlisle in Cumbria.
It’s a converted barn which has been fitted out incredibly beautifully. It’s been going 3 years already, but it is absolutely spotless, with fabulous attention to detail – and the comfiest beds you’ve ever slept in. And even though it’s all very luxurious, I wasn’t worried with our two little darlings (well, one’s not so little) making themselves at home. (And there’s a stair gate they’ll fit for you if your little ones are smaller than ours.) It felt solid and welcoming as well as being a total treat.
There are four bedrooms, each with their own bathroom – and the names reflect what the spaces were originally used for. The kids slept in The Grain Store, while Mr C and I made ourselves more than comfy in The Pig Sty (no sniggering, please). Our friends who joined us there were in The Tool Room – and, upstairs, in a room with an absolutely stunning bath, called The Engine Room. So stunning was the bath that our nearly-teen actually begged to have a bath as soon as we go there. Seriously.
Upstairs, there’s a huge living – well, lounging – space, with a fab open kitchen (not that I cooked anything) and a TV space tucked around the corner with great big sofas to slob out on. And slob we did….
The Threshing Barn is set in 20 acres of Cumbrian countryside, and the hens were happily pecking around the yard – and the barn faced the stables with 3 very lovely horses to say hello to. We went for a bit of a walk one afternoon, following the river down into the valley a bit and then up through the fields. And it was glorious. Bit drizzly, but so beautiful.
You can book the Threshing Barn as self-catering – there are three ovens set into the wall, and a very slinky induction hob – but there are packages with breakfast, or supper, or breakfast and supper, or (if you’re really pushing the boat out) B&B plus fine dining with a personal chef. As it was, we had a chef and a host – the super-friendly Yvonne and Misha – coming in to cook up our breakfasts and they were so filling and delicious that we barely ate the rest of the day. Well, until we got the nibbles out and cracked open the wine in the evenings, that is.
The food was amazing, and it’s sourced, as much as possible, locally – the porridge oats, the granola, the honey, the bacon, the sausages, and so on. And the eggs come from the hens that are right there on the farm. Not sure the pineapple was grown in Cumbria, but hey, stranger things have happened.
And there’s a lot going on in the area. Stockdalewath (my lame Home-Counties-style attempts to pronounce it caused much hilarity) is tiny, true, but it’s a hop skip and a jump to Carlisle, Penrith and all sorts of bits of the Lakes are within easy reach – and if you keep going north there’s Hadrian’s Wall and all sorts of Scottishness.
Why you’d want to leave the place, though, I really don’t know. And Beech House Holidays, who own the barn, offer so many different packages — a ‘Mini-Moon’ romantic break with a champagne breakfast in bed and fully-catered romantic supper, a wellness retreat with a personal trainer and your meals healthy as well as cooked for you — and we really got the sense that we just had to ask Anna and Mark, the owners, and they could sort out just about anything. We were there at Halloween, and they provided us with pumpkin carving tools — and all the details are that carefully attended to. Love it.
It’s not gone unnoticed, though. It made the Sunday Times ‘Ultimate 100 Holidays’ list last year, and has a a Gold CBEN accreditation for being committed to being green. And it’s now on my list of places I didn’t want to leave…
So, when are we going back Mr C? Sooner rather than later, I hope. I’m not quite done relaxing yet….