Is there much more satisfying in life then a day spent on a hot, stompy walk through some of England’s finest countryside followed by a slab of loaf cake with a cup of tea, a long soak in a luxurious bath, a good G&T, and a great night’s sleep? Nope, I really don’t think there is. Especially if the walk takes in Ingleton waterfalls and the Yorkshire Dales; and the cake, bath, gin and sleep are being provided by Hipping Hall Hotel.
Hipping Hall sits in a curious venn diagram of British beauty. Officially it is in Cumbria. But turn one way and you’ll be in Yorkshire in no time at all. Turn another and oh, hullo, there’s Lancashire. It is even right on the edge of the Lake District. Yet with all that on its doorstep I think Hipping Hall’s best asset location-wise is being just a 10 minute or so drive from Yorkshire’s Ingleton. In this small, quite ordinary village you will find the extraordinary Ingleton Waterfall Trail. Rather unusually for the British countryside you have to pay to walk it but don’t let that put you off. Once you are on the trail you will soon see how that money has been put to use in making potentially dangerous / tricky aspects of the waterfall walk safe / easy. Or easier, anyway. Certainly hard enough to make you feel you have earned that cake later on.
The full 3-4 hour circuit makes you climb and climb and wonder why you didn’t turn back at the last big waterfall as many people do. Then as you reach the top you will turn around and see the expansive beauty of the Yorkshire Dales stretching out all around and be so glad you made it this far. This part of the walk is to my mind the best section of the Ingleton Trail Sure the waterfalls are exciting. But up there the fells seem to go on forever – and part way through walking them is the dinkiest wood-hut café selling terrific ice-cream.
By the time you get back to the Ingleton car park you will be sweaty and hungry. The friendly staff back at Hipping Hall know just how to take care of such cases amongst their guests. First of all they will settle you down in the pretty garden or maybe one of their luxurious lounges with a nice cuppa and a piece of cake. I hope that when you go it is the lemon drizzle. Smashingly sweet, zesty and moist.
The tea and the cake will set you on the right path to feeling fully able to bask in the rigours of the day. Next step is a bath. Hipping Hall’s pride of which is in their gorgeous suite with a square footage that compares favourably to many a London flat. Its bathroom is a space to take your time enjoying. Double walk-in shower. Wooden rafters. Great light. Deep, free-standing bath to lie-back in. Heck, there’s even a sofa in the bathroom so that your love you can sit and chat to you as you soak. Which personally I might find quite annoying but feel sure others would love and so how marvellous to have the option.
Resuscitation is complete with a big G&T made with local (Cumbrian) Bedrock gin. Much kudos to the folks at Hipping Hall for not just tapping into the fashion for distinctive gins but finding one from their own region.
The use of local produce continues in the hotel’s restaurant. Chef Oli Martin’s dishes show an ambition and modernity befitting an up and coming twenty-something. The ingredients used may be traditional but what Oli does with them is not. His menu includes dishes such as ‘hand-dived scallops, turnip ketchup, tarragon’ to start; ‘lemon sole, grapes, charred seaweed, ramson capers’; and to finish ‘malted coffee, pear, chicory jam, honey’ which was a stand-out choice for me. I highly recommend going for the suggested wines with each course The Hipping Hall sommelier certainly knows their stuff.
Thus wined, dined, ginned, bathed, caked and walked the sumptuous beds at Hipping Hall (not too hard, not too soft, just right as Goldilocks might have said) await to ensure you sleep the sleep of the virtuous. I bet you’ll wake up fully fresh and rested – and ready to do the whole thing again?
For more information about Hipping Hall and its restaurant, including details of offers and events, visit www.hippinghall.com.