Here’s two ladies of the Manor

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Anyone who loves the Lakes will definitely fall in love with Ravenstone Manor at Bassenthwaite.

Ravenstone Manor has a charm and personality all of its own.

When we visited we found Ravenstone Manor to be an oasis of calm as it is several miles away from the touristy hustle and bustle of places like Windermere and Ambleside.

Located near the foot of the imposing fells of Skiddaw and Cat Bells and close to the banks of the lake at Bassenthwaite, Ravenstone Manor is in a perfect location to soak up the grandeur of the northern lakes. The journey from the M6 near Penrith was out of this world and the scenery just got better and better on the approach to Bassenthwaite. It was brooding, breath-taking and bewitching.

Owners Cherin and Kim Marmon-Saxe and Tina and Adam Saxe couldn’t have been more accommodating and it was a pleasure to sit and chat with them.

“People can find the true countryside here,” said Kim. “The path up Skiddaw starts right behind us so lots of people come here to walk it. We have our own spring water with its source up on Skiddaw.”

Like the people who run it, Ravenstone Manor is warm and welcoming.

“It’s our home and we want our guests to feel as if it is a home for them too,” explained Kim. “Customer service is a big part of what we do.”

The four have just celebrated their first year of running Ravenstone Manor and their passion for the place is evident: “From the minute we arrived we loved the feel of the building,” said Cherin “It has such a rich history.”

I discovered that one of the things that makes Ravenstone Manor special is the fact that Adam, Tina, Cherin and Kim cater for people with special dietary requirements.

“We are trying to promote specific menus such as gluten free for people with coeliac disease,” said Kim. “This is part of what we do and why we are different. There is absolutely no cross contamination. Many people come here for this reason. Our staff are comfortable with it and our chef is open to it. We do it all properly or some people could become ill.

“We like to think we can cope with any dietary requirements as long as people ring here first, then we can take the time to talk it through.”

Cherin added: “One woman who brought her daughter here cried because it was the first time they had been away together in 20 years where her daughter could eat in comfort.”

It was touching to hear such a remarkable tale and it showed just how committed the four are to looking after their customers. The meal I had at Ravenstone was a joy. After canapes and a glass of wine in the lounge bar, I had a delicious lobster bisque to start, mouth-watering salmon with sauteed potatoes and fresh vegetables as the main and a tasty slice of apple tart and custard for the sweet. I have never received such attentive and friendly service in a restaurant. They got it just right. Superb.

“We have just done our first wedding – the first here for 15 years,” said Tina. “It was informal and we had the grounds decorated. It was wonderful to see the house being used as a home.”

Ravenstone is particularly popular with walking groups, single people, couples and families.

The building also has an interesting history. The manor was built in 1769 by the Second Earl of Penrith as the dower house for Lady Charlotte Howard of Greystoke Castle (where the Tarzan story originated). At one time the family was the biggest land owner in the parish and the grounds reached all the way to the lake. Today Ravenstone has three hectares of land to the rear of the building which guests can explore. I asked about the origin of the name but there is no record of the history of the name Ravenstone. The owners are actively researching its past.

However, I will say that we spotted rather a lot of ravens on our visit!

From our lovely twin room we had a stunning view of the valley and glimpses of the lake. The room itself was scrupulously clean and full of character. It was cosy and we enjoyed an excellent night’s sleep.

I adored the interior of the building with its dark wood panelling, eclectic decor, huge picture windows and endless nooks and crannies. A real slice of history. During our stay we visited atmospheric St Begas Church where many former residents of Ravenstone Manor are buried below elaborate headstones. The church is in a delightful location next to the lake and is well worth a visit if you go to Bassenthwaite.

Keswick is about four miles away and Penrith and Carlisle are both about 16 miles from Ravenstone Manor. The hotel offers lots of scope for relaxation including board games in the lounge, a bar area, a vast snooker room and grounds to explore. Adam said that generations of families return every year to stay at Ravenstone.

They say it’s like coming home.

I couldn’t agree more!

My colleague and friend Michelle said: “It’s the little things that matter in life – and at the Ravenstone Manor, the small touches add up to a great big experience.

“The hotel is full of character and charm and includes a superb wooden fireplace in the lounge, a quirky bar with a real fire, wooden panelling and comfortable furniture.

“Our American hosts could not do enough for us and were most obliging. Before dinner, we relaxed in the bar with delicious canapes to whet our appetite. I was fascinated with the Wizard of Oz chess set, a really quirky item. For dinner, I had melon with ginger and pomegranate cubes and a creme de menthe sauce – it was the best starter I’ve ever had.

“For main I had pan fried pheasant breast with buttered swede and an orange and maple sauce.

“The pheasant was succulent and tasty and the sauce complemented it perfectly. There were also fondant potatoes, yellow beetroot and courgette with tomato as accompaniments. Dessert was sticky toffee pudding with a toffee sauce and ice cream. The pudding was moist, light and delicious, very moreish.

“Following dinner, we retired to the lounge to enjoy Lakeland coffee with home made truffles and fudge.

“These little touches really added up to a fantastic experience.

The next morning, still feeling full from our fantastic dinner, we went down for breakfast. I had the full English and my friend opted for the vegetarian version. Everything was freshly cooked and again, the little touches like tiny white bowls with butter, jam and marmalade were all there.

I was incredibly impressed with the service at Ravenstone Manor, nothing was too much trouble for the owners or the staff and we were really well looked after. I felt very sad to leave the hotel as it had been such a wonderful, relaxing and uplifting experience staying there.

“I’ve already recommended Ravenstone Manor to my parents to visit as it was such a lovely place.”