The UK Roadtrip North – The Lakes District & Holbeck Ghyll

10.07am, Thursday 7th October, The Clocktower, Yalumba, Angaston, Eden Valley, The Barossa, South Australia
On another clear-as-a-bell spring day out there in the Barossa, it’s time to catch up all that neat stuff we did on our UK Roadtrip North after leaving Portsmouth. I’m going to put the individual jobs up as separate posts, and I hope you like reading it as much as we enjoyed doing it.

We started our day – Wednesday, 22nd September – in the historic naval town of Portsmouth, then worked our way north of London and onto the M6 Motorway. Up we went, through Warwickshire (‘Welcome to Shakespeare Country’); through The Midlands; past Coventry, the city famous for making those ever-present London icons – the black cabs; and through the industrial outskirts of Birmingham. As we pushed further north, the weather dropped lower. It got progressively colder, greyer, and wetter – and my theory about this part of England being ‘The Grim North’ was proved yet again. Don’t get me wrong though, I love it up there. It’s wet, it’s cold, and this western side of the country is so jolly green and lush – with mile after mile of stacked stone wall marking the outer boundary lines of farms as well as the inner paddock divides.

We dropped off the motorway and it was ‘Welcome to Cumbria’ – the northwest kidney-shaped county that’s tucked underneath Scotland, pokes out into the Irish Sea, and is bordered on the east side by – from south to north: Lancashire (more on that later as the home of Fisherman’s Retreat), Yorkshire, County Durham, and Northumberland (more on that later too, as the home of The Castle pub in Bamburgh). Everything there is solid stone and local slate, and we were surrounded by proper high dales and rolling peaks. In no time at all, we were through the town of Windermere and on our way to Ambleside – staying right on the shore of Lake Windermemre.

PS That’s why this central section of Cumbria is called The Lakes District – Lake Windermere to the east and Coniston Water to the west. What we could see of the lake and its surrounds through the rain, mist, and low cloud looked tops – but we didn’t have any time to play tourist. It was a matter of checking in, getting changed, and then winding our way up into the hills to find our venue for the evening’s trade dinner – the country house hotel Holbeck Ghyll.


What a classic place – somewhere that would not go astray in one of those BBC period dramas. More ivy-covered stone and slate, manicured gardens, a Michelin star restaurant – and a group of local Cumbrian trade arriving for dinner. We had Holbeck Ghyll’s new general manager – Andrew – hosting the evening for us, and were looked after in one of the dining rooms by the lovely Daniel – who already has a long association with Yalumba. He had us on the list at another Lakes District stalwart – the Samling Hotel – so this made it very easy to work out the food and wine pairings for the dinner. That’s Daniel in the photo with the breads just out of the oven basket that started us off. This was our first introduction to most of the folks along, so we chose to showcase our Viognier and Cabernet Shiraz blend worlds on this occasion. The highlights were:

The lamb at Holbeck Ghyll

The main course of “Best End of Cumbrian Lamb in Herb Crust with Shallot Puree”, which we put with the ascending-palate-weight treble of Cabernet Shiraz – 2008 Scribbler, 2005 Signature and 2001 The Reserve. Here’s where the Cabernet-dominant blends come to town with really good lamb, and great sauces. Tailor-made to go together!

Holbeck Ghyll dessert

The other star was the “Creme Brulee with Apple Sorbet & Cider Sauce” with the 2007 Botrytis Viognier – all citrus apricot and honey. Even the dried apple slice garnish slid in for good measure tasted great.

It was very easy to get used to the running hot & cold excellent service at Holbeck Ghyll – it stands out – and it’s easy to report that a lovely evening was had by all. We’re also really looking forward to doing some long term Yalumba things from here on in at this very stately address with Andrew and Daniel – thanks gentlemen – and the one thing that I can absolutely guarantee is that 17 hours in The Lakes District on my first visit is not long enough!! I already have a short list of things I want to do on my next trip:

  1. Check out Lake Windermere for the mythical monster or the 4 foot long pike!
  2. Get back to Holbeck Gyhll for the full tour of the grounds … in daylight!
  3. Get in to The Drunken Duck pub at Ambleside – I have it on good authority that it’s got to be done!

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