Cow Brow, Carnforth
We’ve been in Manchester for a joyful occasion – my daughter’s wedding, thanks for asking – and we’re all too aware that, after our enthusiastic celebrations of the previous night, we’ll be somewhat delicate and in poor shape for the long drive back to Edinburgh. So it seems eminently sensible to break up the journey with a relaxing stopover somewhere in the Lake District. We put out an enquiry on the Elis James and John Robins Podcast Devotee Facebook group and The Plough, just an hour’s drive out of Media City, is heartily recommended to us.
Which is why, the following morning, we find ourselves heading off the M6 in search of the place.
It’s ridiculously easy to find and turns out to be a charmingly rustic establishment, nestled invitingly amidst the greenery. Our suite – The Torsin – turns out to be positively palatial with a bathroom big enough to house the entire room where we’ve spent the previous night (The Holiday Inn, Salford Quays, whose idea of luxury is a couple of sachets of Nescafe and an ironing board). At The Plough, there’s a proper espresso machine, and the massive bathroom contains a shower, a freestanding bath and a pair of wash basins. There are cotton bathrobes, comfortable sofas and a level of design that both pleases the eye and offers supreme comfort. (Maybe I’m not mad about the dining table mounted on a bronze horse’s head, but it really is my only niggle.) What’s more, here, a fabulous breakfast is included in the price, whereas, at the Holiday Inn, mediocrity is an extra eleven pounds a head. There are even some delightful country walks beginning just a few steps from The Plough’s front door. I’m already regretting that we didn’t book in for longer.
Ah, but what of the food?
There’s many a charming location that’s let down by the standards of its cuisine – but not so here. After a couple of bracing aperitifs in the beer garden, we wander into the dining room and order our evening meals. We both go for fishy starters. There’s a splendid prawn salad served on crunchy toasted sourdough and a crab, avocado and tomato creation that’s zesty and mouthwatering. It’s a promising start.
It’s a Sunday, so we’re in the mood for a roast dinner and we both opt for the lamb. I have a few misgivings about missing out on the huge Yorkshire puddings I spot on somebody else’s table, but it turns out that they aren’t reserved just for the beefeaters in the room. The lamb is suitably succulent, the selection of vegetables nicely al dente and there’s even an accompanying bowl of cauliflower cheese. The portions, though generous, are just enough to allow me to finish everything on the plate.
We take a wee break and share a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and then, purely because we feel no place can be properly judged unless a pudding is sampled, we eventually order a sharing fondue, with doughnuts, a selection of fruits, some marshmallows and a delectable chocolate dipping sauce. We make short work of it and it provides a satisfying ending to an enjoyable meal.
So, those in need of a luxurious break in the Lake District, should look no further than The Plough. I really can’t recommend it highly enough.