If you haven’t been to the Lake District in Cumbria (the North of England) I would absolutely recommend you to see it! I see so many Londoners that never actually venture very far north and if you aren’t from the UK and visiting for the first time, definitely add a ‘Lake District Holiday’ to your list. I actually used to live in the Lake District, not far from Penrith for nearly a year before I moved to London. It was a beautiful part of the UK and it’s definitely a world away from London so if you are looking to travel within the UK and looking for a Cumbria holiday then I hope you read this post about my visit to charming Grasmere and The Forest Side.
The Forest Side is set in a divine setting in the Lake District, near Rydel Water with a clear view of the fells all around. When you enter the grounds of The Forest Side it feels very magical with a big winding driveway lined with towering trees that leads to a fairytale gothic mansion made in a typical Lake District style with slate and stone.
Our room was stunning with a lot of natural light streaming through the room and a balcony that overlooked the beautiful Lake District scenery and the fells. Each of the rooms is named after the types of trees in the garden which is a lovely unique touch. The beds are honestly so comfortable, to sink into them is like a dream. I also loved to learn that even the carpets are made by Wools of Cumbria using wool from local Herdwick sheep.
You can also have a drink or tea/coffee in The Lounge and relax in front of a log fire in the original Victorian fireplace. There’s something so soothing about a fireplace actually. And if it’s raining, bring a book and enjoy the pace of a slow afternoon.
If you are looking for things to do in Grasmere and venture there on a Lake District holiday, there are so many walks that you can do around the hotel so if you want to get into the Great Outdoors you certainly can. The small village of Grasmere with its associations to Wordsworth the poet, is only a 15-minute walk away and I do recommend having a walk around and stopping to get some of the famous Grasmere Gingerbread, created by Sarah Nelson back in 1854.
Everything in the Lake District feels so GREEN as well, it’s like an emerald green carpet of grass everywhere. The weather can change suddenly (it rained, snowed and had sunshine within 2 hours we noted) so bring appropriate footwear and if you forget your umbrella the hotel has one you can borrow.
The town of Grasmere is so cute as well so it’s definitely worth stopping by for some lunch or high tea (and don’t forget the gingerbread too). Sarah Nelson’s is the place to go for gingerbread and you can literally smell it from the street. There might be a small queue but it’s worth a small wait! We actually walked to Grasmere Water which was beautiful as well.
After all that walking, we worked up an appetite so it was time to enjoy the Grand Un’ Michelin-star tasting course at The Forest Side that evening – the cherry on our Lake District holiday. Each of the courses is paired with wines to match with an expert sommelier on hand to guide you through the tastings. I would say this is well worth the money you would spend on the dinner. It’s a whole experience and the dinner lasts for about four hours (essentially, it’s up to you – depends on how fast you eat). Which is great because you have a little time to digest between each tasting and sample more wine!
You can choose from a 6 course La’l ‘Un or 10 course Grand ‘Un tasting menus. And the menu’s inspiration? Cumbria itself. The menu is based around seasonality and also on locality. 90% of the ingredients at The Forest Side are sourced within 10 miles from the restaurant which is very impressive.
We went for the 10 course Grand ‘Un tasting menu which was outstanding and if you are looking for a foodie getaway in the UK definitely consider The Forest Side because the tastes and flavours will blow your mind and tastebuds (in a good way).
We started the Grand ’Un with ‘snacks’ which are pre-course starters. Of course, they are delicious and meant to kick off the taste buds. Once the snacks were finished, we started our first course which was cured halibut with sea salt and pickled radishes which was flavoured with turnip and dill. I love seafood so anything from the sea I will give a thumbs up to and this was truly a superb way to start the meal.
This was followed by the most delicious homemade bread with homemade pumpkin seed butter – again sometimes the simple things blow your mind.
Course two was ‘Our Carrot Salad’ which was a gorgeous fresh heritage carrot salad from the restaurant’s own garden topped with cheese from Cartmel. We loved the wine pairing with this which was a fermented wine from Trevibban Mill called Pet Nat.
Course three arrived soon after which was a BBQ Lobster Kohlrabi which was probably my favourite dish of the course, soaked in a delicious lobster sauce.
Another favourite of the evening came with course four which was a beef tartare with aged beef, topped with parsley oil and caviar. What a taste explosion this was. I’m not a huge meat eater but absolutely love beef tartare and see it as a real treat.
Course five was a Crapaudine beetroot house ricotta with forced shoots, a bit of a palette cleanser between the meat and seafood dishes.
Course six was another gorgeous seafood dish with Turbot fish topped with mussels and shallots, soaked in a whey consommé. Absolutely delicious. Again, anything with seafood floats my boat.
Course seven was a rare delicacy which was venison from Cartmel with truffle salad and mushrooms foraged from the local area. As I said there’s a huge emphasis on locally-grown and I can really appreciate the effort in the dishes that were presented.
Course eight was a variation of the famous Waldorf salad with apples, walnuts and celery which was sweet, crunchy and very satisfying, leading us up to the dessert menu.
As I said there’s always room for dessert so course nine was Rhubarb from Yorkshire that had been poached in its own juices, with biscuits on the top and a side of rhubarb ice cream. NOT TO BE MISSED.
And chocolate…you can never go wrong. The final course was a chocolate cake with crème fraiche and was the perfect finish to the perfect meal. The service throughout the tasting was outstanding and the staff were incredible, they pay attention to every single detail.
I loved my visit to Grasmere and The Forest Side and hope you can visit there someday too on your own Lake District holiday! If you want to read about more foodie getaways in the UK I hope you read my other features!
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*I stayed at The Forest Side as a media guest for review purposes but all views are my own, as always.