Sometimes ladies just want to pamper themselves (even ‘crazy chicken ladies’ who wear wellies and clean out hen coops like myself!) And after 18 months of lockdowns and Covid restrictions, my friend Caroline and I decided to take advantage of a special offer we spotted – three course dinner, bed and breakfast, a 25-minute spa treatment and use of the spa facilities. For a four-star hotel, it was surprisingly good value.
The venue was Appleby Manor Hotel in the Lake District, the Eden Valley to be precise. Even though the Lakes aren’t far from me, this was a location I had never visited before. Our treatment was at 3pm and we met at 12.30pm, assuming we would have plenty of time, judging by the distance. It was just as well we met early as the M6 was busy with traffic. What a difference to earlier in the year and last year during the lockdowns when roads were silent. After a brief stop at Truckhaven (which seemed to have more much personality than the bland but convenient service stations of these modern days), we continued on the journey up the M6 and off an A road, where, not too long after, we came across Appleby. Noting the castle, we made a note to come back the following day. But right now we had an appointment to make.
I was delighted with my first sight of Appleby Manor Hotel. It was a beautiful old house surrounded by Eden Valley countryside. Lake District mountains could be seen in the distance. It’s also not far from the North Pennines and Yorkshire Dales. I thought the building was very old, especially when we went into the reception and was greeted by traditional, cosy surroundings. It actually dates from 1871 (hence the name of the 1871 Bistro) and was built for a wealthy solicitor, John Alcock Heelis. Its original name was Garbridge House.
We beat the traffic to get to our beauty treatment in time. Mine was a Skin Booster Facial and was very relaxing. My face felt so refreshed and revigorated afterwards! We had an allocated time of 5pm to 7pm to use the spa facilities, so after a relaxing cup of tea in our room, we ventured to the Garden Spa. Because of the time allocation system, it wasn’t busy. I suspect this was put in place because of Covid but as someone who doesn’t like crowded places at the best of times, it suited me very much indeed.
After the weekend, I looked at the website and it explained that each heat experience is taken in turn ‘to slowly raise your body temperature whilst you relax, repeating the holistic and therapeutic benefits of water and heat’. Apparently the experience started with the ‘gentle heat’ of the aroma salt inhalation room and finished with the ‘intense heat’ of the sauna.
Well, there was no order to what we did. We enjoyed the pedidarium (a warm bath for the feet), sauna, salt room, jacuzzis (although we did have trouble finding the start button. Thankfully another spa user helpfully came to our aid!) One jacuzzi was in a courtyard garden which was a very nice setting indeed. The hydrotherapy pool with its water jets and bubble pools was our last stop.
After our lovely afternoon, we got ready for our meal at 8pm. The menu had prices attached but as our meal was included in the special offer, we didn’t have to think about the cost. (Although the bottle of wine wasn’t included).
After a leisurely breakfast the next morning (we could have spent more time in the spa facilities during our second time allocation but we decided not to), we set off to explore Appleby.
As it was Sunday morning, everything was closed but the castle was open. It was a little pricey to look around, so we only paid to look around the grounds. One day when I have more time I will look around the castle as I think there’s a lot of history here.
At one point, Caroline pointed and said, “look a squirrel”. I expected to see a cute but frequently seen grey squirrel but was excited to see a rare red squirrel darting off. Phone camera in hand, I followed, taking a photo where, if you squint, you might just see him or her.
The 27-acre grounds were beautiful and it was very pleasant indeed to wander around. But all good things come to an end, as they say, and we were soon back on the road. First a stop at a chocolate shop in Orton (we had thought there may have been a chocolate factory open to look around but it was closed) and then back to our favourite service station – Truckhaven, where to mark the occasion we bought Yorkie bars.
People in the UK may remember that Yorkie bar adverts once had the tagline ‘it’s not for girls!’ (For some reason, it seemed to be marketed at truckers). Well, in this case we decided to defy gender norms and enjoy a delicious bar of chocolate. The right ending for a weekend of luxury I’d say!
Fact of the Day
The Keep (which can be seen in my photos) is one of the few intact Norman Keeps in Great Britain and at over 900 years old is the oldest part of Appleby Castle. The castle has been held by Kings of Scotland and England.https://www.applebycastle.org/