Hotel Review: The Plough Inn, a Lake District labour of love that has paid off

There must surely have been a point when Richard Rose wondered if he had bitten off more than he could chew after he bought the run-down Plough Inn in Lupton in 2009.

His budget to make something extra special out of the early 18th century inn, nestling on the border between North Yorkshshire and the southern Lakes, just a few miles from Windermere, had been blown to pieces by unforeseen expense.

An end wall, 20ft wide and 4ft thick, had blown and needed rebuilding from top to bottom; much of the old flooring had crumbled beyond repair and needed battoning and covering in wonderful antique oak; and the roof needed major repair works.

Bedroom at The Plough Inn

All that space: During the renovations, Richard Rose reduced The Plough's rooms from 11 to five

And so it went on as The Plough - appropriately named given the money being ploughed into it - was gradually dragged into the 21st century, resulting, eventually, in the wonderful inn standing in front of me. A building that combines old world country charm with state-of-the-art facilities, conveniently placed just a couple a couple of miles off junction 36 of the M6 highway between England and Scotland.

The Plough is believed to have existed on the same spot between the beautiful market town of Kirkby Lonsdale and Kendal since the 1760s, with views of Farleton Knott, an ancient local landmark that was once a beacon hill used to send warning of 'Scottish irruptions'. The Knott now serves as a good challenge for walkers, fell runners and mountain bikers, with stunning Lakeland and Lune Valley views.

It had 11 bedrooms when Richard embarked on his monumental two-stage project, but now has just five, with one more in the roof to come.

After 12 months of meticulous creation, they were opened on June 19 - exactly a year to the day that The Plough's open-plan ground floor resurfaced from its own 12-month timber-beamed, open-fired, antiques-furnished restoration.

So does Richard - born nearby in Hawkshead and also the owner the much-vaunted Punch Bowl, Michelin's 2009 pub of the year, set in the unspoilt Lyth Valley at Crosthwaite - have any regrets?

The Plough Inn exterior
Roll-top bath in the bathroom at The Plough

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'None whatsoever,' he says with conviction. 'It certainly cost more that I had envisaged, but that's what happens when you refuse to compromise. It had to be perfect ... well to me at least.'

So in went colossal beams that had been hewn from five-year-old seasoned oaks that he found in Cheshire. They are criss-crossed by 300-year-old oak beams also sourced from Cheshire. There are two rustic wine caves, the dining tables are all antiques that Richard and his team found 'here, there and everywhere' on their travels, while the traditional sideboards are custom made in Ipswich.

'Richard wanted it to be quite masculine,' says Abi Lloyd, general manager of both The Plough and the Punch Bowl. 'He wanted the create the feeling of a shooting lodge.'

But Abi managed to persuade him to soften the tone with neutral Farrow and Ball colour schemes, especially effective in the sumptuous bedrooms, all named after the area's baronial landowners of yesteryear - Torsin, Harrington, Musgrave, Redman and Bellingham.

In converting the original 11 bedrooms into five, they now boast the largest bathrooms you are likely to ever come across, especially the Redman

Each one features a two-person shower cubicle, roll-top bath - there are even two of these in The Noble at The Punch Bowl - and table with chair just in case you need a rest while making your way back to the bedroom.

And in The Bellingham a separate sitting room doubles as a nursery - or even a 'kennel' should anyone wish to keep two dogs close at hand.

The bar at The Plough

Getthe drinks in: The Plough has a old-world pub feel to it with elegant modern touches

The response from visitors has been extremely positive. They are already enjoying 65 per cent occupancy and see the diary filling rapidly, with repeat bookings also strong - a good indicator to its future prosperity.

At the Punch Bowl, which is more akin to a country home where guests tend to stay two or three nights, a 98 per cent take up rate means it often offers would-be guests The Plough as an alternative, and those who accept are usually more than satisfied.

The two properties have their own unique atmospheres, and differ in many respects, although they are marked by their comfort, a desire to please and attention to detail .

The cuisine at both is also excellent, but distinct. The Punch Bowl is more fine dining, from oysters to roasted Goosnargh duck, while The Plough is more country pub-ish, and easier on the purse, with light bite starters, such as delicate tempura prawns, and mains ranging from fish and chips and beef suet pudding to venison sausages and and melt- in-the-mouth steaks.

They certainly both an ideal base for an autumn getaway. Now if only the Lakes weather would hold out...

Travel Facts

The Plough (015395 67700, ranges from £85 to £200 a night, but currently has special rates of £42.50 per person a night.

The Punch Bowl (015395 68237, ranges from £95 to £305 a night per room, but also often has special offers available.

Book a three-night midweek stay at either The Plough or The Punch Bowl between November 1 - December 11 and pay for just two nights. Call 015395 67700 and quote ‘Mail32’.

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