A feast you will want to share; ALEX HIBBERT has a culinary epiphany at Holbeck Ghyll and just can't keep it to himself.
FDuring my two-day stay at Windermere's Holbeck Ghyll, one such event takes place.
Not a skydive or spotting an endangered species, instead it occurs on my second night dining in the hotel's restaurant, as I savour what is - for the second evening in a row - some of the best food I have ever eaten.
I'm assessing the final half of my fillet of beef, truffle pomme-puree and wild mushrooms, when I suddenly feel the urge to feed the rest to my partner.
Not in an awful public display of affection. But to, you know, hand it to someone else.
Let's be clear, in 28 years I have built up a well established reputation as someone who does not share food. Ever.
But this meal is just so good that I truly feel like someone else should - nay, must - enjoy it, too.
After the deed is done I feel positively philanthropic, like I've committed an altruistic deed up there with Bill Gates setting up his charitable foundation.
Superlatives are easy to bandy around, but seriously, Ghyll's food is that good.
And it's not just the beef. Over the weekend we savour a ham hock, piccalilli, beetroot and quail's egg dish that is just as spectacular, and a chocolate dessert that - despite the fact that I've not got too much of a sweet tooth - I could eat daily.
Breakfast is always going to struggle to match an eveningbased three-course pilgrimage to foodie heaven, but the hotel's isn't far off.
Built in the early 19th century and once previously owned by all-round crackpot and adventurer Lord Lonsdale, the house - which is perched at the top of one of Cumbria's fells - is just beautiful. It is exclusive without an ounce of stuffiness; traditional without being tired.
Done in an arts and crafts style, each room offers slightly different experiences designed to cater to a guest's tastes.
As well as rooms and suites in the main house, there are luxury cottages, yet more suites, and a 'Miss Potter' cottage-style residence where Hollywood star Renee Zellweger lived while shooting the film Miss Potter.
Pet dogs are more than welcome to come and stay, too, depending on what room you're in.
If you're looking at the pictures and think Ghyll rings a bell, it might be because it featured in the Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan TV comedy series The Trip.
Because of Ghyll's elevated spot, our room offered a quite breathtaking view over Lake Windermere's eastern shores (which has been voted as one of the world's best), and we were welcomed by a beautiful four-poster bed, a complimentary decanter of locally-distilled damson gin, fresh flowers and our own private terrace.
During the weekend we also enjoyed the panoramic views from the hotel's hot tub, which is available to hire for half-hour slots.
Taken over about five years ago by Stephen and Lisa Leahy, it's clear they are set on pumping money into the place to make it better than ever before.
The restaurant boasted a Michelin star until the end of last year, after holding it since the turn of the millennium. In all honesty, we were amazed when we discovered it no longer held the accolade, so fine was its food.
And as well as a superb restaurant, the on-site spa facilities are also second to none. There's a conference room with its own private kitchen, and last year they finished work on their own bio-boiler, so the hotel is more eco-friendly than ever.
Renowned head chef David McLaughlin works with sommelier Stefan Lydka, whose wine recommendations suited our tastes perfectly. The pair also work shoulder to shoulder with a dedicated team who are all resoundingly great.
Considering I'm still somewhat of a spring chicken, I was a bit worried about the restaurant being a little stiff, like an elongated ride in a lift, where the only thing to break the silence is the occasional awkward cough.
I needn't have worried, as we ended up making great pals with the staff and management - who are formal but also fun, and only too happy to chat and help wherever they can.
We're also looked after wonderfully by Ghyll's manager Andrew Macpherson and his wife Jane, who don't just make us feel welcome, but practically adopt us for the weekend.
Despite finding it difficult, we do manage to tear ourselves away from Ghyll during our stay.
Andrew dished out some sterling advice on where to go walking when we wanted to explore Cumbria's famous fells - one of his "favourites" that incorporated a three-hour trek, a big slab of cake at the pretty stupendous Chesters cafe to start.
It ended with us suitably exhausted, wet, and in need of sustenance, enjoying a very well-deserved and warming pint and pie at the Eltermere Inn.
If you're after luxury in the Lakes then Ghyll really is the place, and you might be surprised by the prices if you do think about booking.
For me, one visit didn't seem anywhere near enough, and I know I will be back, though I am not sure I will be sharing again next time around.
NEED TO KNOW Alex Hibbert | stayed at Holbeck Ghyll as a guest of the owners. Prices for dinner at Holbeck Ghyll start at PS68 for three courses. Rooms start at around PS160 per night with bed and breakfast, but watch for special offers throughout the year at www.holbeckghyll.com
The |charming setting of Holbeck Ghyll
Enjoy one of the world's greatest views - Windermere's eastern shores - from the comfort of your bed at Holbeck Ghyll or have a drink in the bar before settling in for a fantastic meal in the restaurant