Falling hook, line and sinker for Troutbeck


Falling hook, line and sinker for Troutbeck

This storied Dutchess County estate excels whether you're seeking literary inspiration or just some fresh country air

Richard MacKichan

BY Richard MacKichan8 May 2022

A river, quite literally, runs through it. Well, the Webatuck Creek does at any rate; its rushing waters pass as you turn off the Leedsville Road. That no namesake trout leap out by way of greeting is my only gripe.

Troutbeck is a true salve-from-the-city estate – stone bridges, sloping gardens, dense woodlands, aforementioned water, squabbling squirrels – with a statuesque stone manor house at its heart. No need to knock, its door is open; a signature later and the house is yours. I mean, you only get one room to sleep in (and what a room: elegant, spacious, choice furnishings, Malin + Goetz-stocked bathroom) but the rest is to do what you will with.

Me? I put my feet up and read by the fire, shot some pool, sampled some local Hudson Valley whiskeys with the genial barman, put my feet up again and read by a different fire…

Some notes, while we’re here, on reading, because Troutbeck has some serious literary pedigree. Its first owner, Myron B Benton was, to quote the sign that greets you on the driveway, a ‘poet-naturalist [and] friend of John Burroughs, Emerson and Thoreau’. Its second owner was once head of Columbia’s literature department and continued the estate’s use as a writerly retreat for the likes of Nobel laureate Sinclair Lewis and historian Lewis Mumford who surmised that ‘a democratic continuity of spirit binds together the families that have occupied Troutbeck’. So you’ll find no schlocky holiday reads lining the various shelves; it was a pristine Paul Auster hardback that stood out from my little bedside library.

As for the outdoors, there are 45 acres to stroll, a tennis court to try out, a centrepiece pool and some perfectly placed riverside perches to while away an afternoon. Check the diary for all manner of cultural happenings too – the likes of Sudan Archives have played down by the pool and, this summer, cult brands Dôen and Yola mezcal will host pop-ups in the shop and bar respectively.

For higher-octane thrills, this is prime mountain-biking territory, there are horse-riding stables nearby and all manner of local water-based activities, including, yes, fishing. Hungry? You probably will be. Settle in to a smart banquette back in the dining room and savour some fresh-as-it-gets very local fare (ask for the crispy chicken, even if it’s not on the menu).

Come by car and you can day trip to hip Hudson, cute Kent, the bucolic Berkshires. Hotfoot it on the Metro North from Grand Central (about two hours to nearby Wassaic) and you’re certainly not stranded – nearby Millerton has a great antiques emporium, an inviting tin-can diner and a bookstore for stocking up on more fireside reads. Even if your stay doesn’t coincide with a freak snowstorm, as mine did, this is the kind of place you end up hoping you get stranded in nonetheless.

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