And his wife trav­elled to a bou­tique bolt­hole in a beau­ti­ful cor­ner of North­ern Eng­land for a short break


Western Mail - - GETAWAY -

ENG­LAND is blessed with stun­ning scenery. From the Lake District to Dart­moor via the North York Moors and the Peak District, so much of the coun­try of­fers lus­cious land­scapes. But one cor­ner of Eng­land often slips un­der the radar of the tourist guides, the won­der­ful Western Dales.

Sit­ting at the top of the York­shire Dales Na­tional Park and strad­dling equally en­tranc­ing Cum­brian coun­try­side, it’s an area slightly off the beaten track.

York­shire folk often de­scribe their county as God’s Coun­try – and you can see their point, what with the vi­brant greens and golds colour­ing the fields and trees.

To the right sit the hulk­ing Howgill Fells; to the left are cosy farms and neat fields bor­dered by tra­di­tional stone walls that give way to the higher ly­ing moor­land. When the sun shines a cer­tain way, it’s heaven on earth.

We were stay­ing at the lovely Black Bull Inn, on Sed­bergh’s nar­row, pic­turesque Main Street. Our room was light and airy thanks to win­dows on three sides and a taste­fully re­strained colour scheme. The bed was huge and com­fort­able.

The en-suite bath­room had a large, stand­alone bath as well as a walk-in shower but was still spa­cious.

De­scribed ac­cu­rately as a ‘bou­tique bolt­hole’, the ho­tel has every­thing a dis­cern­ing trav­eller could wish for.

A cosy bar and an im­pres­sive res­tau­rant dom­i­nate the ground floor, while there are 18 lovely rooms of vary­ing shapes and sizes up­stairs, all of which are named af­ter lo­cal fells.

The Black Bull has been lov­ingly ren­o­vated by part­ners James Rat­cliffe and Nina Mat­sunaga and they can be justly proud of their ef­forts.

Prior to our evening meal, we en­joyed a tip­ple in the bar and dis­cov­ered a tempt­ing choice of beers in­clud­ing sev­eral Black Sheep brews.

The meal it­self was a treat, high end cui­sine with friendly ser­vice. Noth­ing too snooty or st, I chose rab­bit with black pud­ding, root veg­eta­bles and mus­tard. The meat ten­der and tasty and the flavours com­ple­mented each other per­fectly.

For the main course I was tempted by the veni­son and the grouse but opted for Mansergh Hall pork with ar­ti­choke, sal­sify and pur­ple sprout­ing broc­coli, plus a side or­der of dauphi­noise po­ta­toes. It was a wise choice. The flavours burst on the tongue with ev­ery bite.

For dessert I plumped for the baked egg cus­tard with rasp­berry and gin­ger­bread and, again, was re­warded with a mouth-wa­ter­ing treat.

My wife was equally im­pressed by her meal so, all in all, we en­joyed a very spe­cial night.

The day had been pretty spe­cial too. Blessed by lovely In­dian sum­mer weather, we wanted to ex­plore the coun­try­side around Sed­bergh – now in Cum­bria but once in the West Rid­ing of York­shire – and came up with a cun­ning plan.

We would take a bus from the town to Dent and walk the five miles back, which we es­ti­mated would take a cou­ple of en­er­getic hours and al­low plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties to soak up the mag­nif­i­cent views.

Dent­dale feels like it’s a long way from any­where and, bathed in sun­shine, Dent it­self looked pretty as a pic­ture. Af­ter a leisurely look around the vil­lage, we en­joyed a cup of tea and slice of cake at the Her­itage Cen­tre be­fore head­ing back.

The walk will live long in the mem­ory. The views of the hills, the me­an­der­ing River Dee and the val­ley stretch­ing away in both di­rec­tions; pick­ing a bram­ble or two and gen­er­ally en­joy­ing the si­lence and soli­tude; it was bliss.

Next day, af­ter a peace­ful and restora­tive sleep, we tucked into a full English Black Bull break­fast that set us up nicely for an­other day of ex­plor­ing, with an en­joy­able look around Sed­bergh, known as ‘Eng­land’s Book Town’ for stores such as West­woods, which has more than 70,000 books on two floors.

We headed north out of the town along Howgill Lane and en­coun­tered yet more lovely land­scapes.

But then every­thing about our short stay in Sed­bergh and the Black Bull was lovely.

The Black Bull, above and be­low, is a haven of so­phis­ti­ca­tion to re­turn to at the end of a day en­joy­ing ru­ral de­lights

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