Feast your eyes
Just a few miles over the Yorkshire/Lancashire border in the beautiful Ribble Valley is Northcote, a 26-bedroom independently-owned country house hotel. It has been quietly gathering a stack of prestigious awards since it was first founded in 1984 by Nigel Haworth and Craig Bancroft; the most recent, the AA Hotel of the Year for 2016.
Haworth, the chef patron and a regular on the cookery programme circuit, was also shortlisted for AA’s Chef of the Year Award at the same event and the hotel’s restaurant has held a Michelin star since 1995. Each year, some of the finest chefs from around the world make a pilgrimage to Northcote for a 17-day gastronomic extravaganza.
Called Obsession, and now in its 17th year, it is, says Haworth, ‘a celebration of great food, wine and a meeting of friends oldandnew’.
Originally a 19th century manor house, Northcote also boasts an interactive cookery school and chef ’s table, a kitchen garden and a cellar filled with awardwinning wines.
Northcote has worked very hard to establish itself at the top of its game and has never lost sight of its goal to be a Mecca for food lovers and a champion of local producers and seasonal ingredients. A recent multi-million pound refurbishment added eight luxurious garden rooms in a separate building in the grounds and a gleaming stainless steel kitchen with a 12-seat chef ’s table that also serves as a cookery school.
We stayed in one of the beautifully decorated garden rooms with opulent soft furnishings, top-notch technology and a cavernous bathroom with walk-in shower. Should the weather have been more forgiving, we could have made use of the terrace which led out to a patio and private garden with chairs and table. Nice touches abound including a line of raincoats in the entrance to the Garden Room should you be unprepared for the weather.
We were at Northcote to experience their two-night gourmet break which combines food and wine with country pursuits including clay pigeon shooting
Great food and beautiful surroundings, a short hop from Yorkshire, make Northcote the perfect destination for a weekend break says Julie Marshall.
and off-road driving. The weekend began by the blazing fire in the cosy snug with glasses of Louis Roederer champagne and canapés before we were escorted to the glass-fronted chef ’s table for our five-course gourmet dinner cooked by executive head chef Lisa Goodwin-Allen.
Goodwin-Allen, one of four winning chefs on season five of the BBC’s Great British Menu is young and passionate and an absolute delight: she leaves her post at regular intervals and comes to our table between courses to explain the ethos behind each dish. Sommelier Alexandro Kitsos followed on with an explanation of the wines he’d paired with each dish.
The following morning it was back over the Yorkshire border to the Land Rover Experience Centre at Broughton Hall (yorkshire.landroverexperience.co.uk) which has partnered with Northcote and offers a discount as part of the package. We were able to see just how magnificent these vehicles are over tough terrain.
I’ve done a fair bit of off-roading so was well within my comfort zone. Not so when we were then driven to the Kelbrooke Shooting School (kelbrookshootingschool. co.uk) after a fine lunch at The Bull in Broughton, one of six pubs owned by Northcote. I was by far and away the worst shot in our group and I only managed to hit a clay or two by luck. Nevertheless it was great fun and instructor Michael Meggison, who represented Great Britain in two Olympic games, was incredibly patient.
The most basic gourmet package at Northcote costs from £350 per couple for one night then you can add on the half-day Land Rover Driving Experience (£395 per four-person car) and clay pigeon shoot (£65 per person) and an extra night for £185. northcote.com.
TOPOFITSGAME: Northcote, whose restaurant has held a Michelin star since 1995, remains a Mecca for food lovers.