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A Refreshing UK AA Country Hotel Break
There is no sharper tonic than a refreshing break to the country. Anywhere you are in the World, there are wonders to remark on; whether it be the olive and lemon groves of Sicily that bask in red terrain, the eucalyptus trees that line the esplanades in Southern Spain, or the fertile rolling hills and contrasting landscape of the British countryside.
People flock from all over the world to take in what Great Britain has in terms of forever changing landscapes, and whilst we take our travels further afield; we often miss out on what is closer to home. Whilst there are many unique beauty spots to be found in the British countryside, none are more revered than the wild and rugged beauty of the Yorkshire Dales.
Yorkshire has some of the oldest ruins and abbeys to be found, world class cuisine, and surprisingly comfortable and stylish good value accommodation that fares well with business clients and locals looking for a weekend break. Its the land that inspired David Hockney, where he captured the essence of the British landscape in all its beauty. The deep ravines of limestone for which the area is famed for characterise much of the hillsides.
The high-speed rail link in operation, means a trip to the Dales takes the same time as crossing from one side of London to the other. GNER trains also run a high-speed fast and frequent service from London’s Kings Cross, which is a pleasant ride interspersed with fantastic scenery to absorb whilst you sit back. The journey time takes 2.5 hours, and there is one change at Leeds, where the interconnecting train takes you to Skipton, as this part of the track does not have the electrical infrastructure compatible to GNER high-speed trains. The Leeds to Skipton GNER train runs on Diesel HST for the last leg of the journey, taking you straight into Skipton town.
Where To Stay
The Devonshire Fell Hotel
The Devonshire Fell is a boutique hotel situated in the picture postcard village of Burnsall, with its tea rooms, cottages and river streams trickling through. It is one of the most photographed villages in Britain. The Devonshire Fell is a rare find, and something that would not exist in London, in any shape or form, given the facilities, comfort, style and value for money. Gone are the days that a Bed and Breakfast should mean a greasy fry up in the morning, with more spring in the receptionist than in the bed mattress. A ‘suite’ is no longer something you would be lucky enough to sample in the form of a cola drop handed to you as a welcome gift. Character beams, comfort, entertainment and gourmet style dining can all be found at the same price as a B & B- at the Devonshire Fell Hotel. During our stay, we were met with nothing but charming and welcoming service that made it that bit more special.
You can’t relegate this hotel to the status of a 3 – star because it has so much more to offer. On the other hand, there is none of the pretense of a 4-star and the service is equivalent to, if not better and caters to the individual needs of the guests staying there. All of the 12 spacious rooms have been named after different villages, and come complete with features such as wide – screen televisions, comfy armchairs, character beams, painted walls and authentic bedsteads, rendering them with an up-to date and stylish feel. Suites come equipped with a writing desk with a separate area for relaxing in with a stylish sofa to soak up the views over the river and rolling hills.
It has a bar in the lobby, serving mixers, wines and cocktails and the hotel has its own wine cellar to give you some idea of the range offered. With a restaurant that has deservedly been awarded 2 AA rosettes, and the complimentary use of facilities such as a day spa, swimming pool, and the use of bicycles and tennis courts at the nearby Devonshire Country Estate Hotel, it sits comfortably in a league of its own.
Prices start at £75.00 for dinner, bed and breakfast.
For enquiries and reservations: call 01756 718111.
There is something to appeal to couples, families and walking enthusiasts alike, as this area is rich in history, scenic beauty, and traditional villages. It has Britain’s oldest Abbey, heaps of heritage sites, fantastic walking, and old inns serving the best ale, of course. Bolton Abbey lies nestled in a curve of the river on the Duke of Devonshire’s Bolton Abbey Estate, and is the oldest of its kind in the UK. From here, keen hikers can also take the four mile walk upstream taking them to the ancient Hunting Lodge, Barden Tower. Skipton is 12 miles away, and as well as some good shopping, it has an 11th Century Castle that is well worth a visit.
We hired our bikes and set off on the not too challenging trek to Bolton Abbey, which was 5 miles there and back. As something of an amateur cyclist, this was about right, since you can be met with some steep inclines here that will keep you on your toes. The area is incredibly popular with cyclists for this reason, but the roads can be quite treacherous unless you are used to them.
Bolton Abbey is a must to see, since you get a glimpse of what life must have been like for the Augustine Monks living there. The Augustine monks were granted the land by Lady Alice De Romille of Skipton. Whilst the original abbey is in ruins, there is a detailed map on a plaque showing the original layout of all the rooms, so from the positioning of each room, you can see which ruin represents which part of the living quarters. The Priory Church itself is intact inside, and the 13th Century architecture of the Nave is a masterpiece in craftwork, with six magnificent Medieval stained glass windows, each telling a story of tradition through the imagery.
Shopping and Sightseeing
Skipton is an old mill town fondly named ‘Gateway to the Dales’. It is surrounded by waterways, with a popular way of exploring the town by boat. There are many canal boat trips organised through the Tourist Office, or you can do it independently, and hire your own. Whilst the area around the station is not that appealing, don’t be disheartened, as the old town has some fantastic high-end shops, restaurants, and an old mill. It earned itself the title of ‘Best UK High Street’ in 2009, at the Academy of Urbanism Awards. Once you venture further into the cobbled streets of the old town, you find a veritable treasure trove of boutiques, art galleries and antique shops, and the High Corn Mill dating back to 1310. Fantastic sights, such as where Skipton Castle perches magnificently on a steep cliff, provide amazing views across the town and canal basin.
The Millenium Walk opened in Skipton in 2000, and gives visitors the chance to explore further afield into the lesser known nooks and crannies that are waiting to be discovered. As well as taking in the main historic sights, this walk follows a footpath that takes you deep into the rural beauty of this area.
Malham Cove is less than half an hours drive from Skipton, and is a stunning example of limestone formed in the last ice age, where the cove was cut back as it fell over the edge of a waterfall. If you are up for a challenge, take the 416 steps up to the top to see the limestone pavement and take in the breathtaking view.