Travel review: Lovelady Country House Hotel and the CB Inn

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Living in West Yorkshire, with its winning combination of cities, towns and river valleys, there’s one geographical feature which looms large.

When the weather forecast warns of snow over the Pennines, it means a deluge here.

And when you describe a trip over to Manchester or Liverpool, you’re going across the Pennines.

So it was a little unexpected, as we headed to a hotel we thought was roughly to the right of the Lake District, to find ourselves passing a sign welcoming us to the North Pennines.

This was a new place on us – but it’s an area of moorland and dales which claims to be among the most unspoiled places in England.

Travelling to Lovelady Shield Country House Hotel, it was hard to disagree. Taking a winding road from Barnard Castle, we climbed higher and higher until we felt like we were on top of the globe.

After dropping down again to the village of Alston, we soon found the leafy drive to Lovelady Shield.

Though it’s believed to be one of the highest country house hotels in the country, it is tucked away in an idyllic location.

Nestled amongst trees and greenery, a stream runs alongside the hotel, edging along fields filled with lambs.

Inside, guests are welcomed heartily to what is the antitheses to modern chain hotels - at Lovelady Shield it is cosy, personal and homely.

Our wonderfully warm first floor room overlooked the front lawn and was so roomy that it boasted a sofa designed for sinking into.

To prepare for dinner, we did just that, but thankfully managed to drag ourselves downstairs for our evening meal.

From the warmed peanuts that accompanied our drinks before dinner, to the coffee by a roaring fire afterwards, it was a delight.

Each of the seven courses which made up the tasting menu were beautifully presented and tasted even better than they looked.

Highlight of the meal was the main course which - sorry - included one of those little cute lambs.

There was beautifully cooked loin, a confit-style shoulder and possibly the world’s smallest Shepherd’s pie. The question of how they got it into a minuscule Kilner jar occupied us for the rest of the evening.

Then it was on to a gorgeous dessert featuring tropical fruits and coconut, then cheese...

It was a miracle that we could manage breakfast the next day, but somehow between us we polished off a full breakfast and kedgeree.

For our next destination, we headed back into God’s Own County.

Yet more twisty turny roads brought us to beautiful Arkengarthdale, in the Yorkshire Dales.

The landscape may be different, but the location was as quiet and unspoiled as in the North Pennines.

Our destination was the Charles Bathurst Inn, otherwise known as the CB Inn.

This whitewashed building sits on the edge of the valley, which was once the centre of lead mining and the hillsides still bear the scars of the workings that entailed.

Charles Bathurst was the local lord of the manor in the 18th century, who gave his name to the most important mines and also the inn, which dates from the same period.

An extension in 1999 added a new wing, though it gels very well with the historic rest of the building.

We were shown to our room from the traditional pub area, which we could already tell would be a perfect place to while away the evening.

Our lovely double-aspect room looked out down the valley one way and across it the other, onto fields filled with yet more fluffy lambs.

Antique furniture added to the classic charm of the spacious bedroom, though it included all the modern facilities you would expect too, as well as the added bonus of homemade biscuits on the tea tray.

Luckily we made sure we left room for dinner, seeing as our break had become decidedly food-orientated.

The CB Inn offers a regularly changing menu of locally-sourced food, all written on an imposing mirror in the middle of the pub.

It’s a relaxed set-up that involves ordering at the bar and then taking a seat at a table there or in the very slightly more formal restaurant.

Chilled out the atmosphere may be, but the food isn’t pub grub.

My starter of tomato soup was rich with the deep, sweetness of fresh plum tomatoes and came alongside irresistible bread for dunking.

A pork main course was equally good, showing the chef’s expert hand in the kitchen.

Across the table, yet another of those lambs was proving rather tasty to my companion.

To finish, my lemon posset was gorgeously silken, with the richness offset by the citrus tang.

After a drink in the bar, we slept brilliantly, the silence outside only broken by the odd bleating lamb.

Breakfast was hearty, with the homemade yoghurt a particular highlight.

It set us up for what our book of walking routes assured us was a non-strenuous four-miler.

We cursed it as we trekked up the side of the valley, but the sweeping view at the top was worth it.

Both of our stays, just a few hours from home, proved the perfect setting to get away from it all.

FACTFILE

Contact Lovelady Country House hotel via 01434 381 203, enquiries@lovelady.co.uk or www.lovelady.co.uk
Special offers from £85 per person for dinner, bed and breakfast
Contact the Charles Bathurst Inn on 01748 884567 or visit www.cbinn.co.uk for special offers.
Bed and breakfast from £113 per double room. Dinner, bed and breakfast from £296 per double room for two nights or £444 for three.

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