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The Black Bull, Sedbergh, Cumbria
This classic coaching inn, on Sedbergh's narrow main street - a town famous for its school and bookstores - has been careful updated while retaining its historic character and purpose. It's still all about good food and hospitality, in classic pubby surrounds, but with a lighter, more contemporary touch. Food is of high gastropub quality and features subtle Asian influences; head chef and co-owner, Nina, has German and Japanese heritage. And a Japanese touch of sparing, subtle colour palette and use of natural materials are evident in the bedrooms. Bathrooms, in particular, are designed to ease limbs after a day's walking in the surrounding Howgills.
You can pull on your hiking boots and walk from the inn straight up onto the Howgill Fells. Pop into sister operation, Three Hares Deli upon your return, for a scrumptious scone.
Situated in Sedbergh town, inside the Yorkshire Dales and on the edge of the Lake District.
By car: 25 minutes from Kendal, just under 2 hours from Newcastle, 2 hours from Leeds and 5 from London. There is free parking at the hotel.
By train: Oxenholme Lake District and Garsdale stations are both a 20-minute drive from the hotel, with services from Leeds (1 hour 30 minutes), Carlisle (1 hour), London Euston (3 hours) and Edinburgh (2 hours). thetrainline.com
Style & Character
Food lovers will be tempted by Nina's spin on local produce, walkers (who like their comforts) will enjoy the less-touristy Howgills, and it's a useful stop-over on north-south journeys. The overall feel, particularly in the dining area with its vast street window (formerly a shop), is quietly classy but relaxed.
The view from the beer garden at the rear up onto the Howgill Fells is very pleasing, whether or not you intend to climb them. Dogs are welcome in three rooms and are offered bowls and biscuits. Owners can take meals with their dogs in either of the bar areas but not in the restaurant.
- Nearby walks
The bespoke Sedbergh-made bathroom products have names like Petrichor - 'the smell of fresh rain on dry earth' and reflect the attention to detail in the design of these restful rooms. Larger rooms have bigger bathrooms, some with separate bath and walk-in shower, and a couple with deep, soaking Japanese tubs.
Classic Doube, Luxury Double, Superior Double, Suite Double
Facilities include: elegant decor and furnishings, ensuite bathroom with bespoke products, TV, Wi-Fi, in-room safe, ironing facilities, hair dryer
Food & Drink
The mood in the evening subtly changes from pub to smart dining. Never stuffy, it makes you feel there's a treat in store. The freshly baked goods at breakfast, including scones and sausage rolls, are enough to warrant a return.
The Black Bull: Bright, modern feel. Fresh, local produce, inspired presentation. Japanese-influenced dishes are crafted from classic Yorkshire produce. Open for dinner Wednesday- Saturday, lunch Wednesday - Sunday. Mains from £14.95.