Tucked away down a quiet ginnel in the picturesque village of Wiswell in Lancashire, the Freemasons is almost hidden from the eye, a secret place , that if sought out, delivers the most delicious food in a cosy country pub setting.
It seems a while ago now but a group of us congregated here for New Years Eve Lunch. I was almost tempted to sit outside, all wrapped up in one of those lovely plaid blankets that are draped over the benches. The promise of pre-luncheon drinks lured me indoors , where fox and stags heads adorn the walls and a roaring fire welcomes guests.
Once inside we were promptly shown to our table. As there were 11 of us eating, we had the advantage of a small intimate room to ourselves with a long wooden dining table. Chef Patron ‘Steven Smith’ has turned the bustling Inn into an aclaimed Gastro-pub with accolades including the highest ranking pub in 2017’s Good Food Guide .There are apparently also plans for several boutique bedrooms! But back to the food……
The delicious selection of breads that were brought out before the starters were divine and soon devoured. I didn’t have a starter but options included Wester Ross Salmon and Crispy Hen’s Egg with gammon & pineapple. Definitely a ‘ Fish n Chips’ girl , I ordered the Panko crumbed Haddock for my main course. Served with chips and mushy peas and the most lip smacking tartar sauce, I confidently declare this to be my favourite ‘ Fish n Chips’ dish in a long time. 🙂
For dessert several of us chose the Quince. It came with a stem ginger icecream and brownies….and many questions about Runcible spoons. 😉 Wil decided upon the Artisan Cheeses, which he really enjoyed.
With some starters costing more than your average main , the Freemasons is somewhere I would return for a special occasion or celebratory treat. Hmmm maybe I should hint to Wil about a certain date in February!
Looking back over 2016, I hadn’t quite realised how many times we have gone away this year. We’ve camped, we’ve stayed in some fab hotels & B & Bs , stopped in a beautifully restored Showman’s Wagon in Cornwall and we have cosied up in a lovely cottage in the grounds of a Scottish Castle. And what is the common denominator of all our trips. Our cheeky Black Labrador Hugo, that’s who! We hadn’t initially planned to have so many holidays with our pooch ( or indeed so many holidays full-stop ~ oooops) , but it is really handy that dogs are made welcome at such varied types of accommodation, all over the UK. Check out the following.
A Friendly Guest House In Grange. If you ever find yourself in the Cumbrian Seaside town of Grange-Over-Sands, like we did when participating in the Morecambe Bay Cross Bay Walk , The Elton Guest House is an ideal base for exploring this lovely part of the Lake District. The Elton is a Victorian limestone building with comfy rooms, a hearty breakfast and a very warm welcome from owners Lynn and Liam. Hugo got lots of fuss and attention and was even given a cooked sausage at breakfast. Lynn sorted out a table reservation at a pet-friendly restaurant for us in the evening. Oh and did I say we were welcomed with coffee and homemade chocolate muffins on arrival. 🙂 The little touches really made our stay. Double rooms £82 per night, Singles £50, Dogs £8 per stay.
A Cosy Cottage In Scotland. This beautiful property in the grounds of Lochinch Castle in Dumfries & Galloway was our home away from home for a week in November. With a large enclosed rear garden, a wood burning stove and unlimited access to Castle Kennedy Gardens and Lochinch Castle Estate, it is the perfect countryside retreat. Hugo had plenty of walks in the grounds and the wildlife we spotted was amazing. The cottage is gorgeous inside too and bicycles and a barbecue are also provided. For more photos check out my post here. 4 nights from £229.
A Campsite In The Yorkshire Dales. We have stopped at Howgill Lodge Campsite near the picturesque Yorkshire village of Appletreewick, several times over the years. It’s a friendly little site with stunning views over the Dales and nearby riverside walks to Bolton Abbey and Burnsall kept Hugo happy. Howgill has spacious pitches, each with it’s own picnic bench. There’s a small campsite shop, hot showers, toilets, payphone , laundry room and a dog exercise field. Two great dog-friendly pubs can be found in Appletreewick. Two people & a tent £21 per night. Dogs go free.
A Secluded Lake District Hotel. The Haweswater Hotel is perched right on the lake in one of the lesser known areas of The Lake District. It is just 20 minutes from J39 of the M6 , yet feels very remote and is surrounded by the beautiful Haweswater Nature Reserve. We stopped here over the May Bank Holiday and the chef packed us a lunch to take up into the fells. The hotel has an art deco inspired interior and some of the bedrooms look very elegant on the website. Ours was a wee bit pokey and could have been nicer I think, even though we were staying in a dog-friendly room. The staff were lovely however and if you love wildlife and walking, this hotel is for you. Double rooms on average £85 per night. Dogs £15 per stay.
A restored Showman’s Wagon in the Cornish Countryside. Wow I loved our stay in ‘The Duke’ at Spring Park in North Cornwall so so much. The Duke is a lovingly restored vintage Showman’s Wagon. He lords over his own pretty Wildflower Meadow and is equipped with everything you will need for a cosy stay, including a french enamel wood burner, fully equipped kitchen and a wood fueled hot tub. Hugo got plenty of walks in the surrounding countryside and the nearby Springer Spaniel Pub is dog-friendly and does great food. You can read more about our stay and see lots of photos here. 🙂From £68 per night. Dogs £20 per stay.
Hotel Stays With Pets Pyjamas. If you really want to treat your dog ( and yourself lol 😉 ) , you would definitely benefit from checking out the Pets Pyjamas website. Browse their portfolio of pet-friendly cottages, dog-welcoming hotels, Country Houses and B & Bs .Look out for their unique packages which usually include a personalised box of treats for your pooch and even dinner for your dog. My post Hotel stays with Pets Pyjamas. will give you more information.
Coastal Campsite in Lancashire. By far the most scenic campsite on the Lancashire Coast Gibraltar Farm campsite in Silverdale is a traditional working farm with breathtaking views over Morecambe Bay. You can even stay in ancient woodland adjacent to the site or just enjoy the coastal panorama. Gibraltar Farm has the usual campsite facilities and there are walks and beaches as soon as you step outside your tent. The farm even makes its own icecream. Tents from £12 per night. Dogs £1 per night.
So it looks as though we have certainly enjoyed many a dog-friendly holiday with Hugo in 2016. Next year ~ a cosy cottage in Keswick….then we had better get on with that decorating!
Sunday means Sunday Sevens , a collection of seven photos from my personal week. 1) I treated the bedroom to a seahorse. Every bedroom should have one don’t you think ! Even though we live nowhere near the sea, I kind of like anything nautical…and Cecil fits the bill. We spent last weekend de – cluttering the bedroom. Seven bin liners full later plus one sea blue addition and I am one happy gal. Not sure Wil is as enamoured with Cecil as I am though!
2). I actually made a pudding. Caramel Apple Bake is a recipe I found on Pinterest and it tastes like Autumn and deliciousness. 🙂
3). I collected these Autumn leaves, nuts and berries on one of our walks with Hugo. There’s so much colour outdoors at the moment. I have been photographing different wildlife every day in October and my most recent post is here.
4). And if I can shamelessly plug my posts here is ‘the best berry pavlova ever’ which I devoured at the new cafe at Holmes Mill . Definitely an indulgent treat but you will need your pennies. 😉
5).Speaking of delicious food, Wil and I enjoyed a lovely cheeseboard whilst in Skipton yesterday. Coopers Cafe Bar on Broughton Road is definitely recommended if you are in the area. It is actually also home to the studio of crafty blogger Lucy from Attic 24. I didn’t have a sneak peek though, maybe next time.
6). It’s been a while since I’ve visited Skipton ( I don’t know why? ) and a few new shops have sprung up. I loved this cute window display at The Vintage Wash House , which sells traditional cleaning products, homewares and gifts.
7). The last picture is of my two god daughters. We had a nice Autumn walk with friends, their kids and a bunch of dogs yesterday. Fun times. 🙂
Back in the summer I blogged about Bowland Beer Hall . at Holmes Mill in Clitheroe. The Hall which has what is thought to be the longest continuous bar in England serves 42 ever-changing cask ales, as well as a range of tasty bar snacks. But horror of horrors, there are no puddings on the menu! Happily the cafe at Holmes Mill is now open. And there is cake. 🙂
After a weekend of mostly tidying and decluttering the house , a good strong coffee and dessert was needed! I dragged the OH to the newly opened cafe which is situated in what was the old boiler room at the mill. Presently only coffee and cakes ( but a great selection of cakes!) are available, although breakfasts and lunches are planned for the not too distant future. I couldn’t resist this divine Berry Pavlova, whilst Wil chose a delicious Hazelnut & caramel cheesecake.
The cakes are all homemade on site ( or’ Holmes Made’ according to their website 😉 ) which is nice to know. Whilst sipping my coffee, I took a few photos of our surroundings. The patisserie opens out into the Bowland Brewery shop which in turn is next to a Gelateria. 🙂
8th October. Blackberries in the park. A late Summer and Autumn fruit that can be made into allsorts of lovely puddings, pies, jellies, junkets and jams. Here is a recipe for Apple & Blackberry Crumble .
9th October. Today (Sunday) turned out to be a good nature spotting day as it was sunny and still warm enough not to wear a coat. Although in the morning we had spied lots of squirrels at Gawthorpe Hall , it was our afternoon walk around Standen on the outskirts of Clitheroe that proved more fruitful. I hope I have identified these right! The fungi looks like Ink Cap Mushrooms which are apparently edible.If they are them however, they are poisonous when combined with alcohol ~ leading to their other moniker ‘Tippler’s Bane’. :b. The Dragonfly is a Common Darter which is one of the few dragonflies that are around well into Autumn. The beautiful butterfly is a Comma , so named because the species have a white marking on their underside similar to a comma.:)
10th October. View of the rather straggly honeysuckle in my backyard. It never has many flowers and those that bloom don’t have the lovely scent that wild honeysuckle has. 😦
11th October. A-haaah my friend the Grey Heron! There’s a particular spot on the river protected by a canopy of trees, that heron’s like to fish. I was passing with Hugo ( my dog) at just the right time to capture this photo. 🙂
12th October. A sunny morning though a bit nippy. These Elderberries grow by a wall which is a bit of a sun trap. The shrub’s clusters of fragrant creamy white blossom that bloom in the summer lend their flowers to cordials and champagne. The berries of Autumn can be made into wine and preserves.
13th October. I love the candy striped flowers of the Herb Robert. They look so delicate but can flower well into Autumn.
14th October. One of my favourite Autumn flowers is the orange Chinese Lantern. A house nearby has an abundance of them adorning its garden.
Thanks for joining me in my second week of posting a wildlife photo every day in October…
Sunday dawned bright and sunny with an Autumnal nip in the air. We decided to try visiting Gawthorpe Hall again , a handsome looking Grade 1 listed Elizabethan residence in Padiham. On our last visit the car park was jam packed full on a weekend lunch time ,so we turned back. And sure enough it was pretty busy at half nine on this particular morning too. It turns out there is a school football ground nearby so I guess families were dropping off their kids. I’m not to sure where Hall visitors should park at such times. 😦 However we were fortunate on this occasion!
Although it would have been lovely to look inside this fine old house, we had Hugo with us ( dogs are only allowed in the grounds and Stubbins Estate) so we explored the outside for a couple of hours. Hugo enjoyed bombing around and it was still early enough for him not to bother anyone. The Hall itself did not open until 11am.
Gawthorpe Hall was built in the early 1600’s and was the family seat of the Shuttleworth family until the 20th century when it was gifted to the National Trust.
A lot of work was done on the house and garden in the 1840’s when Janet Shuttleworth married Sir James Kay of Rochdale. The now Kay-Shuttleworths commissioned Sir Charles Barry to carry out restorations . Sir Charles was the architect who remodelled Highclere House , which is the filming location of Downton Abbey. The couple were also friendly with Charlotte Bronte who visited Gawthorpe a couple of times and it is through them that she met her friend, the writer Elizabeth Gaskell.
A walk around the estate and we met these two characters. I shall call them Nippy and Chomper ! Chomper took a shine to me and more specifically my right arm. They were cute…but hungry. Serves me right for not bringing them apples. 🙂
The grounds at Gawthorpe Hall are lovely to walk around especially in Autumn when the trees are slowly changing from green to reds and golds. I will leave you with a few more photos and if you would like to learn more about this National Trust Property, please take a look at Cathy’s blog post here.