The Lord Crewe Arms, Blanchland
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Have you heard of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding
Natural Beauty? No, I hadn’t either but what a gem. Our trip takes us to the Durham/Northumberland border
where we find a special place – no chocolate box, but beautiful in a rugged way.
This land of heather moors houses 80% of England’s black grouse, with room to
spare for short-eared owl, ring ouzel, and common redshank. There is industrial history, rare alpine plants and one of
England’s biggest waterfalls – High Force.
We are heading for the Lord Crewe Arms in Blanchland, named after the white clothed monks who founded their abbey here in 1165.
The hotel incorporates several buildings around the square. We
head out for the door marked ‘Angel’, and climb two flights to ‘Muggleswick’ named
after a nearby village. There are smaller ‘cosy’ rooms, but this is the bigger ‘canny’
with the comfiest super-king bed. Country House meets Fortified Manor style
from a soothing light ash, taupe and olive palette. There are some delightful
extras - tartan rugs, bath robes, hot water bottle, ensuring you’ll always be
cosy; teas for every taste; yummy pack of fudge; walking pack including local
OS map, compass, torch.
Sitting in our matching window seats, books close by is so
relaxing. Views of the Pennines to the left and to the right, honeyed stone
cottages, set against a verdant backdrop. We are birds eye height, among the
chimney pots. A wisp of smoke adds to the romanticism. Lingering here the whole
stay wouldn’t be a chore.
The buildings are ancient with uneven stone floors, changes
in level and no lift. If mobility is your challenge, there are several ground
floor bedrooms and one accessible to wheelchair users. The dining room is on
the first-floor, but they will happily serve breakfast and dinner in one of the
ground floor dining areas. The comprehensive access statement on their website should
answer any nagging questions.
Staff are local, with just a whisper of Geordie. Generous
with smiles, they know their stuff, be it wine or food. Dining room can get a
little noisy, but this is simply folk enjoying themselves.
Chef Simon Hicks believes in sourcing the very best
ingredients. Wild garlic and mushrooms foraged within a mile, the Abbey kitchen
garden is even nearer. Hubby’s crab started life in Portland, my steak was
Irish. As we tucked in silence fell but the food was singing. On to puds. I was
delighted with my raspberry bakewell, full of flavour, with the lightest, crispiest
pastry – no soggy bottoms allowed! Hubby was ecstatic at the chilled strawberry
cream. He reluctantly permitted me a taste – wow, I know my strawberries, but
this was another level. This recipe is from ‘Down Under’, we begged but it
remains secret. Guess that’s another reason to return.
Whether fishing, shooting, cycling or walking the hotel has local knowledge to give you the best of days. A few suggestions: Bowes Museum; Hadrian’s Wall; Durham Cathedral; High Force Waterfall
Kynren – Epic Tale of England. Spectacular live action
through 2,000 years of history. (Summer weekends only). If all you want is a quiet read, choose a
shady garden corner or fireside snuggle with tipple to match.
The hotel can facilitate helicopter landings but for
something larger, Newcastle is your nearest airport and rail station, less than
an hour by taxi. For 2 or 4 wheels, just bang the postcode in the sat nav and
enjoy the scenery. The Lord Crewe is perfect for short breaks or place to
overnight on the long drive to or from Scotland. The only problem will be tearing
yourself away the next morning.
Website, brochures, signage and welcome hint at a relaxed
atmosphere, of a company embracing humour and scorning the rulebook. It seems
wonderfully casual and there-in lies the alchemy, because amongst all of this,
someone, with an amazing eye for detail, has invisibly woven everything
together. The success of the whole Lord Crewe package is anything but
The Calcot Collection has 5 kids (aka gorgeous hotels). Now
I have the measure of this naughty northern brother I’d love to meet his 4
I’ve loved breaking new ground in Northumberland. Did I
mention the warm northern welcome or how stunning is the gritty landscape,
which creates the softest water in your reviving shower? Now please forget
everything. It’s my little secret!
To find out more, visit The Lord Crewe Arms.
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