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Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa
1 night 2 persons from £353
The Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa, located in North Yorkshire, is a luxurious hotel that welcomes pets, including dogs. The hotel has a number of dog-friendly rooms available, as well as designated areas where you can take your furry friend for walks.
Dogfriendly Magazine Review
Read our comprehensive review of this listing printed in our bi-monthly magazine.
Name: Devonshire Fell and Devonshire Arms
Reviewers: Richard and Angie Aspinall
The Wharfe at Burnsall is already a tame river, wide and calm, stained with the peat from the hills and fells above, it has become a stately stretch as it passes under the splendid five-arched bridge which carries the road to Appletreewick as well as the 80-odd mile Dales Way, from Ilkley to Windermere. Part of the bridge dates back to the 17th century, making it quite a young whippersnapper in Burnsall, which has buildings dating back to the early 1600s and a 13th-century church.
Looking down upon, and in a commanding position over the village, the Devonshire Fell is a newcomer to the landscape. Built as a gentleman’s club for the mill owners of the lower Wharfe and Aire Valleys it is now a contemporary hotel, with great food, comfy rooms and a relaxed atmosphere.
The Yorkshire Dales is defined by the river valleys – the dales – that run through it. Each has its own character, with the northern dales perhaps a little wilder and the southerly dales closer to the once industrial towns of West Yorkshire and Lancashire being a little busier with visitors. Needless to say, cosy pubs, frequent tea rooms and quirky eateries are easily found in each small hamlet, keeping the walkers, nature watchers and history buffs fed and watered. Dog friendliness can’t be assumed, but in most cases, four paws are as welcome as two legs.
On arrival at the Devonshire Fell, Henry rather enjoyed exploring our room. A doggy welcome pack, including a rather splendid Devonshire Estates tennis ball, and his own four-poster bed kept him amused while we unpacked and plugged the car into one of the chargers provided for guest use. Once settled in we had a brief wander down to Burnsall to enjoy the river. Black-faced, Swaledale sheep, grazing continuously, skilfully kept us at a distance as we walked along the river bank. A few black and white oystercatchers were on the rough grazing over the river and a curlew, that odd-looking bird with its long, downcurved bill, called softly.
Our first visit was to the nearby Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway, just a short drive down the dale. The railway is, as you’d guess, a tourist attraction with special events, different dining specials and a whole range of family friendly and fun things todo. The dozen or so locomotives and fleet of historic wagons and carriages are all lovingly restored and the short journey along the line is a wonderful way to enjoy the scenery. It is also utterly charming, quirky, fascinating, and simply a must-do. Henry doesn’t necessarily ‘get’ heritage railways, but he was made welcome, and he loved watching the world go past as we slowly huffed and clanked our way through the afternoon.
We enjoyed a there-and-back-again journey along the line, thanks to a lovely little steam locomotive called Beatrice. The crew were kind enough to pose with Henry for us, which he took in his stride. I was concerned the noise of steam and whistle might upset him, but he was easily reassured with a biscuit from the nice man in the ticket office, that everything would be fine and he was going to continue having a great day.
Dinner at the Fell is always an experience. I particularly love the way you feel you can dress up and get the cufflinks out, or simply turn up in your stocking-feet and jumper, with your dirty walking boots left at the door; it’s that kind of place. I started with a gin and tonic (Mason’s by the way, made in Yorkshire). Our main courses were a chicken supreme with an Indian twist, and gnocchi with creamy wild mushrooms, followed by sticky toffee puddings.
The next morning after a light breakfast of pastries and eggs Florentine, we moved down the dale to the Devonshire Arms. The Fell and the Devonshire Arms are part of the Devonshire Estate along with the famous Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. The estate is a big landowner in these parts, with farming and forestry interests as well as eateries and visitor attractions for the walker and tourist. As you pass down the dale, you meet the impressive, but roofless Barden Tower. The present structure dates back to the late 1400s, built as a hunting lodge (one of six apparently) for the Clifford family, who also had the castle in nearby Skipton built. Barden Tower is just one of the dale’s attractions and a few miles beyond, the land rises a little and you come across a narrowing that forms a constriction in the river. The formerly well-mannered Wharfe is constrained and channelled by the local geography, confining it into a steep-sided rocky gorge, heavily wooded with oak and ash trees clad in rich green moss. This is Strid Woods, named for the infamous and deadly Strid. The entire flow of the Wharfe, is channelled through a resistant sandstone to a width that can technically be jumped or ‘stride’ across. This isn’t the true etymology, but that’s what it has become known as. In case anyone is in doubt: do not ‘stride’ across the Strid!
The problem is the rock is slippy and while the Strid’s width is limited, its dark depths are many feet deep. The stone sides of the Strid are undercut and even when the flow is at a summer low, folks have died here, making it either a gruesome tourist attraction or a rather lovely waterfall, depending on how much you know. The last deaths were reportedly those of a honeymooning couple in 1998, swept to their death in a summer flood, their bodies were found many miles downstream. I shouldn’t need to tell you to keep dogs on leads throughout. Past this cataract, in the course of a minute’s walk the Wharfe is unrestrained once more. It breathes a ‘riverly’ sigh and spreads out into middle age as it passes through woodland before gently meandering around one of Yorkshire’s finest ruins, Bolton Abbey. Dippers and grey wagtails can be spotted along the bank, a streak of azure marking the passage of a kingfisher.
Bolton Abbey is one of the ruined abbeys of the north of England. Technically a priory, it was begun in 1154 and ‘ceased trading’ in 1540, with the dissolution of the monasteries. Parts of the structure are still usable, and the nave forms the bulk of The Priory Church of St Mary and St Cuthbert. The ruined windows of the abbey lend it an iconic quality and as you walk past, along a section of the Dales Way, back towards the Strid, you can enjoy the riverbanks. One stretch in the abbey’s shadow forms a beach with some great stones for skimming. The Wharfe here is so different to the turmoil upstream and there’s no problem with taking a paddle, or if you’re a hardy sort, a swim.
Much fun is to be had at the famous stepping stones, where 60 squared-off rocks form a way across the river. Naturally, and sensibly, dogs seemingly regard the stepping stones as pointless – there’s a bridge anyway – but much fun can be had sitting with a picnic watching a few hapless folk try to cross, with predictable results. Sheep are grazed across the estate, so keep dogs on leads. Over the centuries a community grew up around the abbey and many of these buildings now serve the visitor. I particularly like the Tea Cottage, with its low ceilings and woodburning fire in winter. It also has a small, but charming garden with views over the abbey and the river. Dogs are not only welcome but encouraged.
Before going on to the Devonshire Fell, we took a trip to Grassington. This is a smart little town, with outdoor pursuit shops, tea rooms, pubs, gift shops and so forth. I found a particularly good cup of coffee to be had at CoffeEco at the bottom of the main street and one of the first places you’ll see after the short stroll from the National Park Car Park and Visitor Centre. James Herriot fans might recognise some of Grassington – or Darrowby if you prefer – from the recent adaptation of All Creatures Great and Small.
After Grassington it was time to check into the Devonshire Arms. Angie quickly nipped off to the nearby spa for a massage and some relaxation, while Henry and I unpacked and explored a little. This magazine being for dog owners, we won’t mention the spa too much, but I’m reliably informed it was excellent. The Devonshire Arms has always been exceptionally dog friendly, but has, if anything, become more so since the last time we stayed. Everyone on the staff seems to have a treat available and Henry found himself ‘giving paw’ for a biscuit far more regularly than usual. We booked ourselves into the Brasserie for later on, knowing Henry would be able to join us.
Our room – The Artist’s Room – was splendid, with a luxurious ensuite bathroom for us and more treats and another four-poster bed for Henry. I should add that from the hotel you can walk to the Wharfe and join the footpaths that take you directly upriver to the Strid and the abbey. You won’t need to walk along the roads at all if you don’t wish to, which is always welcome. Reception is welcoming of muddy boots and wet gear. There’s also a warm-water bath and shower I didn’t have the heart to turn it on. He’s not a dog who enjoys a bath and I didn’t feel his day should be ruined.
After nearly falling asleep, we had a quick walk before dinner. We both resisted starters and I dived straight into a juicy burger of local beef, before tucking into a tart made with local rhubarb. Angie had sea bass and then ate half my pudding. The wine cellar is extensive, with wide availability by the glass and a maître de who will pair your menu choices for you. I had a fruity chianti, which is not my normal tipple, but it really worked.
It had been several years since I’d visited the dales. Worried perhaps I might feel homesick, I’d held off from heading south from our home in the Scottish Borders, preferring to head north and west to explore our new country. Fortunately, not only did Henry seem to approve of Yorkshire, but I was happy to head home after such a short visit, knowing that some of my favourite places were still getting along fine without me and it was okay to pop back whenever I wanted.
Devonshire Fell and Devonshire Arms, review by Richard and Angie Aspinall and appears in DogFriendly magazine issue 80. For more information on the DogFriendly magazine visit https://www.dogfriendly.co.uk/magazine
Listing Updated: 28/11/2023
Changes to businesses do occur. Please do double check this business is still dog friendly before you make a booking
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