Wensleydale - fab food, boutique boudoirs and Fido friendly

by Dorne A Whale

Do you fancy a short break, or holiday in the Yorkshire Dales, staying in comfortable hotels, where your dog will be welcome too - then read on

Now that our family have grown up and left home, my husband and I like to take off on mini breaks whenever we can, with our retired greyhound in tow. One of our favourite haunts is the Yorkshire Dales. With its big skies and soul-lifting vistas, we are very much at home in this enchanting part of the country, and have spent many happy holidays, in Wensleydale, in particular.

Popular with walkers of all ages and abilities, this area of outstanding beauty is always busy with tourists, in all seasons and weather.

Where to stay

In the small village of West Witton, which is situated between Leyburn and Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales, on the A684 we found a seventeenth century inn, which has been transformed into a boutique hotel and seafood restaurant, The Wensleydale Heifer, West Witton, North Yorkshire. We noted that it was dog friendly, and were even more pleasantly surprised to be informed that we could choose any room we wanted – no specially allocated dog rooms here!


The Wensleydale Heifer has a choice of 13 rooms, all decorated to a very high standard and themed. Chocolate Heaven is, you’ve guessed it, all about chocolate, with chocolate mugs and “as much chocolate as you can eat” The Wensleydale junior suite, has a separate lounge area, two flat screen TVs and a complimentary decanter of sherry on your arrival. Painted in restful tones and attention to every detail, this was our choice. Prices for these rooms start at £120.00 per room for B&B, and we weren’t charged for our dog.

Four new rooms are de-luxe standard and are located in an adjacent building, alongside the main hotel. These rooms, which are also themed, include True Romantics and Night at the Movies and they cost  from £180.00 per room for B&B. 

An award-winning restaurant

The restaurant has received several coveted reviews, including AA Pub Guide and Food Guide 2010, Hardens Restaurant Guide 2010 and a mention in The Times and Guardian Weekend.


Efficient, friendly staff serve you immaculately presented dishes from around £8.00 for starters, including Greenland Prawn Cocktail and for non – seafood lovers Duck Confit Spring Rolls. Main meals start at around £14.75 for the Famous Fish and Chips (well recommended) Tuna Loin and Tiger Prawns will cost £18.75, or perhaps you will fancy Shoulder of Lamb at £16.75.[ As of summer 2010.]  Desserts too numerous to mention and rather naughty, complete your meal. You will eat in a busy, but relaxing and comfortable environment. And it is worth noting that if you have special dietary requirements these will also be catered for… nothing is too much trouble.

If the weather permits on your stay, you can also eat al fresco in the floodlit courtyard garden. Unfortunately on our visit it rained non- stop, but maybe we will be luckier on our next visit.

Dog-walks galore

The surrounding countryside affords plenty of dog-walks. Our favourite was a climb up from the village, via Chantry Bank, to Pen Hill. According to legend a giant roamed Pen Hill and the ruins of a Knights Templar chapel can be found one and a half miles away, leading from Chantry Bank (follow the sign post outside of caravan site). From the slopes of Pen Hill on a good day you can see most of Wensleydale.

Surrounding areas

When you have finished exploring the village a ten minute car journey to the east will take you to Leyburn, which is a popular village, served by a good selection of shops, pubs and places to eat. (Street market on Fridays.)

Nearby Middleham castle was the childhood home of Richard III and large sections of the castle remain today. Managed by English Heritage (www.english-heritage.org.uk) the castle opens daily, with the exception of Christmas and New Year. Admission for adults is £4.20, children £2.10 and concessions £3.60. Dogs on leads are permitted and disabled access is available. A small shop provides refreshment, whilst picnic tables provide a place to rest for a while, and soak up the very special atmosphere.

Still in Wensleydale, Hawes is another favourite spot of ours. This small market town (street market on Tuesdays) has long been popular with tourists and walkers. Once again, a varied selection of small shops will keep the shoppers amongst you busy, with plenty of ideas for gifts. There are several cafes and four pubs in the main market area of the village, so there is no shortage of places to re-charge your batteries, or just sit outside and people watch.

Another place to stay

The Stone House Hotel, Sedbusk, Hawes is in the hamlet of Sedbusk, which is a mile to the north of Hawes. We have stayed at this lovely hotel a couple of times, with our trusty greyhound of course, and have thoroughly enjoyed our stays on both occasions. Our well-appointed room had an adjoining private conservatory, with access to the gardens. Perfect for those early morning and night-times walkies! Dog blankets are provided for your pet’s use during your stay. The bathroom in our room had a large shower cubicle and fluffy towels. The four courses Table d’Hote Dinner (£33.00) is delicious and you can choose from various selections, which include meat and fish dishes daily. Vegetarian options are also available. A naughty dessert menu will no doubt tempt you with home-made crumbles, ice creams and tangy sorbets. Breakfast is just as fabulous and uses local produce as well.
Price, based on a two night stay in a conservatory room for two people was:
£ 95.00 - £104.35 – £100.00 (low and high tariffs, full details on website and details of special offers). There is no charge made for dogs.

Next to the hotel is The Ginger Tree, which is a health and beauty treatment room (details on hotel website), run by Kathy Scott. You can enjoy numerous pampering sessions in this peaceful and relaxing setting. I had an Indian Head Massage (40 minutes for £30.00) and came out positively floating!

England’s highest single-drop waterfall.

One mile away from the Stone House is Hardraw Force, which as a single drop waterfall (reputed to be somewhere in the region of one hundred feet), is England’s highest. About fifteen miles away is Semer Water, a stretch of water that is said to be forty five feet deep in places. Rumour has it that an old village lies beneath its surface. Just up the road from Sedbusk is the Buttertubs Pass; there are deep limestone caverns either sides of the pass, leading to the small villages of Thwaite and Muker in Swaledale. Throw a stone in to a cavern and see if you can hear it land!

There is no shortage of walks in this area, whether you prefer a day’s ramble or a gentle potter around the lanes and hills. This beautiful part of the Yorkshire Dales will charm you, no matter what time of the year you visit.

So, if you fancy taking Fido on holiday to the Yorkshire Dales why not give these enjoyable hotels and places a try and have a brilliant holiday to remember?