Claire pulls on her experience of travelling around the country shooting with her working cocker spaniel Lola to recommend some of the best ‘gundog-friendly’ stays in the North of England. All the pubs and hotels chosen offer something a little extra for your four-legged friend and the sporting enthusiast. What’s not to love writing about guns and shooting? Keep your eyes peeled for Claire’s next dog-friendly stays roundup – covering Scotland – which is due to be released next month.
The Cookie Jar, Northumberland – Starting from £175.00 B&B
Alnwick has everything covered, from pets to parapets: it is home to the magnificent Alnwick Castle, which happens to be opposite an unmissable dog-friendly stay.
The Cookie Jar allows dogs in each of its rooms, with just one exception of public areas, and for gundogs with burr-enmeshed tails who prefer to kip outside, they have hostelry in the form of five custom-built kennels. Owner, Debbie Cook, says: “We welcome all well-behaved dogs at the Cookie Jar, in fact, all our staff are dog mad… I think sometimes they are given a bigger welcome than their owners!”
Sporting guests are also well looked after; a drying room, two-gun cabinet in each room and all the space in the world for lively shoot dinners are just some of the perks. You can also expect a cup of tea and a slice of cake on return from your day, or if you would prefer, a large dram of whiskey! Outside of the shooting season, you can explore a superb selection of walks on nearby dog-friendly beaches, and Beanley and Hepburn Woods.
The Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa, North Yorkshire – Starting from £84.50 B&B
The Devonshire Arms Hotel and Spa also doubles as a canine country escape. Every single room is dog-friendly (£10 surcharge), In fact, doggy guests here can retire for the night in a luxurious four-poster dog bed in selected rooms. Practical assistance is also on hand, with washing areas, spare bowls, leads, waste bags and thoughtfully placed bins to keep their beautifully maintained grounds just as you found them. “A warm welcome awaits you and your four-legged friends, from our pet-sitting service and dedicated dog lounge, to the miles of off-road walks on the doorstep.”
Being on the fringe of the Dales, The Devonshire has 80 miles of footpaths and 30,000 acres of estate to explore with your dog. This area of the Dales is home to both the revered Bolton Abbey Shoot and a winding stretch of Wharfe. This means that whether it’s rod, rifle, grouse or grayling – The Devonshire are more than equipped to look after the sporting guest’s needs, with private dining rooms, gun cabinets and a hotel gun safe. The shoot dinner is in good hands too, their Burlington Restaurant is headed by award-winning Chef, Peter Howarth, and promises seasonal produce sourced from the surrounding estate.
The Talbot Inn, North Yorkshire – Starting from £100 – £120 B&B (dependent on season)
The North Yorkshire market town of Malton was awarded ‘UK’s Most Dog-Friendly Town’ award at the 2018 Dog-Friendly Awards. Many of the local shops and cafes welcome dogs and there is an abundance of circular dog walks in the area. It is no surprise then, that the local folks’ favourite pub offers the same hospitality.
All rooms at this former 17th-century coaching inn are dog-friendly, and are also free to roam other areas of The Talbot: “Dogs are allowed in all the public areas including the bar and Snug (except the restaurant), so you can enjoy the fabulous food the Talbot has to offer. This is charged at a rate of £10.00 per room stay, payable on departure. This includes a dog bed, bowl and treats and deep-cleaning.”
Malton crowns itself as “Yorkshire’s Food Capital”, and food cooked at The Talbot reflects this by serving local produce, sourced from the artisans in the Talbot’s old stable yard across the road.
It’s not just food the Malton is known for, the area between Malton, Hull and Whitby is something of a mecca for those wishing to have a crack at some of Yorkshire’s most testing, high pheasant. The Talbot has excellent links with these shoots, not least the Raisthorpe Manor Shoot who offer both simulated and game days throughout the season on their 1000-acre estate. The Talbot’s 26 bedrooms is more than enough space for your shoot team, with access to a gun room with 24 gun safes, a drying room, a boot drying rack and an early breakfast by prior arrangement.
The Rose & Crown, Co. Durham – Starting from £120 B&B
Dogs who stay at the Rose & Crown are treated with celebrity status; their website has ‘doggy wall of fame’ which immortalises some of the dogs that have left their paw prints there. In fact, the owners ensure that every aspect of your dog’s happiness is looked after: “Dogs are very welcome and an integral part of what the Rose & Crown is about. My wife and I have two dogs – a yellow Lab called Perdy and a ginger Jack Russell called Mabel who is often at the Rose & Crown loitering around the dog treat jar in the bar!”
12 of their beautifully decorated 14 rooms are dog-friendly and include some complimentary ‘Welly-bix’ treats which are made locally in the village. Having your companion by your side at mealtimes isn’t an issue either as breakfast, lunch and dinner can be enjoyed in the cosy bar, complete with a roaring fire and flagstone floors. The only exception is the restaurant.
There’s no shortage of things to do nearby either, The Rose & Crown is just half a mile from the river and is on the doorstep of some fantastic Northern Dales walks. Although, if you would like to explore the area in style, an Aston Martin and Mercedes Benz convertibles are available for hire which can accommodate a small/medium size dog. On return for supper, you will be greeted with a seasonal speciality, such as their famous venison pie, which uses venison meat from nearby the nearby Raby Estate.
The Black Bull, Cumbria – Starting from £125 (£112.50 single)
Conveniently nestled in the Yorkshire Dales, and the edge of The Lake District, The Black Bull offers the choice between two Great British countryside retreats – but it gets better. Nearby driven shooting on the Dales is aplenty, and a confluence of four rivers meet at the village to set the stage for some excellent fishing opportunities; daily and weekly tickets can be purchased to fish brown trout, sea trout and salmon on the Lune and Rawthay. This is serious paddle and walkies territory too.
For £25, your dog can stay in one of three beautifully-decorated rooms and are spoilt with dog beds, bowls, biscuits, an area to wash your dogs and washing/drying facilities for the dog can’t resist rolling in a quagmire. The team here seem to describe their offering as; “Just right, and not too fussy. We have dogs of our own who are part of our family so we know where the balance should be.”
Your furry companion is also allowed by your side in public areas – whether that’s enjoying a glass of red from their extensive wine list in the bar, which is very popular with shooting parties (as you can imagine) or having a bite to eat from their gastronomically creative menu in the dining room. The food here is field-to-fork, offering only what is seasonally available. This comes to the sheer delight of our struggling red squirrel, as local conservation efforts to keep the local grey squirrel population means they are a regular fixture on the menu.
Solberge Hall, North Yorkshire – Starting from £95 B&B
Solberge Hall is a beautiful Georgian Manor House retreat – snugly set between the Yorkshire Dales and the Vale of York. The surrounding area was once the home of famous vet and author, James Herriott. ‘’If Only They Could Talk’ is one of his greatest works and is also what you will be wondering about your dog as they gorge on the breakfast sausage cooked especially for them, which is included in Solberge Hall’s £10 dog surcharge (maximum of two dogs per room and subject to availability). Dogs can stay in two of their dedicated ground floor rooms, which makes those calls to nature that bit more convenient. Their menu promises the ‘Best of Yorkshire’, and showcases an innovative selection of locally sourced and seasonally available dishes.
Swinton Park Hotel, North Yorkshire – starting from £195 B&B
Part of the Swinton Estate, this castle-cum-hotel possesses all the grandeur and elegance that you would expect from an aristocratic ancestral home and is the centrepiece of one of the most revered driven pheasant shoots in the UK. It is said that when the Cunliffe-Lister family acquired Swinton in the 1880s, it was one of two premier sporting estates for sale, the other being Sandringham. The visiting Royal Family decided the pheasants were too high at Swinton, choosing Sandringham instead! Since then Swinton has enjoyed a legendary reputation for both sport and hospitality. As they do for the deep valleys, guns also make the pilgrimage to the estate’s heather moorland for their legendary walked-up or driven grouse days.
Five of their spacious, en-suite bedrooms are dog-friendly (for a £25 surcharge) and have a distinctly contemporary yet historic aesthetic, granting you and your dog a fittingly regal stay. As for the rest of the hotel, dogs are permitted in the Morning Room, Lower Hall, Billiards Room (ideal for post-shoot drinks) and Terrace Bar. For those lucky enough to have a day on peg here, there is a secure gun safe and gun cleaning equipment available. The spoils of the day are often on the menu here, making for seasonal suppers of locally foraged trout and game.
George & Dragon, Cumbria – Starting from £100 B&B
Those from the Lakes, or who have visited, will tell you of the unmatched beauty that the fells, brooks and lakes that shape this beautiful county. They may also tell you to pack a raincoat, as its position on the north-west coast and mountainous terrain make it the wettest part of England. With that in mind, where else would you rather be than a cosy, Cumbrian local where you and your dog can dry off by the crackling fire?
The George & Dragon is very much defined by its connections with the 800-year-old family estate; they grow and rear much of their own produce including Lowther shorthorn beef, goat, pork and venison. All of which is transformed into delicious examples of seasonal, country cooking – which has seen them win a plethora of awards. The estate is also home to Lowther Castle, the backdrop to the hugely popular annual country fair.
The owners have several dogs, including a fox-red lab gundog, three Patterdale Terriers and a Jack Russell, all of whom are often seen around the inn. They said: “The George and Dragon provide the perfect getaway with your dog(s). Cumbria as a whole is very dog-friendly, being a county of dog lovers!” This claim certainly rang true when they told me about the extras they provide for staying pets. Up to three dogs can stay (£10 surcharge) and will receive a doggy welcome pack, which includes a treat, a map of local walks and poo bags. They also have a communal dog bed in the bar and dog blankets, and also politely ask that dogs are permitted in all the bedrooms and the bar, but not in the restaurant or on the furniture.