Where to stay
There is only one place for serious foodies to stay in Lancashire: Northcote.
Northcote is a multi-award winning hotel and Michelin starred restaurant in Lancashire, which has a reputation of being one of the finest restaurants in the UK. Headed by Nigel Haworth and Craig Bancroft who have run the business together since 1980. Situated in a beautifully renovated period house in Lancashire’s Ribble Valley, Northcote manages to offer a most peaceful, elegant country retreat with gorgeous rural views, just minutes from several major road and rail connections.
Every point of contact, before our visit, during and afterwards just oozed charm, helpfulness and real care and attention. The team behind Northcote is staggeringly good. From the Front of House team, to the kitchen staff, everyone we met and spoke to was supremely helpful, and utterly focused on doing anything possible to make guest visits spot on in every way. A real class act.
We arrived exhausted and late on a wet, dark night at the end of a stressful week. Having been hugely delayed due to horrendous traffic, we were stressed and tired. As we walked in through the door, we could feel ourselves relax.
Everything about Northcote just oozes class and luxury. We received the warmest welcome and were shown to our room. Northcote have just built a new super-luxurious second building adjacent to the main hotel, in which we stayed. Our room was enormous, with a huge bed, bathroom, seating area and balcony with amazing views across the Ribble Valley. In this building, there has been no compromise when it comes to luxury and space. Every detail has been considered, from the comfiest beds, to homemade ginger nut biscuits in the larder, to a stunning luxurious bathroom and even a Northcote teddy bear. My only disappointment was that I didn’t have 12 hours to luxuriate in bed. Next time, I stay, I will write off the morning to allow a long lie in, a wallow in the enormous bath and a long, indulgent breakfast.
Where to eat
Look no further than Northcote. Honestly and truly, the food here is some of the very best I’ve ever enjoyed, anywhere in the world.
The food at Northcote is absolutely sublime. It is exactly what one expects from a Michelin restaurant and more. The combination of flavours, textures and provenance of ingredients is exquisite and is truly the epitome of everything fine dining should aim to be. We enjoyed the five course Gourmet Menu on our visit, together with the perfectly matched wines, served in Riedel glasses.
We started with a glass of Louis Roederer champagne, Northcote’s house fizz, which was simply perfect; served at just the right temperature and clearly freshly opened. Do ensure you arrive with sufficient time to enjoy a pre-dinner drink or two in the bar. In summer months, you can sit outside on the new terrace and enjoy the views across the Ribble Valley.
Our first course was a delectable combination of sweet and savoury flavours and textures, with a 10-week aged slice of Hereford beef, cooked pink, and served with duck liver, sticky toasted black figs and a malt dressing. Paired with a fresh and cool Rose of Virginia rosé from the Barossa Valley, with a gorgeous strawberry flavour.
Next, followed a toasted West Coast scallop, served with sticky rice and toffied smoked eel, which was a most pleasing combination of toasted umami flavours. This was paired most interestingly with a Tokaji Furmint 2013, which was another standout pairing.
My favourite course came next; warm woodland mushrooms with goat’s milk and thyme ricotta, artichoke scraps and tiny balls of salted mead jelly, and shavings of black truffle. A truly exquisite combination, further enhanced by a glass of Jasnières Les Rosieres, Domaine de la Bellievière2014.
For our final savoury course, we enjoyed a delicious piece of Goosnargh duckling, paired with smoked Goosnargh duck ham, pulled leg and spicy cabbage and blood orange, matched with a Pinot Noir Moutere, Neudorf Vineyards, 2013.
And to finish, a truffled Tiramisu with banana split and salted caramel, paired with a sweet and rich Moscatel de Setúbal, Bacalhôa 2012.
Enraptured by our meal, we retired to the drawing room with a fresh mint tea to relax and enjoy the rest of our evening.
Breakfast the next morning was an equally delicious affair. The choice is superb, and I was sad not to have more room to try something more adventurous, but the simple boiled eggs and soldiers cooked to my liking at 3.5 minutes, with the soldiers made from homemade granary bread and the freshest local eggs and the most beautifully presented fruit salad was just what I fancied. Freshly ground coffees, loose-leaf teas and fresh juices made the perfect accompaniment. Superb.
Northcote is within very easy access of the M6 and M65 and major railway stations. It took us just 10 minutes in the car to get to the hotel from the M6.
Electric car users, such as myself, will be delighted to hear there are charge points at Northcote. Within minutes, we had our luggage taken up to our room most efficiently and my Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was taken off and plugged in to charge overnight. If only all hotels offered this service!
What to do in the area
Northcote provides a superb base for travelling around the local area. The Ribble Valley is stunningly beautiful and a much-overlooked area, which means it’s a great place to enjoy beautiful scenery, cosy local pubs and gorgeous walks without the crowds. Clitheroe is a historic town around 15 minutes drive away with a good selection of quality independent shops, including the excellent D. Byrne & Co. wine shop.
Further afield is Skipton, famous for its dramatic castle and as the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales National Park. And of course, being so close to the M6, Northcote is a particularly convenient stop off when driving North to South or vice versa, for lunch, dinner or to stay the night.
With thanks to Northcote for inviting us to visit. I am a Brand Ambassador for Mitsubishi Motors UK.