Landmark Bainbridge North Yorkshire
Brightly coloured horse-drawn carts greet us in the tiny North yorkshire village of Bainbridge. There are ponies chomping on the grass and men, women and children are busying themselves on a warm afternoon. It must be an annual celebration of some kind, a fete with a difference.
But, on closer inspection, it becomes obvious that a horde of travellers has just arrived. They'll be happy enough in this village in the Dales - but not as happy as us, and we feel a touch guilty. It's their choice, of course, but I can't quite get them out of my mind as we check into the Yorebridge House, which describes itself as the county's 'finest, luxury boutique hotel', sitting unassumingly near the River Ure.
Impressive: The Yorebridge House Hotel lives up to its positive self-billing
Once upon a time, it belonged to a schoolmaster and before that it was a school. But, thankfully, there are few rules nowadays under the supervision of David and Charlotte Reilly, who took it over four years ago.
There are 11 rooms, each themed after a country. The Japanese room is called Nishiki, the American room is Greenwich and the French room is called Mougins. We're in Rahmoune, after a town in Morocco.
The bed has an intricate wooden headboard that used to be a window and the room is equipped with a hot tub, which more or less makes up for it backing on to the kitchen.
We are planning a long hike, but then a mist descends. 'i do hope you'll be careful, ' says the receptionist nervously, stopping short of asking for our mobile phone numbers, something that the hotel recommends in its directory for those unfamiliar with these wuthering heights.
Walking on the moors is what people do here. Gratifyingly, there is no spa in the hotel. you get your uplift from the great outdoors, with fishing and shooting on offer in season. Just make sure you get back in time for dinner.
James Fiske is the head chef, serving locally produced British nosh, with a gourmet flourish. Wensleydale beef with ravioli is a case in point. It's full of flavour and there's no skimping on the portions. As that great Yorkshireman, Geoffrey Boycott, would put it: 'That's some delivery.'
As the light fades, the couple on the next table take a break after their main courses to enjoy a stroll around the grounds, before returning to a plate of local cheeses and another couple of beakers of ruby-red wine. They get back just in time to witness a drama.
One of the managers has severed his finger on some glass and feels duty-bound to tell his guests that he's off to A&E.
We're off to bed. In the morning, the travellers have left with the mist. Just like that. They'll do well to find a more charming spot than this.
Yorebridge House Hotel