As some of you know, due to COVID, I decided to take a stay-cation in the UK traveling around the North of England and visiting some stunning places during my journey. Whilst hiking in the Yorkshire Dales with my husband, we stayed for at The Black Bull – a former 17th century coaching inn. Its owners – Nina Matsunaga and James Ratcliffe moved from Manchester to Sedbergh in 2014 and opened the Three Hares – a popular local cafe and deli located across the street which won a host of accolades and appeared in the Good Food Guide. In 2016, they have embarked on another project and decided to transform and develop The Black Bull.
The Black Bull Coaching Inn is located in Cumbria, in the picturesque village of Sedbergh which is one of the UK’s most famous book towns. It sits within the Yorkshire Dales National Park, at the foot of the splendid Howgill Fells and James refers to Sedbergh as the neck of Britain – Cheshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Durham, Northumberland and Cumbria. He is right as visitors can easily reach these destinations whilst experiencing this interesting town and its surroundings at the same time.
James, Nina and Ernest are the family behind The Black Bull and as soon as you enter you get that vibe that you are visiting your relatives or friends which you haven’t seen for a while. Everyone is super friendly and makes you feel relaxed and welcomed.
After transforming The Black Bull, the Couple opened an 18-bedroom hotel with a spacious dining room and bar. All rooms are named after local fells – we stayed in room 11 – Crook. Our room was spacious and its decor was influenced by Japanese design combined with using local designers who provided some accessories such as Herdwick and Rough Fell carpets and blankets, mugs that were hand-made by local artist Rebecca Callis and evocative photography of the surrounding area by Rob Whitrow.
Most importantly our room provided the homely comforts you require whilst being away from home – tea & coffee making facilities, homemade cookies, dressing table and a very comfortable bed to sleep in.
Our en-suite bathroom had a modern decor with see-through glass-walled design however if baring it all in front of your travel companion is too much then you are always able to pull a privacy curtain across. In addition to a nice open shower there was also a bath available to relax in after a whole day of hiking. Soft towels and a selection of toiletries from Sedbergh Soap Company were provided.
I always like trying the restaurants in the establishments we visit. After reading about Nina’s heritage and the culinary awards she has won, I booked a table for a dinner at The Black Bull.
The menu is based on the best British, European and Asian-inspired dishes. Sourcing local products and establishing long-lasting relationships with the suppliers are important to the Owners and this reflects in the menus which change daily in order to use the best ingredients available at any given time. The wine list is congruent with the menu.
Our dinner was the one of the best meals we’ve had whilst in the Yorkshire Dales. Let me tell you about it and the dishes we had…
To start with I had some lobster gratinee with summer vegetables. My husband had some wood pigeon with blackberry and cobnut. Both dishes were tasty and presented beautifully.
For my main, I decided to have some Hereford beef fillet, brisket accommodated by some hokkaido squash and wild garlic. My husband had wild Lakeland venison wellington with some pickled walnut and spinach. We finished both dishes in no time.
Sticky toffee pudding is always my choice if it’s on the menu so it was not a surprise that I had it this time. My husband decided to have a cheeseboard. We both loved our choices and once again cleared our plates showing how we enjoyed the meal.
To sum up, The Black Bull offers a perfect base from where you can experience the Yorkshire Dales. This relaxed yet luxurious coaching inn would be a perfect accommodation for anyone seeking to experience the English countryside and tranquility of Sedbergh. Whether you are thinking about a hiking break or a romantic escape with your loved one – I am sure that you’ll enjoying staying here as much as both myself and my husband did. You definitely need to experience their restaurant too as both food and service were faultless. Do remember to book it in advance though as it was fully booked on Wednesday evening when we visited as due to COVID restrictions there are less tables available.
For more information and to book visit:
The Black Bull,
44 Main Street,
Hope you enjoyed reading this review!