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Packing a punch
4:25pm Monday 18th October 2010 in Travel
As the Eurozone continues to prove prohibitive to British tourists, more and more holidaymakers are looking at domestic locations.
Obvious areas to travel to with the minimum of fuss for residents of West Yorkshire are The Lakes and The Dales.
Located in Low Row in Swaledale, one of the wider valleys in the Dales seven miles from Hawes and 11 miles from Richmond, The Punch Bowl Inn offers an ideal location for walking and touring, sited as it is on Alfred Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk and close to the 268-mile Pennine Way.
Swaledale takes its name from the Anglo-Saxon swale, which means swirling river, and the surrounding environs reflect this as a landscape of weather-chiselled features means you turn your head left and right while driving along the twisty rural lanes.
Named after a dog called Punch that used to sleep in a bowl by the bar, the building dates back to 1642 and had previously been a pub, tearoom, hotel and bunkhouse and has the most spectacular views of Whita Side and the Swaledale valley, full of squares of different shades of green hemmed in by Yorkshire stone walls, dotted with white blobs of sheep.
The Punch Bowl has only been opened in its current format for four years. Husband and wife Charles and Stacy Cody – who also own the older sister establishment The Charles Bathurst Inn in neighbouring Arkengarthdale – spent seven months renovating the property to get the right formula of modern comfort and luxury with tradition and original features. There are 11 individually designed bedrooms, each en-suite along with a guest lounge for residents.
The style of the rooms is simple luxury, a deep sumptuous mattress and a cavernous bath perfect for the weary walker or city dweller relaxing after a stressful week. There’s a two-word name that most women would die for after a day on the go – even Johnny Depp and George Clooney have no chance when every room can boast Molton Brown’s bathroom products.
The Punch Bowl Inn offers a fully restored 60-cover restaurant with oak bar designed by Robert Thompson’s craftsmen The Mouseman of Kilburn. One unique feature is the menu on a mirror, listing the food available that has been sourced using only locally-sourced seasonal produce. During our stay I tucked into a starter of smoked fish platter with horseradish cream (salmon, trout, mackerel and herring) and main of bacon joint with excellent homemade chutney, chunky chips and poached egg, while my wife had a starter of deep-fried potato skins with bacon, Wensleydale cheese and aioli (garlic mayonnaise) followed by wild mushroom and parsnip linguine.
With five real ales and an excellent wine list, a pleasant evening was enjoyed, with the tables outside offering not only spectacular views but the beautiful smells of the countryside on a dusky evening, the slight hint of sulphur from a peat fire at a neighbouring farmhouse reminiscent of rural Ireland.
As a great base for walkers, the Punch Bowl is happy to provide first-hand information on walks throughout Low Row and Swaledale, ranging from light strolls to circular day-long treks, they also offer a pre-packed lunch at a reasonable price, although you would do well to still be hungry after the huge farmhouse breakfast.
As the recession continues to bite, good value is key to most of us at the moment, and with breakfast included the tariff at The Punch Bowl is great value and a perfect place to explore the rest of the Dales.
l For further details, call 01748 86233, go to www.pbinn.couk or e-mail email@example.com.