IT is cold, wet and miserable outside and with winter firmly settled in for the long haul, this time of year is perfect for a family-friendly getaway.

For myself, my wife and pooch, this involved a one night stay at the hidden gem that is The Wensleydale Heifer.

The Luxury hotel, restaurant and fish bar, which are two separate buildings standing just meters apart, is tucked away in the small village of West Witton, near Leyburn, and is surrounded by rolling countryside hills and stunning scenery.

Owned by Lewis and David Moss for the last 14 years, the business has been built up from a decrepit four bedroom house and a tired pub next door, into a unique, friendly and welcoming hotel and restaurant.

The pub has been insitu since the 17th Century and is now recommended in the Michelin Guide and has previously been named as an English AA Seafish Pub of the Year.

Originally a coaching house, it was turned into a pub and developed into what visitors see today by the Moss family.

Lewis Moss explained: “It was quite run down as pubs often were.

“We were looking for something unique in a nice location, and somewhere we can create a destination point.

“When you are operating in an area like this, our customers are travelling some distance to be with us.

“We decided to operate it primarily as a fish restaurant, which amazed quite a lot of people because we are 40 miles from the coast.

“We wanted to stand out against the crowd and as there wasn’t a specialist fish restaurant that was possibly the best way forward.

“As long as we could guarantee daily deliveries, we could operate a fish restaurant.”

The hotel followed a short time later when the home next door was put up for sale.

The family acquired it and set about turning it into the unique and quirky setting it is today.

It is an incredible turnaround from the building they bought, with the rooms each offering something different, from James Bond to shooting.

“We introduced the themed rooms to make something interesting and attractive for people to come and experience, and the food is absolutely vital,” added Mr Moss.

“People come here who want to eat and they stay, or they stay and then eat.

“The house next door came onto the market seven or eight years ago and that was a four bedroom house.

“We completely demolished it from cellar to roof, so on that side we could do exactly what we wanted, whereas we had to refurb and refit on this side.”

My wife and I, along with Rolo the chocolate Labrador, stayed in the Chocolate Heaven room.

It was certainly a chocolate-lover’s dream, as sweets, bars and nibbles seemingly lined every empty space.

The top drawers of our bedside tables were filled with chocolate bars while cocktail glasses were filled to the brim with a mix of Celebrations, Quality Street and Roses.

While all the chocolate catches the eye, it is the bathroom which stood out to me.

The en-suite is almost bigger than the room and comes fitted with a huge power-shower and large bath. And yes, there is more chocolate to be found on the shelves.

After marvelling at the room and unwrapping a few sweets, we were invited to taste some of the hotel’s specially made selections of gin.

This is another string to their bow, with the collection including a variety of delicious flavours.

After sampling gins we sat down to a meal and both enjoyed some of the best fish and chips we had ever tasted.

The fish comes with crackling Black Sheep beer batter, posh peas and tartar sauce.

The delightfully fresh fish was superb and the hand cut goose fat chips were just right.

We finished off by sharing a large ice cream, wary of the large amount of chocolate awaiting us back in the room.

After sleeping soundly in the King Size bed and Rolo enjoying his sleep on the bedding kindly provided by the hotel, we just about managed to finish a Full English the following morning.

It was the perfect day for a dog walk and we decided to visit the nearby Aysgarth Falls.

The picturesque, quiet village was ideal for a long stroll under a clear blue Autumnal sky.

Although the terrain was muddy at times, there are well-trodden public footpaths alongside the waterfall and parking nearby next to a welcoming cafe.

Our route took us alongside the River Ure, with Rolo off-lead for most of the time and loving life as we walked off our chocolate and took in the beautiful views of the wonderful area.