I HAVE always had a soft spot for Burnsall. One of the loveliest of the Wharfedale villages, it’s a place I’ve visited throughout my life.

It’s a quintessentially English beauty spot, perched on the River Wharfe, surrounded by dramatic fells.

When I was a child we’d head there to watch the fell runners scrambling up the rocky hills - the Burnsall Classic, one of the oldest fell races in the country - and I remember a bustling summer fete on the village green.

We spent Sunday afternoons walking along Burnsall’s riverside path, finding a spot to sit on the sandy bank with a flask of tea. We’d paddle in the river with fishing nets. My parents liked to swim there.

Years later, I came to Burnsall to interview Gary Barlow, when he launched his Calendar Girls musical with a preview performance at the village hall. The real life Calendar Girls - members of Rylstone and District WI, who famously bared all for a fundraising calendar that made global headlines and inspired a movie - come from this corner of the Dales.

I still like to walk along the river, often stopping off for a pint at the Red Lion - a much-loved Burnsall landmark.

The 16th century coaching inn, on the banks of the Wharfe, overlooking the five-arched bridge, has a bar serving award-winning ales, a restaurant serving seasonal local produce, a spacious outdoor seating area and a variety of bedrooms.

Earlier this year the Red Lion unveiled the transformation of its historic manor house, following a £850,000 renovation.

Eleven former bedrooms at the manor house have been converted into eight larger spaces; grand and plush in design while remaining sensitive to the historic fabric of the 1883 building. The Red Lion, part of the Daniel Thwaites group, worked with interior design firm Sacha Interiors on the five-month renovation.

There are three family rooms, each with two bedrooms, four signature doubles and one large feature room, with stunning river views. The refurbishment also involved re-wiring and re-plumbing the building, new windows, doors and internal walls, and re-pointing work. The vibe is “modern countryside aesthetic with a hint of Scandi”.

We stayed in a ground floor family suite, comprising two double bedrooms and a stylish bathroom. It was like being in an elegant country house.

Beautifully furnished, the bedrooms have a lovely rustic feel, with oak furniture, stylish window shutters and cosy cottage cushions and drapes.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Contemporary chic meets rustic charm Contemporary chic meets rustic charm (Image: Daniel Thwaites)

Splashes of vibrant colour give off contemporary chic, and there are some nice touches, not least the fluffy sheep tea cosy. The beautiful bathroom had a large shower and a range of toiletries from The White Company.

We enjoyed a drink in the cosy bar, serving a range of craft beers and heritage wines, before dining in the restaurant, which, like the bar, retains the rustic charm of the old inn. The menu blends home-cooked pub classics and specials with a twist. For starters we chose tasty, beautifully presented salmon gravlax and tempura king prawns, in a Thai style chilli sauce. Other choices included pea and broadbean scotch egg and chicken and duck liver pate.

For main courses we had pan-fried sea bass, with baby potatoes, king prawns, squid rings and a lightly curried veloute, and Homemade Pie of the Day - a delicious cheese pie, with mushy peas, chips and a jug of gravy. I find it hard to resist a cheese pie, and this one was heavenly.

Among the other main course were braised beef brisket, corn-fed chicken ballotine, Red Lion fish pie, roasted butternut squash risotto, steak and Thwaites ale pie, with home-made chips or creamy mash, and a Sunday roast dinner.

The staff were friendly and efficient, as they were throughout our stay, and made us feel very much at home.

We were spoilt for choice too with the dessert menu, offering delights such as sticky toffee pudding and seasonal fruit cheesecake. In the end we went for caramelised lemon tart, with raspberry sorbet and honey tuile, and dark chocolate brownie with caramel and honeycomb ice-cream. Sublime! There’s a mini dessert, option served with tea or coffee, which we probably should’ve had, if our eyes hadn’t been bigger than our stomachs.

After our three-course dinner, washed down with a bottle of red, we wandered around the village. It was so peaceful, with just the gentle baa of sheep in the fells. Among the cluster of pretty stone-built cottages is the village primary school, originally a grammar school founded in 1602, and the church, which has an 11th century font, with bird and animal carvings, and fragments of Anglo-Saxon sculptures.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Caramelised lemon tart with raspberry sorbetCaramelised lemon tart with raspberry sorbet (Image: Daniel Thwaites)The Red Lion iswell placed for exploring surrounding Dales villages. The Dales Way footpath runs through Burnsall to Grassington, via Loup Scar Gorge, and you can walk to Appletreewick, Barden Tower and Strid Wood on the Duke of Devonshire’s estate at Bolton Abbey.

Next morning we enjoyed a hearty vegetarian grill - other breakfast choices include oak smoked salmon, Eggs Florentine, and kippers - in a lovely wood panelled dining area, with magnificent oak beams.

All too soon it was time to leave. It was such a treat to stay at the Manor House - part of Burnsall history, taking The Red Lion hospitality tradition into the future.

* The Red Lion Inn and Manor House, Burnsall, Skipton. Call (01756) 634542 or visit redlion.co.uk