Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

A Bit of Heaven on Earth

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

A Bit of Heaven on Earth

Article excerpt

Byline: By Brian Severs

If you're still a bit wary about flying or SARS and fancy a holiday at home this year - let me tell you about a little gem of a place and it's only three hours from Tyneside.

The privately-owned Gibbon Bridge Hotel in the Forest of Bowland at the heart of the Ribble Valley in Lancashire is simply unique.

Originally a large family farm, the building has been lovingly converted and extended by proprietor Janet Simpson and her mother Margaret.

The main part of the hotel - the bar restaurant with six bedrooms above - was transformed from the original barn and parts of a dismantled local gothic church were in integrated into the concept.

Now the hotel boasts 30 individually-designed bedrooms each of which is furnished and designed to have its own charm and character. Most of the rooms command dramatic views of the surrounding countryside and are of a split-level design and include whirlpool baths and four poster beds.

The hotel stands in 23 acres of land including a highly productive vegetable garden, lawns, shrubs and blooms and has earned the Britain in Bloom award for the seventh consecutive year. There is also a helicopter pad, tennis court, gym and beauty salon.

The hotel's restaurant overlooks the gardens and is renowned for both traditional and imaginative dishes many incorporating the home-grown veg and herbs from the hotels gardens. There is also an on-site bakery which provides all the hotel's bread and pastries and is open to the public.

Just to whet your appetite I started dinner with black pudding and apple filo parcel served with chutney and followed this with forest of Bowland rack of lamb and completed with a selection of local cheeses.

Across the table the ever-changing soup of the day, curried parsnip, brought gasps of delight and the king prawns in garlic butter on a bed of saffron rice stopped the conversation for 10 minutes as they were lovingly devoured, as was the sticky toffee pud and custard. …

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