The Devonshire Fell, Burnsall, Yorkshire Dales
is a luxurious 16-room hotel superbly situated high above the River Wharfe, at Burnsall in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. With stunning, sweeping views across the valley – which can be enjoyed from the dining room, gardens and many of the guest rooms – this is an elegant boutique hotel with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
The Devonshire Fell is part of the Bolton Abbey Estate – comprising 30,000 acres of moorland, woods and farmland. The Estate is the Yorkshire home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.
My first impressions on entering the hotel were of a cheerful, stylish space, full of colour and character – thanks to design input from the Duchess of Devonshire and interiors created by multi-award winning designer Rachel McLane.
There was a cheerful and friendly welcome, too – General Manager Jennifer Gleeson and the team work hard to ensure that guests have everything they need throughout their stay.
An unexpected and very welcome bonus was the complimentary admission card to Bolton Abbey that was handed to me on checking in. This gives guests the opportunity to explore Bolton Priory and the wonderful woodland walks and trails through Strid Wood.
Another nice surprise was that the card also offered complimentary admission to the Devonshire Spa at The Fell's sister hotel The Devonshire Arms, also at Bolton Abbey. And by happy coincidence, on a last-minute whim just before leaving home, I had packed my swimsuit, 'just in case'.
All the guest rooms at The Fell are individually designed, blending classic and contemporary features including brightly coloured accessories and printed headboards.
Each room is named after a local village. I stayed in Barden – a spacious, top-floor king room, with sloping ceilings, and wonderful views of the surrounding fells. It was a calming and tranquil room – the only evening sounds were the sheep grazing on the fellside and the distant call of a curlew.
There was a rather lovely tea tray provided in the room, featuring a huge range of teas – not just the usual English breakfast, but also Earl Grey and a good choice of herbal teas including blackcurrant and raspberry, peppermint, and lemon and ginger.
There was also a Kilner jar containing home-baked treats (shortbread one day, and flapjacks the next) and – oh joy! – real ground coffee and a cafétiere. So, all in all, this was probably the best welcome tray I'd ever seen in a hotel.
Nice little touches continued in the bathroom too, where I found a selection of gorgeously scented Temple Spa toiletries. These included La La Lagoon body wash, Good Hair Day shampoo and Peace Be Still soothing lotion – the latter was so good that I've since ordered a bottle.
The bathroom was modern and spotless, with bathtub, powerful shower, fluffy white towels and bathrobes.
Alongside these luxurious details, The Fell operates on impressive environmental policies. These include energy-saving, recycling and composting initiatives, and the use of local suppliers wherever possible. The hotel has recently introduced electric chargers for vehicles in the car park, and provides in-room drinking water in reusable glass water bottles, rather than disposable plastic ones.
The sourcing of local food not only makes good use of the superb produce available in the Yorkshire Dales, but also involves growing and harvesting fruit, vegetables and herbs in a kitchen garden at The Devonshire Arms.
Breakfast was excellent, with plenty of continental breakfast options offered in a help-yourself buffet. There were cereals, yoghurt, fruit juice, cold meats and cheeses, croissants and fresh breads. Guests are also offered a full Yorkshire breakfast cooked to order – you can choose from locally produced bacon, black pudding, sausage, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, hash browns and beans – all fresh, piping hot and beautifully presented.
Breakfast is served either in the dining room or the conservatory. Both areas have wonderful views across the valley.
Dinner in the hotel is highly recommended too. There's a two-course menu for £29, three courses for £35 – or you can order individual dishes from the lounge menu. I chose a delicious wild mushroom risotto that arrived colourfully adorned with edible flowers.
The hotel garden has lots of seating, with plenty of options for enjoying a drink in sunshine or shade – and more opportunities to enjoy that glorious view.
Guests are actively encouraged to leave their car in the car park once they arrive at The Fell – and getting out into the countryside is easy, with access to footpaths direct from the hotel. Information about cycle hire and walking trails is available at Reception.
The Dales Way runs through Burnsall village, and an easy one-mile riverside stroll along this long-distance footpath takes you to Hebden Suspension Bridge. Cross the river over the bouncy bridge, then re-cross over the adjacent stepping stones (cross with care, and only when the river level is low) before retracing your steps back to Burnsall.
The more energetic can continue onto Linton – a picture-postcard village with a village green and two ancient stone bridges over a babbling beck – or even head for the shops and cafés of Grassington.
The cheerful and colourful lounge and reception area; guest rooms are stylish, luxurious and individually designed
Drinking water is served in reusable glass bottles; the best welcome tray, with real coffee!
Wild mushroom risotto with edible flower garnish
Hebden Suspension Bridge, a short walk along the river; Linton village green
A day trip to Bolton Abbey is an essential excursion – and free parking with the complimentary card from The Devonshire Fell means you can explore Strid wood and the Priory with ease. There are enticing riverside walks through Strid Wood with plenty of paddling opportunities, a children's adventure trail, and the excellent Cavendish Pavillion café – which offers a 10 per cent discount to guests staying at The Fell.
The Devonshire Spa (complimentary entrance for The Fell guests) is also at Bolton Abbey, just across the road from the Devonshire Arms hotel. Housed in an ancient barn to create a peaceful, rustic atmosphere, the spa offers an indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi, steam room, and sauna. It's a wonderful place to relax, and soothe aching muscles, after a long hike or busy day sightseeing.
The Devonshire Fell is highly recommended for a luxurious stay amongst glorious scenery, with easy access to all that this beautiful region has to offer.
Bolton Priory; the bridge over the River Wharfe at Burnsall
Review by Penny Bunting