Fabulous short breaks in the Ribble Valley
PUBLISHED: 17:06 29 September 2020 | UPDATED: 12:19 01 October 2020
The Black Bull Inn and the Ribble Valley View Lodge Park in Old Langho join forces
If anything good has come out of the pandemic it’s that we’ve realised what holiday and relaxation riches sit on our collective doorstep. In Old Langho the beauty of the Ribble Valley and some great local facilities are drawing visitors local and national to have a meal, enjoy a break, and maybe soon arrange an event there.
The Black Bull Inn in the village is at the heart of all this. ‘The building was a coaching house as far back as 1555, so a welcome is pretty much built into the fabric,’ says Rebecca Govier, the inn’s co-owner with husband Jamie. They have overseen a major refurbishment to make the most of its historic character, and add contemporary comfort to both the pub and restaurant sections: there are now wood burning stoves for the chillier months; a stunning patio and beer garden for warmer times; luxurious furniture and clever lighting.
Along with such conventional fixtures and fittings the couple have adapted innovatively to the demands of the Covid-19 situation: ‘There’s a one-way system, and table-only service,’ says Rebecca. ‘And we were the first pub in the country to install a machine that scans your face to take your temperature as you enter, and provides hand-sanitisation. Guests tell us it’s reassuring.’
Adjacent to the pub is another element of the village’s hospitality infrastructure, Ribble Valley View Lodge Park, which opened 11 years ago and which Jamie and Rebecca work closely with.
‘We’re all working together in this area together to bring holiday makers into the Ribble Valley for short breaks, have events… It’s a cosy little leisure hub, and a really welcoming community. And we’re providing a massive boost to the local economy,’ she says.
‘Our lodge park is on our family farm,’ explains Robert Simpson, one of the third generation of his family to farm the land over the last 120 years. ‘It backs on to the Black Bull, and there’s a nice synergy with them – we have 29 luxury lodges on the park, people come from all over the country to stay here, and – inevitably – they spend quite a lot of their time at the inn enjoying a drink or a meal there – it almost works like a club house for our park!’ When he says they’re luxury lodges he is not exaggerating: some even have hot-tubs and wood-burners, and they are all very comfortably appointed.
With a feeling for the area that comes from the family being rooted in it, the Simpsons have done a fine job of integrating the lodges and the land. ‘It was a way of us diversifying from the dairy farm, and making use of the beautiful land we own in what is a spectacular part of the country,’ says Robert, who runs the lodge park with siblings Phil and Helen and cousin Ian. The family has run the farm for 120 years and have run Simpson Farm Dairies, delivering milk to local homes and businesses for 70 years. ‘People can stay in real luxury – the lodges are definitely high-end – and enjoy a break just in this area, or use it as a base to explore the wider Ribble Valley for its walks and its eateries – including of course the Black Bull that’s just a stroll away.’
It’s worth taking that stroll too, maybe working up an appetite on the way, with the Black Bull’s chef John Dawson having revamped the food offer to bring diners a great selection of classic British gastropub dishes, and some tasty Mediterranean and Asian touches. Slow-roasted belly pork with wilted greens and mustard mash, served with rich red wine gravy, looks just the thing to reward those returning from a long walk in the surrounding countryside, and the team tries to source as many of their ingredients as possible from the rich farmlands of the area.
Another way the inn and the lodge park hope soon to expand their collaboration is in hosting events, with boutique hotel The Avenue as potentially an additional part of the picture. Indeed there is something of a trial run on the cards for next year. ‘If circumstances allow we aim to hold my sister’s wedding here, with a big marquee for the guests,’ says Rebecca. ‘Though at the moment she is stuck in Australia! People will be able to have an event where they rent out lodges for the weekend or week, don’t need to go too far afield, and can really relax.’
Rebecca’s summary of what you can expect is very tempting. ‘Fabulous walks, stunning scenery, fantastic accommodation, great food and a superb pint. What more could you want?’
The Black Bull Inn, Old Langho Rd, Old Langho, Blackburn BB6 8AW
Ribble Valley View Lodges, Old Langho Rd, Blackburn BB6 8AW