Scarborough, known as the Queen of the Yorkshire coast, is a town with amazing Victorian buildings, indeed it has a spa, not, perhaps, to rival Bath, but still a spa where waters were once taken, in a seafront glass pavilion, which is now a theatre and conference complex. And of course as anywhere with good waves, there are surfers, in this instance, a couple in the highly commended class I suspect. Although the North Sea never gets much above perishing at any time of year. So brave souls! The pretty steep cliffside is sculpted with varied and imaginative botanical gardens, all well maintained and surprisingly sheltered.
However one of the great pleasures is that but a few minutes from Scarborough and its wide sandy bay, is the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. This fantastic amenity of almost 1500 square kilometres, stretching from Staithes in the north east to Ampleforth in the south west taking in Osmotherley too, is stunning, replete with flocks of sheep dotted about the wooded hillsides. It was the walking country of my grandparents, so names like Great Ayton and Thirsk, home to James Herriot, have a real resonance for me. We were marched across this landscape as children and loved every minute of it, a real contrast to our usual home counties’ life.
My dear driver had never been to Yorkshire, and this needed rectifying, so we headed north to stay at the Ox Pasture Hall Hotel just outside Scarborough, on the edge of the National Park. The hotel is set in seventeen acres of landscaped grounds, perfect for wedding photos, and has fabulous views from many of the rooms. It is imaginatively created from the original Ox Pasture Hall, a country farmhouse, with courtyard rooms, wheelchair accessible, having been added some years ago. A particular feature of the hotel is the barn, a venue designed for weddings which are exceptionally popular here. Hardly surprising, given the picturesque location!
We took afternoon tea in the bistro, a friendly alternative to the more formal dining room. As you might expect in Yorkshire, there was plenty to eat, good sandwiches and a wide selection of cakes, with a constant supply of tea. Exactly what was needed after a hike along the cliffs and indeed a real reviver for anyone spending time in the glorious outdoors. The hotel is pet friendly, a real plus for walkers who like to travel with their canine friends.
Suitably fortified, we were shown to our courtyard room to find the hotel had upgraded us to the honeymoon suite! How very kind, and a real taste of Yorkshire hospitality. The suite comprises a sitting room, bedroom and superb bathroom, larger than my entire University flat! With relaxing neutral decor, comfy sofas to lounge upon and windows looking straight out to the beautiful countryside, this could well be exactly what a newly married couple would need after a hard day’s wedding. The very spacious bathroom was built to luxuriate in, with his and hers wash basins, a powerful shower and deep bath. Good towels and bathrobes add to the luxurious feel. A well appointed bedroom completed the trio of rooms.
And so to dinner! The food at Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in the Courtyard Restaurant is very good indeed, as you would imagine from somewhere awarded 2-rosettes for culinary excellence and also recommended in the Michelin guide. French onion soup preceded a sumptuous pork loin for my dear driver and I feasted on parfait of duck liver followed by excellent baked cod, all with jus and beautifully presented, interesting vegetables. This is fine dining for sure and a real treat. Puddings are an absolute must, and were extremely more-ish, the lightest of lemon cheesecakes and a comforting apple with pear crumble. All enjoyed in a pleasantly lit room, with decent sized tables, good lighting and space to chat privately. I really dislike having to endure other people’s conversations when tables are squashed too closely together! The wine list is good, we ambled through a lively Malbec most happily.
We enjoyed an excellent night’s sleep, in a hugely comfortable bed and having stretched our legs a little, it was time for more food. There was a huge selection of cooked breakfasts on offer, we tucked into full English, which was more than ample as might be expected in this part of the world. In fact, mine lasted me well beyond lunch time despite a brisk coastal walk.
Our stay at Ox Pasture Hall Hotel was thoroughly enjoyable, I’d go back any day, given its location, friendly atmosphere, good service and delicious food. If you are planning a trip to Scarborough and the region, do go. And if you’ve a wedding in mind, the honeymoon suite is absolutely lovely.
Ox Pasture Hall Country House Hotel
North Yorkshire Moors National Park