Yasemen Kaner-White goes north!
Still enjoying staycations, we decided to head to Yorkshire. I’ve been twice before, once as a child ( which is a distant memory), the second time to a hotel with little travel either side. So this time I was determined to explore.
First stop was to stay at the Devonshire Arms in Skipton, a 17th Century countryside retreat set within 30,000 acres of rambling nature and with spectacular views of the famed Yorkshire Dales. Even better, mum could scoot in her electric wheelchair from the hotel straight into the countryside. It was easy to enter through a wide door into a gorgeous country bumpkin reception, equipped with a feature fireplace. Mum was delighted with her room, as were we. She was on the ground floor but still had immense views out onto the Italian Box Garden towards the Dales.
Dinner was at the 3 AA rosettes Burlington fine dining restaurant using products grown, reared and caught on the estate. We had the tasting menu. The stand-out dish was the flavoursome salt aged Yorkshire mutton loin, paired incredibly well with elements of turnip and punchy salsa verde, punctuated by salty anchovy. The cheese board also made a good impression with a shot of pear juice, plum tea-bread, lavish crackers, truffle and honey jelly and artisan cheeses from esteemed Courtyard Dairy in Settle, in north Yorkshire. The staff were very accommodating and left plenty of room next to the table in the spacious dining room for mum to leave her scooter and transfer to a comfortable chair. After a very good night’s sleep – mum couldn’t quite pull the heavy curtains and said the staff at reception were particularly warm and accommodating, pulling them for her – we went to breakfast. The staff had already allocated a table with space beside for her scooter, so it was seamless.
We headed to Dunesforde winery for a wine tasting. Parking outside, it was an easy scoot into the room set up for our tasting over-looking the vineyard, where they use four varieties selected for the north Yorkshire cooler climate – Bacchus, Solaris, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir Précoce. They explained 13 degrees is needed as an average temperature throughout the growing season, they have 13.1, so just made it. We learnt a lot, for example vines are best if they need to work harder, so it’s a plus if the land is a touch infertile. After the tasting, we were given a delicious platter consisting of local meats and cheeses including Richard III Wensleydale Cheese which follows the classic Wensleydale recipe but has less acidity than sometimes comes with Wensleydale cheese; it’s really creamy, with a delicate honey-like flavour, citrus notes and a moistness that compliments it very well. The name comes from King Richard III who spent a lot of time as a child in Wensleydale at Middleham Castle.
Our second night was at The Grand, and how very grand it appears as you drive up, park conveniently outside, and are met by a smartly dressed doorman – with a top hat to boot.
Mum’s room was very spacious and, just like the Devonshire, housed all the amenities you would expect in a disabled friendly room, from low sinks and dressing table with a mirror to reachable kettle and teabags.
The gorgeous open plan AA Rosette Rise Restaurant has an electric lift which is easy to scoot in, rising you to the restaurant floor. The Grand scotch egg, a duck egg, spiced apple ketchup and fennel salad was scrumptious; and for a main the Yorkshire venison, chestnut puree, blackberry gel, pickled blackberries, and purple sprouting broccoli was memorable.
The following day we requested breakfast downstairs in one of the well-appointed lounge area rooms and then went out to explore York. The doorman could not have been nicer, helping mum onto the electric lift to leave the hotel, to then scoot straight into town.
It was lunchtime and when in Yorkshire… have a Yorkshire pudding of course! We actually opted for a Yorkiepud wrap, a trade-marked invention by the York Roast company: essentially a giant Yorkshire pudding wrap with your choice of roast meat, roasted vegetables, stuffing, gravy & sauce (with extras including roast potatoes, mini-Yorkshire puddings and crackling_. We sat on the wall in the main square, sun shining on our backs, listening to a live musician.
Next, we headed to the well-known Bettys Tearoom, which has a ramp for wheelchairs and comfortable seating if you want to dismount your scooter. With an extensive tea menu and their famous Fat Rascals – tasty plump, fruity scones hand-decorated with a glacé cherry and almond face – we were sufficiently satiated, enjoying the ambience. But beware, there is often a queue.
The last excursion before heading home was the Chocolate Story Tour – which is fully accessible in a scooter or wheelchair, much to our delight. We started by going in the lift to the floor featuring a faux old fashioned sweet shop, where we learnt all kinds of things: from the original chocolate bar being a little bigger than a postage stamp, and in today’s money costing £4, to discovering the first Terry’s chocolate ‘orange’ was indeed an apple, made up of 4 segments only. York is known as the chocolate capital for the heavy weight chocolatiers that came from there, from Rowntree’s to Cravens to Terry’s. George Harris in 1935 came up with the Rowntree’s chocolate crisp, later known as Kit Kat, and the rest is history. We all made a chocolate lollipop garnishing with our toppings of choice and returned to the streets of York to carry on the adventure.
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