What the Press say...
Warrington Guardian, May 2014
If you were to tell someone 10 years ago you were going away on a foodie weekend, it would have conjured up images of a Little Chef breakfast at a service station or tea at the Berni Inn. But for two glorious days in April, we took to the Ribble Valley for a food lovers delight and we cannot wait to go back.
Around an hour’s drive from Warrington, the rolling fields to the north of Preston may not immediately grab you as a getaway destination. Yet it is crammed with all kinds of eaterie, from Michelin star fine dining to tasty delis and everything in between.
Our accommodation for our trip was to be Park House in the tiny village of Gisburn, ideally located on the A59 between Clitheroe and Skipton. And what a place this was. Run by Howard and Mary Williams, it is simply stunning. Overlooking an 11th century Norman church, it is hard to remember staying in somewhere as luxurious and relaxing. Each room is decorated differently, with
a free standing bath in our room as well as a sofa and an elegant mix of antiques. And it is a theme continued throughout the three storey town house, that has lots of small lounges and nooks and crannies to enjoy, as well as a small garden.
Indeed when we arrived, we were soon invited into the downstairs lounge, complete with roaring fire, for tea and cake. But aside from the surroundings, the real highlight of Park House was Howard and Mary themselves. You could not wish to meet nicer people, warm and welcoming without being pushy – they also offered a wealth of information about the area and other places to eat.
And that was one thing that impressed me incredibly about this part of Lancashire – just how proud people are of what they grow. Their bread for toast at the morning breakfast was from a neighbouring village, the sausages from a local butcher, the eggs from a nearby farm shop. All the traders support and promote each other. It was a theme that continued at neighbouring Italian La Locanda.
The two team up to provide visitors with a great deal, but this is no ordinary Italian. Don’t expect garlic bread, pizza and spaghetti bolognese - this is real Italian food – not stuff that came from Texas as owner Cinzia Bocchi told us as we settled down for dinner. After eating here, you won’t be hankering for those takeaways either. The menu is vast and unusual – pear wrapped in ham with a walnut and gorgonzola sauce is described as a house special, and it was an incredible starter. But I probably enjoyed the vast array of breads with olive oil, olives and balsamic even more.
As Cinzia, who has run the restaurant with chef husband Maurizio since 2002, explained, talking to guests about olive oil is as pleasing as seeing them enjoy the food. And like Mary and Howard, here are a couple dedicated to the area where they live. On chalkboards in the restaurant are details of what is in season, kale and eggs when we were in town, and details of where the food comes from. Fish from Burnley, meat from Bolton. It was a celebration of Lancashire and what it means to live there. It was also a celebration of Italy – my main course of a fish stew was glorious. Rich flavours and a sauce packed with mussels, clams squid and prawns. It was incredible. And all cooked from scratch while you wait.
Our trip also included a visit to the nearby village of Downham (a quaint place used for filming period dramas such as Whistle Down the Wind) with the acclaimed fish pub The Assheton Arms at its heart and lambs in the fields. While both Skipton and Clitheroe have plenty of individual, locally owned shops and delis to check out as well as castles. Although perhaps give Clitheroe a miss on a Sunday, we found a lot of it closed. Our final stop was a late lunch at Freemasons, an outstanding pub in the idyllic village of Wisewell. I have never had roast beef like it while my chocolate and pineapple dessert was a work of art – and flavour. We travelled home down the M6 with a full stomach but a promise to return. GARETH DUNNING
Best of Liverpool, April 2013
The Park House is a stunning Georgian property, and with views overlooking an 11th century Norman church, it has a real picture postcard beauty.
I MUST admit that prior to my recent trip to Lancashire, my only knowledge of this beautiful county involved Eccles cakes and people saying “ee by gum” a lot. But checking in at the Park House Boutique B&B in Gisburn, Lancashire, there wasn’t an Eccles cake in sight, and not once did the owners utter the Lancashire catchphrase either. My preconceptions (or should that be misconceptions?) were about to be shattered.
The Guardian, Friday 22nd February 2013
The immediate warm welcome from the hosts at this B&B in Gisburn, east Lancashire, sets the tone for a near-perfect stay.
At Park House, you get a proper welcome. On a bitterly cold January night, there is a fire glowing in the lounge grate, tea is on if you want a brew and, from Howard and Mary Williams, immediate warm familiarity. Owners dictate a B&B's atmosphere and here there is no diffidence, no standing on ceremony.
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