The Gibbon Bridge Hotel & Restaurant is located on the edge of the charming village of Chipping in the picturesque Forest of Bowland, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty within the Ribble Valley, Lancashire. The hotel is set in 23 acres of beautiful gardens in a secluded position yet is easily accessible to the motorway network being only 10 miles from Junction 31A of the M6 and 15 miles from Junction 7 of the M65. The delightful market town of Clitheroe is just a 20 minute drive with its own station and on the Ribble Valley rail line connecting to Manchester.
Arrival and Check-in:
We arrived at the hotel late afternoon, leaving the car in one of its two large parking areas. On arrival at reception we were greeted by a helpful member of staff who welcomed us to the Gibbon Bridge, checked us in promptly and enquired if we would like a table reserving in the hotel’s restaurant for dinner.
The hotel has 30 rooms, the majority located in a separate building just a few steps from the reception area. We had arranged to stay in one of the hotel’s split-level suites, each of them with its own lounge and separate bedroom. Our room, the Staple Oak suite was extremely spacious with a feature fireplace and wood burning stove, red leather sofas, oak dining table and matching sideboard. The suite was elegantly decorated in shades of red, green and gold with a glass paned door leading out to a secluded private garden with table and chairs.
To one side of the sitting room was a large bathroom with whirlpool bath, luxurious Gilchrist & Soames toiletries, dressing gowns and a pile of lovely thick, soft towels. A well stocked hospitality tray with home made biscuits was laid out ready to use so we settled in with a pot of tea whilst taking a look at the hotel’s useful guide of suggested things to see and do in the area.
The sumptuous decorative theme continued upstairs to the bedroom with a large Renaissance styled bed taking centre stage. There was also a dressing table with a pair of matching stools, a second red leather sofa and an additional large television to the one downstairs.
I loved the walk-in dressing room/wardrobe with more than enough storage space even for guests like me, who find it impossible to travel lightly. To complete the picture in one corner of the room there was a small en-suite WC and ample wall sockets and USB points throughout the suite for overnight charging of our numerous devices. Wi-Fi was strong throughout the hotel and we only needed to connect once during our stay for continuous use.
The restaurant extends through into the conservatory with delightful views of the beautiful gardens and the rolling fells of the Forest of Bowland through its floor to ceiling windows.
It’s accessed through a cosy bar, perfect for pre-dinner drinks whilst perusing the menu. Starched white tablecloths and vases of fresh flowers picked from the garden adorn the tables. Service is attentive but informal with friendly waiters and waitresses offering helpful suggestions from both the menu and wine list.
Everything is cooked to order and locally sourced with vegetables and herbs coming straight from the kitchen garden with other produce supplied from local farms and dairies. Dinner is priced at £30 for three courses from the a la carte menu including some daily specials. I’d heard that people come from far and wide to enjoy a meal here and I’m not surprised as it’s fine dining at its best, but at a very reasonable price.
Our starters of Twice Baked Cheese Soufflé and Beetroot Cured Salmon followed by mains of Fillet of Hake wrapped in a herb mousse and Pork Fillet in a cider sauce with crispy crackling and spring onion mash were beautifully presented and tasted delectable too. We couldn’t resist a dessert and my Creme Brûlée with its creamy custard filling and caramelised sugar topping was crisped to perfection. Each spoonful of the sunken chocolate gateau oozing with a rich sauce was also being savoured by my guest across the table.
Breakfast is served between 8.00 and 9.30 each morning with freshly baked bread from the hotel’s own in-house bakery. From a buffet selection we started with fresh fruit and yoghurt before moving on to an expertly cooked breakfast, toast, homemade marmalade and jam. It was so pleasing to be asked when we preferred our toast to be served as it invariably arrives too early and has gone cold by the time we are ready to eat it. A selection of teas and coffees are available and our barista style cappuccinos helped to bring us to life for the day ahead.
In addition to the restaurant and lounge bar the hotel has numerous rooms of various sizes available for small intimate gatherings, meetings and conferences. For those wishing to arrive in style there is also a helipad in the hotel grounds.
The award winning gardens feature ponds, nature walks and several secluded al fresco dining areas suitable for private parties with their own bars, outdoor kitchens and pizza ovens.
The Gibbon Bridge hotel is licensed for weddings with an attractive bandstand and delightful gardens creating an idyllic setting for summer nuptials. During the rest of the year or when the weather isn’t at its best the light and airy Orangery is a fabulous alternative.
Out and About:
This beautiful part of East Lancashire known as the Ribble Valley is famous for its scenery, historic landmarks and locally sourced food. The Gibbon Bridge is an ideal base for touring the area with distances to all places of interest being relatively short.
I suggest starting with a visit to the attractive town of Clitheroe to explore its castle and for a wander along the bustling high street. Make sure you include a visit to Holmes Mill on Greenacre Street.
Entrepreneur James Warburton converted the town’s Grade II listed former textiles mill into a tastefully renovated hotel, brewery, beer hall, food hall, cafe and restaurant. It’s a wonderful celebration of all things Lancashire and the perfect place for a bite to eat.
Take a scenic drive to the summit of Jeffrey Hill (also known as Longridge Fell) which rises to 1148ft (350m). From the small car park, enjoy a walk taking in the breathtaking views down to the Vale of Chipping and across the fells of the Forest of Bowland.
Explore Browsholme Hall, a Grade I listed historic house set within the Forest of Bowland. It’s approached by a sweeping driveway and surrounded by extensive gardens and parkland. Standard admission is £10 for a one hour guided tour. The house was built in 1507 by Edmund Parker and has been occupied continuously by 16 generations of the same family.
Rent a bike from Ribble Valley E-Bikes and let the bike take the strain up the steep hills of the Forest of Bowland. They are based in Dunsop Bridge, a picture perfect village famous for being the geographical centre of the United Kingdom. It’s also home to the gorgeous Puddleducks Tea Room, a great spot for a well earned drink and slice of cake after cycling.
Other ideas include spending time at the Bowland Wild Boar Park, walking up Pendle Hill and exploring the pretty villages of Downham, Waddington and Hurst Green, the latter being home to the famous Catholic boarding school, Stonyhurst College.
A stay at the luxurious Gibbon Bridge Hotel was a perfect way to unwind and to soak up the local atmosphere. This charming, privately owned hotel offers a warm welcome with the staff genuinely pleased to help in any way they can. The hotel offers the best of both worlds with its peaceful, secluded setting yet is just a few minutes drive from places of interest.
The room, service and dining all exceeded expectations and I can understand why a local farmer told us that for a family celebration he wouldn’t consider anywhere else. We didn’t get an opportunity to meet the chef, but hat’s off to him for his excellent cuisine, surely more richly deserved accolades will be arriving shortly.
Details: Gibbon Bridge Hotel & Restaurant Green Lane, Chipping, Lancashire PR3 2TQ
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