The Cow at Dalbury Lees is a luxury boutique inn nestled along a leafy lane in the rural and tranquil Derbyshire countryside. Although tucked away, it’s only six miles from Derby and the M1 motorway making it easily accessible from most parts of the country.
Arrival and check-in:
The country inn has its own car park and after finding a space we entered the door and received the warmest of welcomes with its wood burning stoves casting a warm glow across the cosy bar. Check-in was at one corner of the bar and well organised as we were being shown the way to our room without delay.
Our ground floor room blew me away as soon as I walked through the door. From its oversized padded headboard with cleverly designed concealed wardrobe to its prints of cows adorning the walls and cow upholstered stool. The mattress was ever so comfortable and the goose down duvet which we snuggled beneath as light as air resulting in us being fast asleep in seconds.
I loved the way the room had been decorated with its exposed stone wall and reclaimed oak beams giving a nod to its original construction. French windows opened out onto a private terrace furnished with a table and chairs. From there we had views overlooking the chef’s well stocked kitchen garden and surrounding countryside beyond.
Everything had been thought of for a comfortable stay including a Nespresso coffee maker with a wide selection of pods, kettle with tea chest, biscuits and a fridge containing bottles of water and fresh milk.
The bathroom excelled too with its elegant simplicity of a large sized walk-in wet room shower with underfloor heating, thick Egyptian towels, cotton waffle dressing gowns and my favourite Molton Brown toiletries.
Dinner: After pampering ourselves with the fragrant toiletries and making cups of tea we got ready for a meal in the inn’s casual dining restaurant. The Cow theme continues into the bar with stools fashioned from milk churns and farm tools hanging from the walls.
Seated by the fire we were in seventh heaven sipping our drinks whilst perusing the menu. Fish is a speciality of The Cow with ‘The Catch” specials board offering fresh fish packed in ice delivered straight from fishing boats in Cornwall. Our chosen dishes both tasted delicious and extremely fresh.
We followed our mains with crème brûlée which was light and creamy beneath its crispy topping. Service was relaxed and we enjoyed a very pleasant evening meal.
On the second evening we chose to eat at The Bluebell at Kirk Langley, a sister pub of The Cow and just a five minute drive from Dalbury Lees. The Bluebell has also been recently modernised and is extremely tasteful with its contemporary interior. The dining area is much larger than The Cow with a different vibe but equally attractive. Over drinks we studied the menu featuring pub classics including beer battered fish and chips and homemade steak pie which we decided to opt for. Generous portions arrived, both cooked to perfection and we savoured every forkful.
Breakfast: Served in the bar between 7.30 a.m. and 10.00 a.m. we just needed to alert the bar staff the evening before of our preferred time. I didn’t mind this at all as it served as a second alarm clock to get us out of bed at the desired time. A long oak table had been set out with juice, yoghurt, cheese, cold meat and pastries and whilst partaking of a selection of these we ordered our cooked breakfast from the menu.
On one morning I had eggs benedict whilst on the other, smashed avocado, lime and poached eggs. These were both cooked to perfection and along with my two barista made cappuccinos, set me up for the day ahead very nicely.
The inn has 12 individually designed rooms several of which are on the ground floor and ideally suited to those unable to manage stairs. The hotel is dog friendly with several rooms set aside to welcome our four legged friends. There is a small car park to one side of the inn which has two electric charging points. On the second evening after returning from dinner at The Cow’s sister pub, we returned to find the car park full but this wasn’t a problem as street parking was available nearby.
Out and About:
With the stunning scenery of The Peak District National Park on the hotel’s doorstep there are many walking trails, small towns and villages to be explored. Below are some suggested places to visit:
Visit Cromford Mills, the world’s first successful water powered cotton spinning mill and the birthplace of the modern factory system. Cromford Mills was rescued from dereliction in the 1970’s and has been restored back to how it would have looked in the 1770’s. The importance of Cromford and the Derwent Valley were recognised in 2001 when it was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status. Take a tour of the buildings and then explore the village using an audio guide.
Enjoy a tour of the White Peak Distillery in Ambergate near Belper located in the atmospheric surroundings of a former wire works on the banks of the River Derwent. Following the tour sit around the tasting table to sample their award winning range of Shining Cliff gins and take home a tasting glass as a souvenir of your visit.
Explore Bakewell which is the only town wholly in the national park. This historic small market town is lovely with its characterful stone cottages and old buildings. The River Wye winds it’s way through the town and its riverbank makes for a pleasant walk. Don’t leave without sampling a Bakewell tart or pudding for which the small town is renowned.
Hire e-bikes from Hassop Station for an 8.5 mile scenic tour along The Monsal Trail. This traffic free cycling and walking route runs along the former Midland Railway line and passes through four illuminated tunnels. Monsal Trail cycle hire
Visit Buxton and taste Buxton water from its natural source in the elegant town that has been welcoming visitors since Roman times due to the healing properties of its thermal spa waters. Much of the town’s Georgian architecture is linked to the 5th Duke of Devonshire who carried out ambitious plans to make Buxton a spa town to rival that of Bath in the 18th century. Stroll around the town and marvel at Buxton Crescent which was designed by John Carr of York and regarded as one of the most impressive in the country.
Go underground in the delightful village of Castleton by taking a tour in one of its four cave systems. We visited Treak Cliff Cavern just outside the village centre approached through the dramatic limestone gorge of Winnats Pass. The Castleton area is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) famous for its large deposits of Blue John stone. This semi-precious mineral is a rare form of fluorite characterised by bands of purple, blue or yellow and is unique to this part of the Peak District.
Castleton itself is one of the most beautiful villages of the White Peak and a popular starting point for walking trails including the famous Mam Tor. Call in the main visitor centre of the Peak District National Park and pick up some maps. The centre covers the geology of the area and includes a gift shop and cafe.
Wander around Ashbourne, a picturesque market town lying close to our accommodation at The Cow. It’s yet another charming place with its winding streets, cobbled market place and Tudor and Georgian architecture.
Explore Derby and head to the Cathedral Quarter where its winding streets are a shopper’s delight. Visit Derby Cathedral with its 16th century tower and then stroll across Cathedral Green on the banks of the River Derwent to the newly opened Museum of Making. This free museum is located on a site of national significance as it is where Derby Silk Mill first stood over 300 years ago. Its galleries tell the story of Derby’s 300 year old history of manufacturing and of the people who were involved in industries ranging from silk making to railways and heavy engineering.
Our two night stay at The Cow had been delightful and we’d enjoyed everything about this luxurious country inn. Each of its rooms have been individually styled and offer high-end accommodation at reasonable prices. The attractive cow themed bar restaurant has a convivial atmosphere and coupled with delicious food and friendly service is a clear winner.
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