The Ribble Valley is an idyllic part of the north of England located in north east Lancashire and covering 212 sq. miles of the Forest of Bowland, an area of deep valleys and peat moorland.
It’s an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty but despite booming tourism with ever increasing numbers of visitors, it’s still a hidden gem and an undiscovered part of the country to many people.
Gisburn is accessible from Junction 13 of the M56 motorway. The picturesque village lies on the Lancashire/ Yorkshire border straddling the A59 between Clitheroe and Skipton.
Gisburne Glamping Village is within an hour’s drive of both Manchester and Leeds making it easy to reach for a short countryside break.
Arrival and check-in:
On the morning of our stay we received a text message with details of how to find Gisburne Park and the tent number to which we had been allocated, inviting us to access our tents from 4.00 p.m.
The instructions were slightly misleading as they led us into the main part of the estate and not to where the pop-up glamping site was located. It wasn’t a problem though as we spoke to one of the estate gardeners and with a quick turn round of the car we headed down a leafy lane finding the glamping site a few minutes later.
There we found a large car park with some spaces beneath an open sided barn so we left the car there to keep it in the shade. The parking area is well hidden from the tents so as not to detract from the experience and close enough that we could easily make two trips to carry our belongings in from the car. I can never travel lightly and along with cool bags, bottles of Prosecco, fruit, nibbles etc. you’d think we were staying for a week and not just two nights.
Our luxury Glamping Tent:
I’d never been camping before preferring to stay in hotels or apartments but was intrigued to discover what luxury glamping was all about. There were ten bell tents all well spaced overlooking a large lawned area. We were allocated to tent number three which came complete with an outdoor table with four chairs and a fire pit with a supply of logs.
We stood on the welcome mat at the entrance and excitedly unzipped the flap of our tent and I couldn’t believe how spacious and well equipped it was. As it was a bell tent there was no need for crawling around as even tall people would be able to stand in it without problem.
There was a comfortable double bed with a sprung mattress, quality bed linen and towels. Bedside tables had been fashioned out of packing crates and with electricity and two power sockets to charge our devices it didn’t feel like a pop-up at all.
Also included on a table at the foot of the bed were complimentary bottles of water, melamine wine glasses and tumblers. A laminated sheet welcomed us to the park outlining dining options and information about the pool etc. with a number to contact if we had any queries.
The individual loos and showers were quite quirky and just a short walk away. They were kept spotlessly clean and with each of the showers being electric there was always a plentiful supply of hot water.
We visited in mid-August when it was sizzling hot the entire time so it was actually quite pleasant to just pop on my dressing gown and walk bare foot down to the showers but I’m not sure how I’d feel about it if it was wet and windy. I just had to remember to take my towel and toiletry bag with me each time which I forgot once so had to go back for!
Just a short walk from the glamping site and within the Gisburne Park estate is the attractive Hindelinis Restaurant and Bar. It’s open daily for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner and as it’s popular I’d recommend booking a table in advance.
The interior opens out into a conservatory and as it was such a balmy evening lots of people were sitting out on the terrace enjoying drinks. There’s a varied, good priced menu and our starters of Serrano wrapped asparagus served with soft poached eggs were very flavoursome.
For mains neither of us could resist the huge plates of perfectly cooked beer battered fresh haddock served with chips and mushy peas but with pastas, burgers, pizzas and steaks also on the menu, it was difficult to choose.
Never being able to resist a dessert I opted for the malt peanut iced parfait whilst my friend tucked into a large fresh fruit ice cream sundae.
The park features an open air swimming pool (opening hours 10.00-16.00) with padded sun loungers surrounding it. Pilates classes take place at the pool side at varying times as well.
The site has Wi-Fi which worked well in the restaurant but was patchy down at the glamping site. This didn’t bother us as we could use 4G and as we were enjoying the outdoors we didn’t need it much anyway. Children can stay free in their parent’s bell tents with camp beds provided but just need to supply their own bedding.
We enjoyed sitting out on our patio each evening when the temperature had cooled down and as I’d brought along a number of games we played some of these whilst toasting marshmallows on our fire pit.
We spotted several deer and peacocks were often strutting around the tents, one even had a peek inside ours when we had left the flap open.
Some campers had brought along sets of boules, frisbees etc. to amuse themselves with on the large grassy area. We could have done the same but being inexperienced in outdoor living, it never occurred to do so.
Out and About:
Gisburn – start with a wander around the village, just a 10 minute walk from the glamping site. With its rows of picture perfect stone cottages bedecked with window boxes and hanging baskets, it’s a delightful little place.
It boasts a multi-award winning Italian restaurant La Locanda which serves the finest seasonal ingredients sourced locally with charcuterie, olives and oils brought over from Italy. We dined there one evening and felt we had been transported to the heart of Italy with its rustic decor, fine foods and charming husband and wife owners Maurizio and Cinzia Bocchi looking after us perfectly.
Maurizio cooks all the food single handed whilst his wife acts as front of house, serving food and drinks. On the ground floor there is a cosy well stocked bar with an original cooking range.
Most of the tables are located upstairs and with such an extensive menu it was hard to decide what to order as it’s all so appealing. Cinzia talked us through the menu, suggesting wine pairings for each course. For mid week, there was only one free table and as people travel from far and wide, I’d recommend reserving a table ahead of your stay if you plan to eat there one evening.
Clitheroe is a prosperous market town at the heart of the Ribble Valley and just a 25 minute drive from Gisburn. Visit Clitheroe Castle which sits on top of a limestone outcrop from where it has dominated the town for over 800 years.
Take the steep path to view its ruined Norman Keep and after exploring inside climb up some steps onto the surrounding wall to enjoy panoramic views of the Forest of Bowland and Pendle Hill.
Continue on to Holmes Mill, a renovated former textiles mill dating back to 1823. If you’ve not come across it before, you need to plan a visit as the site has been tastefully transformed into a food hall, bistro, hotel, beer hall and more recently an Everyman cinema has been added.
The stunning Bowland Beer Hall features exposed brickwork and boasts one of the longest pub bars in the north of England at 105ft long, serving their own brewed Bowland beers plus a large selection of guest ales. I’d go as far as to say that this is industrial chic at its finest with its cosy seating in the Engine Room alongside Elizabeth, the original engine that powered the weaving sheds. Lots of dining options are available and we enjoyed lunch in the food hall.
Visit the idyllic village of Downham, three miles from Clitheroe. Pendle Hill looms 1827 feet over the village with the neatly arranged estate cottages of the village below. It’s unusual nowadays to find a village that is entirely owned by the estate with all the inhabitants as tenants, but the locals here appear to be very happy with this arrangement.
The Assheton family took ownership of the estate in 1558 and it has been in their hands ever since. The village comprises a manor house, parish church, post office, and 32 cottages in a picturesque riverside setting.
A former Roman settlement with the remains of a Roman bathhouse dating back to the 2nd century.
The bathhouse is located close to the northern bank of the River Ribble. Take a stroll along the riverside path and look inside the beautiful St. Wilfred’s Church close by. Whilst in Ribchester enjoy refreshments at the delightful Potters Barn.
It was such a lovely morning that we sat in the pretty garden with our coffee and cakes. The cafe also offers pottery painting and has a gift shop containing some attractive local crafts.
I really enjoyed my first ever luxury glamping stay, sleeping really well on a proper bed in the tranquility of the Gisburne Estate. Each of the ten bell tents were occupied but everyone was lovely and quiet and we didn’t experience any noise whatsoever.
One aspect of our stay I adored was the camaraderie among the fellow campers, all saying hello and pausing to chat as they passed by. Glamping seems to enjoy a wide appeal as our neighbours to one side were a young couple, also first time campers like us.
A family of four had the tent to the other side whilst across the field another family had booked two adjacent tents to accommodate parents, children and grandparents and with Mediterranean style weather blessing this lovely part of Lancashire, who wouldn’t be happy luxury glamping and enjoying the outdoor life.
Details: Gisburne Park Estate Glamping, The Estate Office, Gisburn, Lancashire BB7 4LP.
During our stay we were guests of Gisburne Park Estate Glamping, and as always, all views and opinions are entirely my own.
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