Three cheers for Hipping
Slap in the middle of some of the greatest countryside in England, midway between the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District, Hipping Hall is a stylish, county house retreat for the weary traveller and their dog, as Richard Cree found out
Hipping Hall has been offering sustenance to travellers since the 15th century at least. Perfectly placed on the cross-Pennine road, it welcomed traders from the west coast across to Yorskshire’s major cities. The name comes from the Hipping (or stepping) stones that allowed people to cross Broken Beck, the stream that runs past the front of the hotel. With a heritage dating back so far back to an early travellers’ inn ( parts of the original building are still in use today), Hipping Hall nevertheless manages to wear its heritage lightly.
We arrived after a long drive up from the south and were heading on up to Scotland. What we came for was some fresh air and the chance to stretch our legs, an evening meal and a good night’s sleep. What we got was so much more. After centuries of doing so, Hipping Hall still offers up an excellent service to the long-distance traveller.
There are only a couple of rooms that are dog friendly and these are located across a small courtyard from the main house (where dogs aren’t allowed).
Hipping Hall was featured in the fourth episode of the Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan TV show The Trip and that is perhaps the best way to treat the place, harking back to its roots, using it as a splendid stopover. At least you know you’ll get an excellent night’s food and drink.
For all the Wolf Hall overtones of the impressive dining hall, there’s not stuffy or old-fashioned in young Kiwi head chef Brent Hulena’s cooking. Indeed at no time does it feel like you’re stuck in the past. This is a modern take on the country house hotel, with the emphasis on outstanding food and drink. As a simple point of reference, Hipping Hall serves one of the very best full-English breakfasts you’re likely to encounter anywhere and yes, it is all cooked by a team led by a Kiwi. The sun-drenched terrace to the rear of the house makes a perfect spot for a relaxed and quiet afternoon tea.
Good food, quality drinks and warm, welcoming company are the essentials for any good travellers’ inn. But they count for little if you don’t also get a good night’s sleep. I am delighted to report that here, as elsewhere, Hipping Hall excels. Whichever room you book, you’ll get to sleep in possibly the most comfortable beds in Yorkshire.
And while it’s normally a negative to be restricted to staying in an outhouse with the dog, Hipping Hall’s old washhouse has been tastefully and cleverly converted into deluxe rooms. Ours (room 7) had a bedroom and delightfully luxurious en-suite bathroom upstairs and a cosy downstairs sitting room. This allows for plenty of space for the dog and you are only a couple of long strides from the main house. There’s great walking in from Hipping Hall, placed as it is on the periphery of the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and various other prime walking country. In short, regardless of what you want from a walk, you can find it here.
Best time of year to visit: Hipping Hall is worth a visit any time of the year. While summer brings the lovely terrace into play, there’s something comforting about the huge fireplaces in winter. And the surrounding countryside looks spectacular regardless of when you go.