Yorkshire Dales bed and breakfast – spending the night in a corn mill
I reluctantly clawed my way out of a deep slumber, feeling like a hedgehog emerging from a long and satisfying hibernation. As I blinked sleepily in the half light of dawn I smiled at the fluffy white clouds that were already floating overhead. Countryside life is divine isn’t it! A wild boar and a deer joined the idyllic scene, along with a dog and a parrot. Huh, in what ecosystem is that ever a reality? Fully awake now I remembered I was in fact in a Yorkshire Dales bed and breakfast. Not outdoors in the woods, and certainly not back in the Amazon rainforest where we’d been exploring a couple of weeks earlier. My confusion can perhaps be forgiven seeing as Hubbie and I were staying at Low Mill Guest House in Bainbridge, a Grade II listed corn mill, and one of the most delightfully unusual places to stay in the Yorkshire Dales.
Low Mill Guest House, Bainbridge
Quirky doesn’t even begin to cover the decor at Low Mill Guest House. I’m all for unusual places to stay, but on paper the startling menagerie of home furnishings at this Yorkshire Dales bed and breakfast really shouldn’t work. Roll top baths, deer antler mirrors and traditional wooden mill wheel cogs aren’t usually found co-existing peacefully alongside Dali-esque clocks, paintings of the underside of cows, or a plastic stegosaurus. Yet here they all were. And strangely, it not only worked, it was brilliant!
Looking around the guest house there’s just so much to take in. It’s the sort of place you could stay for a week and still keep noticing new quirks. Like the acoustic lambs wool clouds suspended from the beamed ceiling above our bed, or the almost life sized tigers that stand guard over the mill stones in the lounge.
Many of the original millworks found throughout the old building are still in working order today, thanks to some painstaking renovation by owner Neil, who just happens to be a carpenter. Always handy! He and Jane purchased the property on a whim a few years ago, without knowing anything about mills or guest houses. They know a lot more today, and surely have one of the best Yorkshire Dales bed and breakfasts ever!
Low Mill Guest House is tucked away in the pretty little village of Bainbridge, not far from the market town of Hawes (famous for its cheese) in the heart of Wensleydale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It’s a fantastic base for holidays in this part of the world, especially if you’re into beautiful country walks.
The guest house sits on the banks of the River Bain, apparently the shortest river in England!
There are just 3 rooms, making it feel more like a home than a hotel, which is always a good thing. We opted for the Workshop, which is the largest of the 3 and came complete with working mill machinery, a free standing copper bath and a log burner. As well as a ceramic dog.
Before becoming a Yorkshire Dales bed and breakfast, the mill was previously a Dolls House Museum, and this room was the workshop. We once spent the night in a gingerbread museum but an ex toy museum is another new departure for us. However this one came with an emperor sized bed, a little library area and even the original sack hoist. Useful for hauling up oversized luggage, and baths!
Whilst I’m known for often choosing accommodation according to the wow factor of the bathroom, Hubbie tends to judge a place by its breakfast. A full English to be precise. What we loved about Low Mill Guest House was that the produce is all fresh and local. Neil and Jane pride themselves on using local Yorkshire suppliers, and the quality really shows in the food. Breakfast was the usual selection of cereals, fruit and Neil’s delicious home made bread, followed by an impressive choice of hot options (including pancakes with bacon and maple syrup!). Hubbie gave his unwavering approval to the full English two mornings in a row, whilst I tried the Wensleydale cheese and Yorkshire ham (when in Rome and all that!). Clean plates all around.
Evening meals are also available on request, and we do recommend you dine in at least once. The food was hearty and comforting, perfect for a cold Autumn evening. Beef and Askrigg (the next village!) Ale stew with horseradish mash, and home baked ham, egg and chips, followed by chocolate fondant with ice-cream. A feast of champions!
There are several options for eating out in the local area, including pubs in Bainbridge and Askrigg, as well as the delightful Yorebridge House just down the road if you’re looking for somewhere for a special occasion. We tried the King’s Arms in Askrigg for our second evening, and the meal was just okay. Kinda wished we’d stayed in to eat at Low Mill Guest House instead!
The water wheel
We’ve often stayed in quirky accommodation around the world, but this was our first corn mill, and to discover that it still worked was a wonderful surprise. If (when!) you stay at Low Mill Guest House in Bainbridge, do ask Neil to give you a tour behind the scenes, it’s not every day you get to see an operational water wheel at work!
The mechanisms inside the guest house all worked together to turn the cogs in our bedroom, and we excitedly scampered up to see it all in action. The mill isn’t used to produce anything today but it’s certainly fun for guests to see it all in motion.
Things to do around Bainbridge
The Yorkshire Dales are all about country walks, cosy firesides and tea shops. We fancied a leg stretch in this beautiful neck of the woods, so Neil recommended a 9 mile circular hike from Low Mill Guest House up to Raydale and Semerwater. Pulling on our boots we set out into the chilly Autumn sunshine, thinking how pleasant it was not to have to drive anywhere first.
The great thing about the Yorkshire Dales is that it never feels busy. Sure, this was November, but if we’d have gone hiking in the Lake District this weekend, we’d have come across hordes of people. Here, we passed maybe 3 other walkers the entire day!
We started by following in the 2000 year old footsteps of Roman legionaries with a gradual plod up the Cam High Road, albeit with boots and cameras rather than swords and sandals. The impressively straight Roman road runs all the way to Ingleton in the west of the Yorkshire Dales, where there is a famous waterfall walk, well worth doing if you’re in the area.
After a seemingly endless but thoroughly enjoyable march we hung a left over Green Scar and began our descent into Raydale. The only movement in this hidden green valley was the sheep, and a couple of farmers doing the rounds with their sheepdogs. It was unbelievably peaceful. The sort of place where you really can get away from it all for a while.
Further down the valley we came across Semerwater, which for those of you who like facts, is the second largest natural lake in North Yorkshire. Yet what caught our eyes were the ruins of a tiny chapel, tranquil and beautiful in its decay, commanding a fabulous position overlooking the water.
We’re not religious, but love nothing better than to go snooping around ancient churches and abbeys, trying to discover their stories and secrets. This time a fairly new looking gravestone grabbed my attention. I’m always intrigued about the lives of the people who have their eternal homes in pretty village graveyards. Here at Stalling Busk there was nothing unusual about a priest and his son passing away. Yet when the latter is a geologist who died in Africa, and former died just a month later, my curiosity can perhaps be forgiven. A few days and a bit of internet searching later, I found out that son Peter was killed by a rhinoceros whilst taking photos on safari in South Africa, and his father died at his funeral. Such a terribly sad story, but we hope they’re now at peace in this tranquil idyll in the depths of the Yorkshire Dales.
If you fancy having a go at this walk yourselves, you can find the route here.
What we loved
We love a bit of hiking, and to be able to do it from the door of our Yorkshire Dales guest house was a real treat. What made it even better were the thoughtfully provided maps and route cards showing several local walks. Even someone not used to reading OS maps would have been able to follow these trails. It’s a small thing but is so often overlooked by accommodation providers. Top marks to Neil and Jane!
I’ve said it before and I’ll happily say it again, it’s the hosts that really make or break a stay. Neil and Jane were welcoming and friendly without being intrusive, and really have thought of absolutely everything to make their guests feel at home. It’s the little touches that make such a difference. The handmade local chocolate shards on our bed when we got here. The fudge, tiffin and even more chocolates which were replenished each day so we could reward ourselves after a good days walk. Or drive. Or movie marathon. Then there was the most decadently moist ginger cake to tuck into on arrival, we certainly wouldn’t be going home hungry. Yet what really made my day was the jug of iced water in our room. A really simple gesture but oh so welcome for awkward people like me who don’t drink tea or coffee. Plus I’m the sort of high maintenance lass who always demands chilled rather than room temperature water at home, so I was pretty much made up!
It wasn’t all about the food. We also loved the heated towel rails, the fact that there was conditioner in the bathroom, and bath salts for the gorgeous bath. It always astounds me how so many hotels and guest houses have such divine looking baths yet never think to actually supply any bubbles or salts. Without them it’s a pretty useless contraption. Someone should point out to these places that it’s not all about Instagram!
What wasn’t so great
The bedrooms aren’t soundproofed so noise does carry up from the living room, and sometimes from other bedrooms. Yet it really wasn’t an issue because the type of people who choose to stay at Low Mill Guest House aren’t the sort to be up late, partying the night away. It was always quiet after 10pm, plenty of time to get that all important beauty sleep.
Neil and Jane have a dog, Dotty, who is rarely heard or seen but did sometimes come into the lounge with our hosts. I’m a complete scaredy-cat when it comes to dogs. Luckily Hubbie has a soft spot for them (probably because the poor boy is starved of canine interaction back home) and always takes over in these situations whilst I place myself strategically (but quite unnecessarily) behind the nearest sofa, tree or car. However most visitors love animals and for them saying hello to Dotty will be nothing but a bonus. And to be honest, she wasn’t really a very scary dog at all. So that one’s on me!
I thought our weekend at Low Mill Gust House in Bainbridge would be pleasant, cosy, and rejuvenating, but I didn’t expect to rate it amongst our favourite weekends away in the UK ever! Plastic dinosaurs and dogs really aren’t my thing. Yet here, for some reason, they just work. Yes, it’s quirky, and some of the decor is perhaps a little ‘off the wall’, but it’s this unusual environment, coupled with some of the friendliest, most down to earth hosts you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting, that makes this Yorkshire bed and breakfast somewhere we’ll never forget.
This is 5* cosiness at it’s finest. And I hope that Neil and Jane don’t change a thing!
Thanks to Neil and Jane for being such excellent hosts. We received a complimentary night at Low Mill Guest House but as always, opinions remain our own.