When choosing where to holiday with your dog, what’s the first thing that comes to mind for you? Is it somewhere nice and quiet to relax or do you like a bit of hustle and bustle?
Recently we were given the chance to review a luxury cottage in the Yorkshire Dales, thanks to Gorgeous Cottages, and invited actress Sarah Jayne Dunn to go along for us.
Here’s how she got on.
When I found out I would be reprising my long-standing role as Mandy Richardson in ‘Hollyoaks’ I jumped with joy and then I panicked, I was about to return to work full time in less than a month and myself and Jon hadn’t planned any holidays for our little Pom squad (that’s me, my fiancé Jon, my little boy Stanley and our little girl - pet Pug - Ming Ming).
I contacted the lovely Kim at K9 Magazine for more suggestions of pet friendly accommodation in this country and not too far from home (we’re based in Cheshire in the North West) and as always, she did not disappoint.
Kim put us on to a fantastic website called ‘Gorgeous Cottages’ and it showcased exactly what the name suggests. Pages upon pages of gorgeous dog friendly cottages to choose from - who knew there were so many accommodating locations for the whole family on our doorstep.
We checked the availability for a stunning, newly refurbished little cottage close to Richmond in North Yorkshire, just a couple of hours drive from us, which would be a perfect location for travelling to with a small baby (9 months old at the time) and an impatient Pug.
They had the weekend we’d requested free and we went ahead and booked, relieved to know we had somewhere to look forward to visiting, to relax and explore before being thrown back into long shooting hours and ever changing schedules.
The cottage we’d chosen was called Dawn View, a two bedroom quaint little cottage situated on a green, perfect for walking Ming Ming in a tiny, quiet village called Melsonby.
On arrival at the cottage, we were not disappointed, it has recently been refurbished to a very high standard, with beautiful decor and furnishings throughout.
In the kitchen, we were greeted with a welcome hamper from owners Nicola and Martin, packed full of tasty treats including Prosecco, strawberry jam, filter coffee and some eggs from local hens. Flowers and homemade chocolate muffins were also a pleasant surprise and were left alongside a beautiful card from the couple wishing us a nice visit.
In amongst the food, wine and flowers was also a hand knitted Jelly Baby for Stanley, who is too young to enjoy the delights of the hamper. A really thoughtful touch and it’s safe to say Stanley was suitably pleased with his gift.
Ming Ming was also not left out of the equation with food and water bowls supplied and a whole jar of doggy treats.
There was also a handy information book with information about the cottage and what to do in and around the area. Time had clearly been spent putting this together and we found it to be an invaluable reference source during our stay.
As we were travelling with a baby, the cottage came equipped with a travel cot and high chair, both of great quality, making it really easy for us to pack much lighter than we would have to ordinarily.
Our cottage had two bedrooms, one of which was a single room and perfect for Stanley’s cot and all his additional items such as changing mat, clothes, nappies and so on. The master bedroom had everything you might expect including a wardrobe, drawers, TV and a really comfy, cosy bed.
You can tell that the cottage has recently been done up as no expense has been spared. The attention to detail is superb and it seems that nothing was overlooked.
This is most apparent in the kitchen where you will find just about every appliance and utensil you can think of. You literally need to take nothing with you, as you are bound to discover what you need in one of the many kitchen cupboards and drawers and everything is like new - we’re talking slow cooker, baby cutlery and plates/bowls, chopping boards, measuring jugs, scales, pots, pans and every plate, cup and bowl you could ever need. Very well thought through and impressive!
As well as a large upstairs bathroom there’s also a handy en-suite toilet off the kitchen. In the living room, there are two sofas, a plush carpet and rug and TV.
Ming Ming was recently gifted a Scruffs Noodle Dry Mat, a super soft, super absorbent mat ideal for use at home, in the car and on days out. We took it with us in case we found ourselves on a typical drizzly British weather weekend to be able to dry Ming off easily and keep our cottage lovely and clean.
However, as we were blessed with the sunshine the mat wasn’t needed to keep her dry but worked perfectly as a doggy blanket/bed and worked perfectly in the car, keeping it clean and Ming comfortable. It’s so soft I could happily sleep on it myself!
On our first morning, we woke to glorious sunshine we decided to explore our village as our first adventure. With Stanley tucked up in his pram and Ming Ming eager to suss out the local smells and potential furry friends, we ventured out.
Immediately outside the cottage is a beautiful, large village green. This was a perfect area to walk and ‘toilet’ Ming Ming (the cottage unfortunately doesn’t have its own secure outdoor area, my only negative of our whole trip). We wandered up and down the streets of the very quaint village and found a nice wall (Instagram post opportunity), a pub within a stone’s throw of the cottage, as well as a children’s play area and lots of fields. I’m sure you can keep walking for miles but with the pram, we stayed within the village perimeter.
Once we had our bearings, we decided to head back to the cottage to grab our bags and leave Ming Ming napping as we left to visit one of Nicola and Martin’s recommended places.
Mainsgill Farm is located just a short five minute drive from the cottage and is absolutely worth the visit.
It’s a large farm shop where you can simply have a mooch round the delicious produce and browse the shop or you can grab a bite to eat, we did just this. It was still early on in the day so we choose a fry up and porridge for us and toast for Stanley. I was also very tempted by the amazing array of cakes on display but managed to resist them because I knew we had the delicious chocolate muffins waiting for us back at the cottage!
We wandered around the shop and drooled at the yummy selection of foods and beverages on offer and gazed out through a large window onto the prettiest view I’ve ever seen from a shop thinking that it’s lovely that they’ve made a feature of it!
As we left we went for a peek at the animals on site, not what you’d expect in Yorkshire - there are camels and ostriches right next to a dual carriageway, I promise I didn’t drink any alcoholic tipples with breakfast.
From here we decided to visit another of Nicola and Martin’s suggestions, ‘Big Sheep Little Cow’ and I’m so thrilled that we did! As we arrived and heard the clucking of hens and oinking of pigs, I’m pretty sure I was more excited than any of the hundreds of children that must have crossed over its threshold before me.
The experience works by arriving at the start of a set tour time. Our tour group was only small and started in an old farm kitchen. In here, our tour guide talked us through how things used to run on the farm and what happened in the kitchen, and then he brought round a cookie jar for the children (me included in that demographic) to look inside and guess what was in there, IT WAS A TINY MOUSE, I was hooked. Our tour moved from the kitchen into a large room full of animals, I was literally in my element.
We were given the opportunity in turns to handle most of the animals after a description of the selected animal by our super tour guide. There were hedgehogs, ferrets, mice, rats, guinea pigs, tortoise and the biggest hare I’ve ever seen. Seriously, it was huge. Almost as big as Stanley and I’m not even exaggerating!
Stanley was mesmerised by all the animals and the older children on the tour seemed to have a wonderful time. I’d highly recommend this experience for adults and children of any age. Next we moved outside to the pig enclosures. What delightful, honky creatures they were. We were then introduced to the goats who we fed bottles to, they were greedy little creatures and so much fun.
Thrilled with our day so far, we made our way back to the cottage to have lunch, eat cake and spend the rest of the day with Ming Ming. We stopped at a nice wine shop located a few minutes drive from the cottage, picked up a bottle of red for later and took Ming Ming for another explore of the village before putting Stanley to bed and putting our feet up for the evening.
As we were only visiting the cottage for a couple of nights, the following day was, unfortunately, our last day. We chose to pack up the car and leave the cottage after breakfast to stop at a couple of destinations on our way home to break up our journey for the kids (Stanley and Ming Ming).
Sad to leave but excited to explore close by Richmond, we jumped in the car.
Richmond is only a short drive from the cottage, about 20 minutes in fact, and is a definite must see if you’re in the area. We parked up and walked into town along a beautiful river and through the park, it helped that the sun was shining for us but even without it, this is a stunning part of the country.
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The hills are steep up to the central square in Richmond, if you're carrying children or have toddlers that want to walk or lazy four-legged friends or anyone who’s not great on their legs, then I’d recommend parking in Richmond Square itself. I’m pleased we plodded up the steep hills as it burned off some of the cakes and wine from the day before!
The centre of Richmond is fairly small and compact, but very lovely with nice things to offer, such as butchers’, pretty second-hand stores, several places to eat and local supermarkets to grab any supplies you might need.
We chose to have a beverage at a large pub in the square which offered outdoor seating because it meant we could make the most of the glorious weather. Ming Ming was fussed over by the other people also enjoying the pub and Stanley happily played with Mr Jelly man.
After a very pleasant stroll back to the car, we started our journey home. We had made a plan to go via Northallerton, a market town a short drive South from the cottage, again recommended by the cottage owners. It appealed to us because its description sounded delightful - ‘handsome Georgian houses line the long main street’.
But, I have to say we were mightily disappointed and it did not live up to our expectations. We hoped to find somewhere to have a coffee and feed Stanley his lunch before continuing our journey. However, every cafe, bar and pub we went in said they were not dog friendly. The High St could have been one of many in the UK and didn’t have much to offer at all.
After spending a good half an hour taking it in turns popping into cafes and bars to see if they would accommodate Ming, we were just about to head back to the car to feed Stanley there before getting back on the road, when, as I stood in a Costa Coffee toilet queue, I googled ‘dog friendly’ pubs and a bar/restaurant just a six minute walk away came up. I marched outside, grabbed the troops and we power walked to the pub. The Tithe Bar and Brasserie saved our day.
The staff couldn’t have been more helpful and welcoming to ALL the family. Dog biscuits were on offer for Ming Ming and Stanley was able to sit in a high chair and graze on his lunch to his heart’s content. Myself and Jon had a very satisfying meal of a tasty panini and club sandwich and sweet potato fries. Suitably fuelled for our journey home, we hit the road.
Had we have known what a letdown North Allerton was going to be I wish we’d instead visited one of the many other places kindly recommended by the cottage owners as there’s so much to choose from. The cottage is located perfectly for exploring all the region has to offer and beyond, and I think even with a week’s stay you would still be left with a wish list of places to see that you just didn’t have time for.
We would revisit Dawn Cottage in a heartbeat and its beautiful surroundings. If you get an opportunity to visit this part of the country then you should definitely grab it with both paws!