Whether you're a fan of the staycation or like to venture further afield, one thing is universal - you want to make sure that both your needs and those of your dog are fully catered for, meaning your break away is memorable and exactly what you need, and so when K9 Magazine was offered the chance to explore Kirkby Lonsdale in Cumbria staying at the Sun Inn which prides itself on being pet friendly, we knew exactly who we wanted to share the experience with – our friend and fellow dog lover, Sarah Jayne Dunn.
Last month myself, Jon my partner and our adorable pug, Ming Ming had the fantastic opportunity to stay at and review a dog friendly hotel for a weekend. After finally managing to pin down some dates when everyone had availability, we booked our stay for the last weekend in June.
What seemed like an eternity away could not have been better timed when it eventually arrived. Now 34 weeks pregnant and with a new business about to launch (find out more here), I was more than ready for a couple of days of relaxation with my squad as I affectionately like to refer to Jon, Ming Ming and my ever growing bump!
To add to the excitement of spending a couple of days away as a family, we were also kindly offered a beautiful car to get us to and around, our destination, courtesy of Mercedes-Benz Liverpool. Informing them that I would not be able to get my pregnant self in and out of a dangerously low to the ground sports model, they provided us with the perfect family/weekend get away car, the stunning Mercedes GLC.
As we cruised into Kirkby Lonsdale in our sexy motor all ready for a chilled weekend away, I was not disappointed by the beautiful little village. Quaint shops and houses nestled into pretty streets, with the Sun Inn slap bang in the heart of it all.
We were pleasantly welcomed by Mark Fuller, one of the owners, who helped us with our bags and showed us up to our beautiful dog friendly room.
Mark talked us through everything we needed to know about our room and pointed our the dog treats, towel and bowl provided for Ming Ming's stay. There is even a dog walking map provided in the room suggesting local walks with time frames dependent on how long or short you’d like to make the walk, which I think is a genius idea!
After moving the car to a car park a very short walk away (parking permits are provided at no extra cost) we decided to settle in and explore our room. The room was traditionally decorated with a luxurious sumptuous bed and a small bottle of fizz in an ice bucket with two glasses was on the side.
In the bathroom were some comfy white bathrobes, a large bowl of bath salts and some gorgeous toiletries from a local company called The Bath House, alongside some complimentary smelly spritz to make yourself smell yummy (which was perfect as I’d run out of perfume!). There was also a lovely welcome card from Lucy, Mark and the team. We were spoilt rotten.
For our first evening, as we’d arrived quite late in the day, we decided to have a little mooch around the village to take in our surroundings. There are lots of lovely little shops and places to eat, however, we discovered that the Sun Inn was obviously everyone’s favourite spot, as it was by far the busiest place in Kirkby Lonsdale.
We grabbed our drinks, an Elderflower Spritz for the preggers one, from the bar and decided to relax in our room for the evening. As the football blurred into insignificance in the background (Euros, meh) I dozed off into a beautifully peaceful sleep in our huge bed.
I woke up eager to sample the breakfast menu. After taking Ming Ming on a short walk for her morning business, we headed to the restaurant where dogs are allowed! This is such a welcome convenience and something that I feel a lot more hotels, bars, cafes and restaurants should pick up on.
There are millions of dog owning homes in the UK, they are part of your family and you enjoy spending time with them and like them to be able to enjoy days out or trips away with you. On many occasions, my squad and I have walked away from an establishment because of their lack of catering for pet owners and their dogs. It always delights me to find places that go above and beyond to make you and your pooch feel welcome, and the Sun Inn is definitely one of those places.
We were in an area of the restaurant with two other couples who also had their dogs with them and all behaved impeccably, including the humans (laughs).
Then there was the breakfast itself……ample, delicious and a perfect way to set you up for a day of strolling around the countryside. With a buffet to begin, boasting yummy homemade granola and buttery croissants, you are then offered a cooked breakfast - the full works or your own combination.
On our first day, I opted for the full works, not to be disappointed. Tea or coffee is with you as soon as you sit down, as is fresh orange juice and the option of a tasty daily smoothie, which as I discovered was well worth saying yes to. It was delicious!
As we devoured our feast we got chatting to our breakfast neighbours who told us about ‘Ruskin’s View’ which is located a short walk just behind the hotel.
We decided to make that our first exploration for the day.
We asked Mark at breakfast where he would recommend for a nice drive (we were eager to get back into the powerful GLC and test it out on some country roads) and he suggested Skelwith Bridge for a nice drive, taking in a walk by the river and some lunch at Chester’s.
As we got ready to depart for the day, Mark came up to our room and handed us printed out directions and information about Skelwith Bridge and the walk he’d recommended, super helpful!
Of course we could rely on the beautiful British Summer not to disappoint us and as predicted it was a showery day, not a cause for concern at the Sun Inn though as they have on hand Wellies, umbrellas and rain macs for you to borrow should you need to - I armed myself with a bright pink rain mac and an umbrella before we headed to our first exploration of the day. I also discovered there is a doggy rinse down area for when you return to the hotel with your (potentially) muddy pet.
A short walk past the Church, situated directly behind the hotel and you stumble upon Ruskin’s View.
It truly is, it almost hits you out of nowhere, even in the drizzly rain this a serious view to contend with and definitely one of the prettiest I have seen. As we marvelled at its wonder a lovely little robin came to say hello.
If you continue to walk past the view the path goes on for some time and becomes wooded, a perfect place to walk your dog and just a stone’s throw from the hotel.
We then got in our motor and whizzed on our way to Skelwith Bridge. Located at the other side of Lake Windermere it’s a good 40 minute drive but it’s absolutely worth it, especially in the beast of a car, perfect for a very pregnant lady and co. I imagine it would be a dream to just cruise in solo, no excuses needed for a gorgeous car like this! It’s effortless on the country roads and equally easy to drive on long stretches of motorway (M6!!).
We arrived at Skelwith Bridge, taking in the beauty of the Lakes and Lake Windermere en route, and immediately found ourselves at Chester’s, the cafe that had been recommended by Mark and choose to settle down for a spot of lunch before our walk (although how I could fit anything else in after my epic breakfast I don’t know, eating for two, more like four!!).
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Turns out Chesters by the River is a vegetarian cafe and the salads on offer were a feast for the eyes! Creative, beautiful to look at and absolutely delicious and healthy, I could happily eat here every day and then came the cakes, oh my! Delicious, sumptuous and humongous are descriptions that do not do them justice.
After a feast like this, we needed a walk to come round from our food coma. First though, we took a stroll around the cafe’s gift shop. Beautiful gifts for all occasions and delightful children’s toys and clothes. If only we knew whether we were having a boy or girl I would’ve bought the whole clothes rail.
And so, to our walk. We headed out into the drizzle, heading up past Chester's and following the river. First of all, you stumble across a waterfall. Very pretty and a great photo opportunity, although a little precarious to get to if heavily pregnant, older or a small child.
We continued to follow the river before passing through a kissing gate and into a field. Ming Ming loved all the new smells, stopping at every wooden post to have a sniff.
Apparently, you can continue to follow the river for about 40 minutes and you will end up at a pub. It sounded fabulous, however with a pregnant waddle and a pug that wants to sniff everything, we only made it about 15 minutes down the river before deciding to head back.
We cruised back to the Sun Inn and retired to our room. I donned my sumptuous white robe and relaxed in the ample bed. More football (damn Euros) meant I had time for a read of one of the complimentary magazines available at the hotel and then a relaxing bath, trying out the bath salts which made the bath water soft and silky.
For our second evening and we were booked into the Sun Inn’s own restaurant. Having seen the menu and read the reviews we were very excited about our meal. Of course, Ming Ming joined us again as dogs are allowed in the restaurant at any time of day. She was offered a nice cold bowl of water and then spent the rest of the evening looking at us with puppy dog eyes as we tucked into our delicious meal.
We were served a taster of a caesar salad which was delicious. I opted for the chicken and ham terrine followed by sea bream and quickly came to the conclusion that it’s no wonder the restaurant boasts two AA rosettes.
Everything on the menu sounded tasty and I would have happily devoured every dish I saw come out of the kitchen heading over to another table.
Unfortunately after another peaceful night’s sleep and another huge hearty breakfast (scrambled eggs and smoked salmon this time), it was time to head home.
What perfect timing for a relaxing break and delicious food and wonderful surroundings, though. I can highly recommend the Sun Inn with their attention to detail and service. We will definitely be back again, next time with an extra squad member in tow. Oh, and if you can get your hands on a Mercedes for the weekend too then that’s just the icing on the cake.
To find out more about the Sun Inn and their dog friendly breaks, visit online at www.sun-inn.info