The sun rose slowly over the North Yorkshire moors as we looked out of the windows of our luxury lodge.
The three-bedroom property is modernity personified – all reclaimed furniture, a soft grey colour palette and pops of personality, with more en suites and gleaming kitchen space than you’d expect in a glossy property TV show. What a life.
Well, not our life, exactly.
But this life was ours for the weekend at least at Long Ashes Park near Skipton in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
It’s an unusual resort, with a fantastic pub with rooms, spa and leisure centre all rolled into one, plus properties including lodges, caravans and even log cabins for sale as part of the Thorpe View Lodges development.
It’s certainly easier to stomach a long drive in traffic when you know there is some relaxation at the end of it.
We started our Friday with a stint in the spa – lazy laps of the pool, a gossip in the warm jacuzzi and time in the sauna and steam room. They also have swimming gear for sale, if you forget your bikini, like I did.
Our shoulders had definitely dropped a tad by the time we got to dinner at The Gamekeeper’s Inn.
It’s everything you hope for in a cosy country pub – welcoming, warm, with a packed schedule of activities and lots of food and drink to choose from.
The menu is a cut above what you’d expect from pub grub.
My salt and pepper squid was a fantastic plate to look at – slim pieces of dusted squid artfully arranged on a grey slate. The fish had been cooked to perfection and gave off an excellent heat.
The pan fried hake with mussels in white wine sauce, cavalo Nero and fondant potato was one of the finest mains my brother had sampled in a long time. And he was equally happy with a high quality black pudding starter, and hearty red wine with venison sausages.
Naughty sticky toffee pudding finished off the food, before sleeping it all off in one of the enormous beds in the pub rooms. Don’t let the term pub room fool you, they’re more like luxury hotel rooms, with waterfall showers and your own little patio.
It was great to wake up in the peaceful surroundings of the park. It really does feel like a haven away from the normal world.
After a full English, we headed to check out Malham Cove. Used in the filming for Harry Potter, this glorious limestone formation is now a hotspot for climbers and walkers.
It’s a short, steep climb to see the outstanding views from the top.
The climb down – including a search for my hat, lost in one of the crevices created by glacier melting – was followed with an afternoon in nearby Skipton.
This charming market town – just a short train ride from Leeds – has a beautiful castle and plenty of tiny shops to explore, as well as endless choices for lunch.
We headed back for night two, this time staying in one of the holiday letting lodges, the new and decadent Thorpe View.
It really was a dream house. Huge squishy beds and gigantic hallway, heated floors and panoramic views from the floor to ceiling glass windows. It’s easy to see why people choose to spend the majority of their year here when they buy a property.
Before dinner, the spa was calling again.
A therapist cleansed and cleansed again in my mini facial, adding lavender lotions and rose petal potions to rub away the leftovers of daily life. A head massage was the icing on the cake.
My brother – a burly mechanic – opted for the hot stone massage, and said it eased perfectly the tension in his too tight shoulders.
There was just time for another steam to clear out those toxins before another fantastic dinner in the lively pub.
Pinot noir and pork belly – with the necessary crackling, plus salted caramel gravy – made for a filling and decadent goodbye for me.
And his fine, whopping burger, was equally impressive.
It was sad to pack our bags and return to the reality of the daily grind. But the great thing about a holiday this close to home is you can always go back...