The market town of Kirkby Lonsdale holds some very special memories and after a stay at The Sun Inn, it is fair to say I now have a few more to add to the collection.
As a child I was lucky enough to visit this picturesque part of Cumbria on several occasions, whether it be school trips, visits with family or a day out with my better half – and again I was not disappointed, with this lovely venue the jewel in the crown of the town’s bed and breakfasts.
Before setting off I did some online research about the hotel. One well-known travel website has close to 1,000 reviews of the inn - with around 900 rated in the ‘excellent’ bracket. I must admit I was slightly sceptical about this, but excellent was just one of many superlatives I could use to describe our stay.
The Sun, a 17th century inn, has been run by owners Mark and Lucy Fuller since 2006 and is set close to St Mary’s Church.
After leaving home we arrived at our destination quite early, but a quick phone call ahead and we dropped off our bags – a parking bay is next to the entrance – before grabbing one of the 11 permits the hotel has for use in town’s car parks – another nice touch.
We were greeted at the door by friendly and helpful staff before being shown to our accommodation – a deluxe double room overlooking the main road.
Decorated in browns, greens and beiges, the room mixed the modern with many character features. It had wonderful touches – ear plugs to mask the morning bells at the neighbouring church, cosy bath robes, a selection of magazines about the area, perfumes and salt from the Bath House – a scent-infused shop on the Main Street – and a rare treat – fresh milk to enjoy with our tea and coffee.
After a little more exploration we ventured downstairs into the stylish bar and restaurant area. Again the staff were warm to our arrival, offering tea and coffee – complimentary to all guests – before we ventured out into the town’s many shops, coffee houses and pubs.
We returned later on to find the pub slightly busier with afternoon guests, before we had a small break before dinner in the restaurant.
While enjoying a few pre meal-pints – draught beers on offer include Wainwright and Hawkshead Brewery – I was struck by the demand for a table. Several couples hoping for an evening meal were reluctantly turned away, with hotel staff warning to book ahead if you stay on Friday or Saturday nights.
The menu, prepared by head chef Sam Carter, was rich and varied. I enjoyed suckling pig to start, with my fellow diner the asparagus. A main of bouillabaisse felt like a trip to Marseille, while a loin of lamb was enjoyed by my eating partner. We both shared a wonderful creme brûlée and lemon tart to finish.
After a comforting night’s sleep, breakfast the following morning included cereals, yoghurts and granola, followed by your day’s dose of vitamin C with a tasty mixed berry smoothie.
A cooked breakfast had the usual bacon, sausages, mushrooms and eggs, but other options such as porridge, kippers and omelette were lovely additions. As my partner noted, it made a pleasant change to the standard ‘help yourself’ buffet.
Venturing out of the inn, our travels included a trip to Devil’s Bridge and a view across the pretty Kirkby Lonsdale Cricket Club. A pathway behind the back of the church led to the famous Ruskin’s View – the place John Ruskin called ‘one of the loveliest views in England, therefore the world.’ The rolling hills and greenery inspired a painting by the artist JMW Turner, who captured the idyllic scene of the Lune and valley.
As for the town, it really is a wonderful throwback to days of yesteryear. The cobbled walkways and alleys intertwine through narrow passages and unusual structures, some which date back several centuries. Street names such as Salt Pie Lane, Jingling Lane, Swine Market and Old Coach Road each have a story to tell – keep an eye out for the plaques which explain the names – while the selection of shops promise plenty of interest.
Visiting Kirkby Lonsdale anytime soon? A stay at this wonderful little venue is surely a must.