For some relaxed country elegance, put yourself in the hands of Jill and Rupert Richardson, who run lovely Dowfold House with a light but welcoming touch. It's a Victorian property of great charm – built originally for the local mine-owner – and sits high on a panoramic site in Crook, with sweeping views over Weardale and the North Pennines. Even so, you're only 20 minutes from Durham, and handily placed for onward adventures in the dales. A log fire and homemade biccies welcome winter visitors, while in summer you'll be invited to make the most of the views from the lawn. After a quiet night in one of three tranquil rooms, the Dowfold breakfast is unleashed upon you – an award-winning ensemble of locally sourced produce, homemade bread and preserves, and seasonal fruit including handpicked hedgerow berries. It's all served just-so, on polished tables and fine china, and the country-house feel extends to afternoon tea in the garden and a game of croquet.
Open all year.
Dowfold House, Low Jobs Hill Crook Durham DL15 9AB
It's off the A690, 9 miles southwest of Durham, at Low Jobs Hill (or Hillcrest on some SatNavs).
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