Burnsall is a pretty Yorkshire Dales village with an interesting history. Its most famous son, Sir William Craven, rose from humble beginnings to become Lord Mayor of London in 1611. When he returned to Burnsall, he built a school and restored the Church of St Wilfrid. In more recent history, the village was the setting for the 2003 film Calendar Girls, which starred Dame Helen Mirren and Julie Walters. Calendar Girls tells the story of the now famous ladies of the Rylstone & District Women’s Institute who posed nude for a calendar raising money for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.
Nestling on a hillside, on the edge of the picturesque village of Burnsall, sits the Devonshire Fell Hotel. Originally built as a gentlemen’s club, it overlooks some of the most beautiful scenery in the Yorkshire Dales – including the iconic Burnsall Bridge and the gently rolling countryside beyond.
The ‘Dev Fell’, as it’s sometimes affectionately known, belongs to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire who also own the nearby Devonshire Arms Hotel and Spa, and the surrounding Bolton Abbey estate on the banks of the River Wharfe. The Bolton Abbey Estate has been in the Devonshire family since 1755. The Devonshire Fell was taken over by the estate in 1999, and was lovingly restored by the current Duchess of Devonshire.
The hotel’s style is bright, warm and contemporary, and the staff are so friendly. From Reception, you can step into the bar and, on a chilly day, warm yourself beside the real fire. Alternatively, if you can’t get enough of that view, you can make yourself comfortable in the conservatory with a coffee or afternoon tea.
Our room, overlooking the well-manicured garden to the side of the hotel, was stylish and comfortable, with an eclectic mix of antiques and modern art. Besides the great view, the main feature of the room was the enormous and fiendishly comfortable superking-sized bed.
The whole atmosphere at the Dev is quietly relaxing. Staff seemingly glide effortlessly from guest to guest making sure everyone’s needs are catered for from pre-dinner drinks, right through to your digestif. For dinner, we enjoyed the wild mushroom risotto, accompanied by a crisp Sauvignon Blanc as we planned what we would do the following day.
After a hearty breakfast, made with the finest local ingredients, we went for a walk to burn off some calories and enjoy the stunning scenery which has inspired many artists including John Ruskin and JMW Turner.
As guests of the hotel, we received complimentary parking permits for use on the Estate. There are various car parks to choose from and over 80 miles of footpaths. We parked at the Strid Wood car park at the northern end of the Estate and headed to the Strid (a series of waterfalls and rapids). The path winds down towards the River Wharfe quite gently for the most part, but there are a few steep descents. It’s a lovely walk from here to the Pavilion Café, which is a great place to stop for lunch.