The Lord Crewe Arms is a stunning historic inn which takes pride of place in the heart of a picture postcard Northumberland village. Be warned though, it is the middle of nowhere. Its impressive stone buildings were once part of an Abbey. In 1165 an order of religious canons dressed in white arrived here and set out to peacefully tend the land until Henry VIII had other ideas. The estate was then privately owned, latterly by Nathanial Lord Crewe until his death in 1721 after which it was bequeathed to a charity who stills owns the village today. Nowadays it’s a heavenly bolthole run in conjunction with Chalcot Hotel group and has 21 tastefully decorated rooms. The main building has tonnes of historic features and a country house atmosphere. And as the locals say, ‘howay into reception and warm up by the fire.’
Budget or boutique?
A boutique hostelry with casual elegance but a relaxed vibe.
Our ‘cosy’ room, Newbiggin, is sited in a courtyard so you really feel part of village life. It is spacious and the king sized bed makes for a great night's sleep. There is a Nespresso machine and homemade fudge to keep hunger pangs at bay, and a retro style Roberts digital radio. In the bedside drawer, a cute touch was an OS map, compass and torch.
Wining and dining
You’d be a fool not to have your evening meal here - be frugal and snack on sourdough bread and butter or mixed olives. Or feast in style with dishes, like farmhouse terrine on toasted brioche, or warm goat's cheese crotin served with tomatoes and a sauce made with herbs plucked straight from the kitchen garden. Chef Emma Broom uses local seasonal produce to create a changing menu. On our visit main courses included salt aged rib eye steak, lamb rump with hay baked carrots, roasted wild sea bass or a galette of caramelised cauliflower puree with Cropwell Bishop stilton. We were tempted by the heavenly dessert: salted caramel chocolate mousse.
Breakfast can either be selected from a sumptuous spread of cereal, pastries, freshly squeezed juices, spreads or jars of overnight oats or a full cooked Northumberland breakfast. That seemed excessive so we opted for smashed avocado, with poached eggs on sourdough with toasted seeds and a sprinkling of yeast flakes.
Worth getting out of bed for
The small village of Blanchland is picturesque. There is a post office, church and The White Monk refectory tearoom which sells classic comforting fare such as Bubble, Squeak and bacon pie, soup or home cooked ham and pease pudding stottie and cake. The Abbey Church is also worth a visit and the Blanchland village hall & Felon’s bar opens every Friday and Saturday night for a true taste of Northumberland nightlife. With the whole of the North Pennine moors on the doorstep head out into the great outdoors. The Crewe is an ideal base for shooting parties at this time of year and we spotted at two. Instead of bagging a brace of partridge, we gently strolled alongside the river. Exploring the village itself is like stepping back in time and it's not a surprise to discover that it has been a location for filming.
The Lord Crewe Arms is a perfect base for outdoor types, so the boot room has an assortment of wellies and waterproofs that you can borrow, a godsend if you forget yours. Just leave your wet weather gear to dry while you make the most of the wood burning fires inside. Dogs are made to feel very welcome; dog bed and treats and four legged guests can even enjoy a Woof beer with their owner in the Crypt bar.
Guest book comments
Find a temporary piece of sanctuary for quiet contemplation in the North Pennines, or lose yourself completely and never leave.
Prices start from £189 per night in a cosy room for bed and breakfast for two. Lord Crewe Arms, The Square, Blanchland, Consett DH8 9SP (01434 677 100 www.lordcrewearmsblanchland.co.uk)