Looking for the best restaurants in the Ribble Valley in Lancashire? From fine dining, to pubs, cafes and food halls, this guide has it all.
I’m so excited to share one of England’s best kept secrets with you! The Ribble Valley is located near Preston, a little way from Yorkshire and the Lake District. Perhaps due to its proximity to these famous beauty spots, it seems to have been a little overlooked. No longer though! This might just be your next British staycation…
The Ribble Valley is a stunning region, with lush countryside, dense forests and of course a few rivers too. As we drove around the narrow roads, we crossed bridges every few minutes, continually weaving in and out of the courses of the River Hodder and River Ribble.
While I’d suggest any trip to this region includes plenty of time outdoors (don’t miss the Pendle Hill walk), there are several gorgeous places to refuel too. When it comes to food, this part of Lancashire has an excellent reputation. From Michelin-star dining and cosy pubs, to cute cafes and food halls, there’s something for everyone.
So, if like me you plan your trips around your rumbling stomach, it’s time to find out about the best restaurants in the Ribble Valley. Coming up, my personal reviews of everywhere I ate and drank in a food-filled few days in this spectacular region of Lancashire.
Best Restaurants In The Ribble Valley
Northcote is one of the best luxury country house hotels in the Ribble Valley, and was awarded a Michelin star in 1996. Being a foodie, I was excited to step inside the kitchen to see head chef Lisa Goodwin-Allen and her team hard at work.
This is no ordinary hotel kitchen. It’s absolutely enormous, and even has a chef’s table to one side, which doubles as the hotel’s cookery school. I loved soaking up the buzz as I watched chefs chopping, frying, moulding and using their creative flair to produce stunning works of art.
We heard how Northcote’s cookery school has been hosting courses on everything from fish cookery and BBQs to pasta and pastry. It looked like a lovely place to gain some new skills, while being moments from the action in the professional kitchen.
We took our seats in the dining room and enjoyed an incredible 3-course lunch, featuring twists on classic dishes and a plethora of seasonal ingredients. I started with the wild mushrooms on toast – a deconstructed version of the classic featuring lots of varieties of mushrooms on a tasty crumb, with a parmesan tuile angled on top. It was absolutely delicious and the delicate presentation instantly put a smile on my face.
My main course was one of my favourite dishes I’ve eaten in a long time. The colourful dish featured a salmon fillet on a bed of Isle of Wight tomatoes, with a wonderfully silky bouillabaisse sauce. It was absolutely divine – sweet, rich, salty, and moreish!
The service at Northcote was professional but still personable. I liked hearing the waiters’ descriptions of each dish, and listened avidly to their recommendations when it came to wine pairings. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience from start to finish, and it’s easy to see why this is one of the best restaurants in the Ribble Valley.
Freemasons at Wiswell
There are a lot of pubs in the Ribble Valley, and many have a speciality. Some are proper boozers, some have pretty surroundings, some specialise in steak, while others focus on fine dining. I’d describe The Freemasons at Wiswell as one of the best pubs in the Ribble Valley for a special occasion.
From the outside it looks like a cosy country pub, but the food here is on another level. Chef Steven Smith offers several menus, including the sophisticated ‘Taste of Freemasons’ tasting menu. This four-course extravaganza combines fine-dining with local flavours. It was a rich, indulgent menu, but wow was it tasty!
The starter, a cheese and woodland mushroom fondue soup accompanied by a truffled cheese hot dog was absolutely incredible. I knew from this point onwards we were in for a decadent evening!
Over the course of a few hours we enjoyed a roast loin of tandoori cod with a flavoursome prawn curry sauce. Then came the fillet and cheek of beef, served with fat chips, followed by a peanut butter parfait – like a posh Snickers ice cream!
All the dishes were presented elegantly, and service was efficient, but unfussy – just as you’d want in country pub.
This is another spot in the Ribble Valley with a chef’s table as well as cookery courses. If you’re looking for a special treat for a foodie, you could book a gourmet break here, with a cookery course, dinner and an overnight stay in one of four luxurious bedrooms.
Stanley House Hotel & Spa
Set in 54 acres of rolling countryside, Stanley House is a spectacular country manor hotel, ideal for those planning a luxurious trip to the Ribble Valley.
We enjoyed lunch in the courtyard at Mr Fred’s, the hotel’s smart brasserie. The setting is amazing, with views over manicured gardens to the 17th century manor house. As we had a spa treatment booked in (more on that coming up) I opted for two light starters, rather than a heavy main course.
The colourful dishes were beautifully presented. The beetroot salad with goat’s cheese featured three different types of beetroot, and the smoked salmon came with a tangy cucumber and citrus mayonnaise. A light and summery feast.
After lunch I spent an hour in the award-winning spa, enjoying a blissful body scrub. The spa at Stanley House is popular with those craving relaxation, and boasts serene views over rolling hills. The body scrub I had is known for increasing circulation and eliminating stress. I definitely left feeling refreshed. In fact, I pretty much floated out of there!
Red Pump Inn, Bashall Eaves
As we travelled around the Ribble Valley meeting locals, they were keen to know where we were planning to go for our meals. As soon as we mentioned the Red Pump Inn, everyone said how good the steaks were. We couldn’t wait to try them!
We visited on a Wednesday evening and I’m happy to say it was full. It’s always lovely to see places busy during the week, especially considering what’s been going on over the last year.
We enjoyed some tasty rib eye steaks with all the trimmings – chips, veg and sauces. I can officially say that the peppercorn sauce is one of the best I’ve ever tasted. I have no idea what the secret ingredient is, but wow would I like the recipe!
As with many of the Ribble Valley’s country pubs, the Red Pump Inn also offers accommodation. Rather than check in to one of the rooms above the pub, we decided to opt for a more adventurous experience… a yurt!
There are several luxury glamping yurts within the grounds of the pub, so you can enjoy a delicious steak dinner, then venture to your chic tent for a magical sleep. It felt like something out of a fairy tale! If you’re looking for a break with a difference, I’d definitely recommend a break here.
The Inn at Whitewell
We stopped by The Inn at Whitewell after following one of the Ribble Valley’s ‘Walks With Taste’ – a series of self-guided walks that show off the region’s landscapes in combination with stops at local pubs. This circular walk is just under 5km and takes you through spectacular countryside and includes a river crossing using a set of stepping stones.
The historic inn is part of the Duchy of Lancaster Estate, and has been passed down the monarchy throughout history. So, if you fancy eating at The Queen’s place, this is about as close as you’ll probably get!
We opted for some light dishes of a beetroot and goat’s cheese salad, a plate of gravadlax with pickled cucumber and some patê. The sun was shining and we were sat in a lovely spot on the terrace looking out over the River Hodder and the countryside.
It’s an ideal place for a snack or a drink if you’re walking in the area. In the colder months, this would be one of my top picks for a cosy pub experience too. I can already picture myself tucking into a Sunday roast with a log fire roaring next to me!
Bowland Beer Hall, Clitheroe
I really liked exploring Clitheroe. It’s a buzzy town with a castle, lots of shops and some upmarket places to eat and drink. Without a doubt, one of the coolest spots in Clitheroe is Bowland Beer Hall – a part of the Holmes Mill complex.
The beer hall is home to one of the longest bars in Britain. It has 42 hand pulls and at least 24 individual cask beers at any one time… and that’s just the start. If you’re a beer drinker, you’ll be in heaven!
While Macca enjoyed a tasting session, I was happy checking out the building’s unique design. Incorporating machinery from the old textiles mill, it’s a special place to go for a drink in the Ribble Valley. I particularly liked the Engine Room, which has huge pieces of original machinery in the middle.
Oh, and don’t worry if you’re not partial to a pint, you can also order a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, as well as a hearty menu of bar classics.
Bowland Food Hall, Clitheroe
Meanwhile, next door is Clitheroe’s smart food hall. It’s a huge building with every foodie delight you could dream of. As well as shelves and fridges stocked with everything from chilli sauce and cider to fresh pies and Lancashire cheese (including some by local favourite Leagram Organic Dairy), there are areas to eat in too.
Whether you fancy a coffee and a cake, a glass of wine and a charcuterie platter, or something more substantial, you can take a seat in the café area or outside on the benches. It’s a really lovely space (the kind of place I could spend hours!) plus it was encouraging to see so many local products on the shelves.
If you’re planning a day out in the country, you can organise picnic hampers via Holmes Mill. They’ll pack them full of popular items including freshly made pies and scotch eggs. We took one up to Bowland Knotts which was lovely! Great food with that backdrop – what’s not to like!
The Emporium, Clitheroe
Moments from Holmes Mill is The Emporium – a restaurant and bar with a dedication to interior design. A former chapel, the building has been turned into a showcase for beautiful interiors that you can peruse while sitting down for a bite to eat or a cocktail.
We stopped by for dinner one evening, enjoying a huge portion of mussels and a tasty spiced prawn dish. It was a nice environment for an evening in town, and I found myself eyeing up a funky mirror and a quirky clock while I probably should have been concentrating on the food!
PuddleDucks Tea Rooms, Dunsop Bridge
In case you didn’t know, Dunsop Bridge is the official centre of Great Britain. Forget Land’s End and John O’Groats, it’s time to put this quaint little village on the map!
If you do stop by, you absolutely have to visit PuddleDucks Tea Rooms. In an adorable spot near the river, it’s the perfect place for a cuppa and a homemade slice of cake. We sat out in the garden area enjoying the sunshine. The staff were so friendly – a real reminder of what northern hospitality is all about.
Mrs Dowsons Farm Park
Looking for somewhere fun to take the kids? They’ll adore Mrs Dowsons Farm Park! With cows, horses, sheep, al pacas, llamas and even emus, there’s plenty to keep your little ones amused.
Meanwhile, foodies should head straight to the café. Mrs Dowsons ice cream is legendary. After Amanda Dowson’s husband set up a dairy farm, she decided to launch an ice cream parlour on site. Talk about a marriage made in heaven! Since then Amanda has worked with the likes of Jamie Oliver and Heston Blumenthal, developing some seriously incredible (and often wacky) flavours. She also supplies many Lancashire restaurants with her delicious ice creams.
From mince pie, pear drop and strawberry, to bubblegum, vimto and matcha tea, there are lots of fun concoctions to choose from. The hard part? Choosing!
Where To Stay In The Ribble Valley
The Ribble Valley has a broad variety of accommodation options on offer. The majority of the places I’ve mentioned in this post, including Northcote, Stanley House Hotel & Spa, Freemasons at Wiswell, the Inn at Whitewell and the Red Pump Inn all offer B&B accommodation (including those fun yurts!)
Here are a few others that we stayed at during our trip to the Ribble Valley.
Mitton Hall Hotel
If you’re looking for an historic, luxury hotel in the Ribble Valley, Mitton Hall would be my top choice. This stunning country manor oozes romance and charm, and dates back to the 15th century.
What could be more appropriate for our first trip to the Ribble Valley than a stay in the Ribble Suite? The luxurious bedroom had a four-poster bed and views out to the gardens and countryside.
This is also a popular place to get married in the Ribble Valley. It really is a magical setting, I can only imagine how beautiful the wedding photos would be!
Spread Eagle Inn, Sawley
If you prefer staying in country pubs, definitely check out the Spread Eagle Inn in the tiny village of Sawley. It’s in an incredible location within the Forest of Bowland, with the River Ribble flowing along one side and the remains of a 12th century abbey on the other.
Rooms are smart, with chic furnishings and a country charm. It’s a great place to relax after a day’s walking or cycling. They also serve a hearty breakfast too – the perfect fuel for outdoor adventures.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my guide to some of the best restaurants in the Ribble Valley. Lancashire has so many great places to eat and stay, I can’t wait to hear where you choose!
A big thanks to Visit Ribble Valley for inviting us to explore this underrated and beautiful part of England. You can find out about some of the top things to do in the Ribble Valley here.
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