Michelin-trained chef Dominique Ashford has tuned into the slower rhythms of nature after swapping the top end restaurants of London for wild food and foraging in the Forest of Bowland
For a really wild adventure in one of the most remote parts of the Forest of Bowland, Dale House Barn ticks a lot of boxes.
This pretty farmhouse B&B and camping barn is the ideal location for a peaceful rural retreat to recharge the batteries or an action-packed weekend of walking, cycling, foraging and cooking.
Nestling beneath the craggy outcrops of Bowland Knotts, high above the sparkling waters of Stocks Reservoir, Dale House Barn is the perfect base from which to explore Bowland on foot or by bike.
And there’s no need to rough it in this isolated location. Dominique is an experienced chef and her cookery and bread making courses are incredibly popular with guests. As you’d expect, the food is pretty awesome, too and most of Dominique’s guests book in for dinner and her legendary breakfast while staying at Dale House.
Dominique worked primarily as a pastry chef for over 25 years in some of the best kitchens in the UK – including the Roux brothers, Terence Conran’s Le Pont de la Tour, The Houses of Parliament and Aiden Byrne.
Dominique now uses her skills and imagination to devise dishes that include as much wild, seasonal, local and sustainable produce as possible with an aim to have zero waste.
Partner Andrew is a keen outdoorsman and a local game keeper who provides Dale House with a steady supply of venison, rabbit, wild duck and pigeon. And despite the accent on local game, vegetarians and vegans are well catered for too!
Complemented by foraged herbs, leaves and berries and locally grown vegetables, be it breakfast, afternoon tea or dinner, mealtimes are always a highlight at Dale House.
Dominique hosts a wide range of food and rural skills courses, which all take place in the farmhouse kitchen and a purpose-built professional kitchen.
Each course is limited to maximum of five people with most run as private workshops for family and friends. Guests will chat, cook and eat their way through the day with plenty of opportunity to get involved on a practical level too.
For the more actively inclined, the traffic-free mountain bike trails of Gisburn Forest are a short ride away and a hilly 10k trail run around Stocks Reservoir is easily accessible.
Quiet road cycling routes and miles of wilderness walks start right from the farmhouse gate and if you need a bit of help to negotiate the hilly terrain, Ribble Valley E-bikes can deliver electric bikes direct to the door.
During the autumn and winter months, the Forest of Bowland’s dark skies offer amazing views of the planets and constellations while the onset of spring heralds the arrival of a host of rare visitors, including ospreys, ring ouzel, curlew and sky dancing hen harriers.
Hearty breakfasts with homemade bread, granola and preserves, eggs from our hens and locally sourced bacon and sausages. Packed lunches, hampers and picnics are also available. A perfect location for exploring the Forest of Bowland.
Prices: From £75 per night
Green Tourism Bronze and Dark Sky Friendly
Dale house barn and B&B, Dale head farm, Slaidburn, Lancashire, BB7 4TS
01200 411 095
Dominique sources food from local suppliers as far as possible and many of her ingredients come from within a mile or so of the farmhouse. She also ensures her cleaning and washing products are sustainably sourced and is a huge advocate of cycling and walking to explore the amazing landscapes direct from Dale House.
By visiting and shopping at local cafés, inns and artisan producers, you’re supporting the local rural economy, which increasingly depends on tourism to supplement declining incomes from farming.