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Top 10 Riverside Hotels

by Adrian Mourby

There is something about water – lakes, lochs, rivers, and the sea itself - that answers a very deep need in us all. We are drawn to it. We want to swim in it , sail across it or just walk alongside it listening to the sounds of benign burbling. A day spent walking along a river is never wasted. It revives us in the way that a day walking along a road or motorway never could.

Perhaps it's because we humans evolved from aquatic creatures, but can never go back. Water represents 71% of this planet but we are restricted to the dry 29%. Is that why we crave proximity to this missing part of our inheritance? Yes water echoes in our primeval memory but it’s also physically essential to our existence.

Anyway, such musings apart, there are a lot of hotels and wayside inns that allow us time to explore this mystic connection - and it’s hardly surprising. From earliest times humans have travelled along rivers and needed to cross rivers and inns have always been positioned alongside there, at confluences and crossing points, to ease our journey. Today you can find some of the most interesting British hotels, pubs and wayside inns along our rivers. Here are just ten that I like.

Showing below are all 5 records in "Top 10 Riverside Hotels"

Gliffaes Hotel (Hotel)

Gliffaes Road, Crickhowell

Gliffaes Hotel, Gliffaes Road, Crickhowell, Powys

Don’t be surprised to find fishing rods and wellies in the porch of this Victorian parson's house up in the Brecon Beacons National Park. In 1885 the Reverend West, a Welsh clergyman, moved to his new house on the River Usk. West was a keen fly-fisherman and so he built his dream home very near to the river. The Usk or Afon Wysg rises on the northern slopes of the Black Mountain in the westernmost part of the National Park. It flows on down past Gliffaes to the picturesque towns of Crickhowell and Abergavenny and its name derives from an Ancient British word meaning "abounding in fish".

So it seems Rev West obviously knew what he was doing regarding location, but Gliffaes proved an ambitious and expensive building to construct. It had a tall and unnecessary Italianate tower, a folly made fashionable by Queen Victoria’s Osborne House, and by the time the Reverend West had completed his new home he had spent his way through three inheritances. After his death the house was subsequently let to and sold on to various Welsh dignitaries before becoming a hotel in 1936.

Whether you want to fish or just walk along the Usk, Gliffaes is a beautifully relaxing hotel for a weekend stay. The owners, James, Susie and Peta will even arrange rods, waders and a local ghillie for you. Gliffaes is also ideal for those who want a first-class meal at the end of a day tramping the Beacons.

Tuddenham Mill (Hotel)

High Street, Tuddenham, Tuddenham

Tuddenham Mill, High Street, Tuddenham, Suffolk

Tuddenham Mill sits on a tributary of the River Lark. The mill stream that powered this old flour mill until 1954 now forms a pleasant watercourse in front of the hotel and you can see it through glass floor panels passing underneath where the mill wheels once turned. The picturesque mill stream, overhung by long green willows is also home to a number of swans and ducks.

Two miles north of Tuddenham the mill stream joins the Lark River and here walkers can join the Lark Valley Path between Mildenhall and Bury St Edmunds.

There are a number of bedrooms in the old white clapboard mill with two - Mill Room and Mill Room East- that have bathtubs overlooking the stream through picture windows. There is also a modern extension called the Mill Stream block that overlooks the stream. Eating long and eating well is another good reason to visit Tuddenham Mill. Under head chef Lee Bye the Mill is one of only two restaurants in Suffolk with 3 AA rosettes.

The Shibden Mill Inn (Pub with Rooms)

Shibden Mill Fold, Shibden, Halifax

The Shibden Mill Inn, Shibden Mill Fold, Halifax, West Yorkshire

Shibden Mill Inn in West Yorkshire gets its name from the valley that it overlooks. “Shibdene” originally meant Sheep Dene (or valley) for in the past this land was heavily involved in wool production. Three hundred and fifty years ago a stream flowing down past the Shibden Inn made it possible for a mill to operate on this spot too. The mill is long gone now but the inn remains and down below it, across Whiskers Lane the beck joins Shibden Brook and flows on down to Halifax. Since Victorian times people in Halifax have come up here to walk and picnic. Today Shibden Mill Inn is a pleasant spot for walkers to rest, as it’s just off the circular Calderdale Way. It’s also only eight miles across country from Mytholmroyd, the childhood home – and inspiration – of poet laureate Ted Hughes.

The whitewashed inn itself is an extensive collection of rooms. Its brightly-painted bar offers dishes with wonderful names like Gloucester Old Spot Pork Chops with Sage Mash- just what you need after a good day’s river walking.

Dial House Hotel (Pub with Rooms)

High Street, Bourton-on-the-Water

Dial House Hotel, High Street, Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire

The Windrush river rises in the Cotswold Hills and flows for about 35 miles through a number of unbelievably pretty villages including Burford, the village of Windrush itself and Bourton-on-the-Water, before entering the Thames.

In Bourton – the epitome of mellow Cotswold cuteness – the shallow Windrush is the venue for “river football” every August, which is an event as crazy as it sounds. This game of village football is played between two teams of six players the length of the Windrush as it passes through Bourton. The match has been played for over 100 years now and not surprisingly everyone gets very wet indeed, including spectators.

Sitting somewhat above all this – but still very close to the Windrush - is Dial House which dates back to 1698. The hotel whose Royal Afternoon Tea is served from midday to 4pm every day is situated immediately opposite one of the low, stone-arched bridges that link the two sides of the village and that have led to Bourton-on-the-Water calling itself the "Venice of the Cotswolds". It's a two-minute walk down the river from Dial House to the famous 1930s model village, a replica of Bourton at 1:9 scale that contains a mini Windrush, a tiny Dial House and a miniature of the model village too.

The Devonshire Arms at Beeley (Restaurant)

Chatsworth Estate, Beeley, Matlock

The Devonshire Arms at Beeley, Chatsworth Estate, Matlock, Derbyshire

The Devonshire Arms stands on Beeley Brook on the Chatsworth Estate. The brook itself is a tributary of the tranqill River Derwent while the public house dates from 1747. Its interior manages to combines the period features of a historic inn with the functionality of a contemporary brasserie. The Duchess of Devonshire is said to have had a hand in the design of the hotel's 14 bedrooms which are shared between the pub itself and adjoining buildings.

Dog walkers will be pleased to know that there is is no restriction on canines, neither on the size of dog nor even number. So if you fancy taking your four-legged friend(s) for a morning walk along the Derwent this is the place to stay. It’s only two miles north along the river to Chatsworth House itself, one of the most splendid stately homes in England, which does a good lunch in its old coach house. In the evening eat at the pub where Chef Patron Alan Hill has created a menu of pub classics. He sources many ingredients locally from the gardens of the pub’s neighbours, traded on a unique ‘Beer for Produce’ bartering arrangement.

If you want to follow the Derwent further it will take you through the Peak District National Park or to the charming old spa of Matlock Bath which Ruskin visited with enthusiasm and Byron compared - with poetic licence - to Switzerland. Maybe he was just carried away by proximity to a great British river.

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