A luxury dog-friendly stay in the beautiful Peak District
It's a well-known fact that dogs and cattle don't tend to mix.
So much so that when ambling through the countryside with my pet whippet Snoopy, I go to great lengths to avoid confrontations in farmers' fields, with history usually suggesting such things don't end well.
But there's a lovely little place deep in Derbyshire that seems to turn that theory on its head. The Cow in picturesque Dalbury Lees is a luxury boutique inn nestled within the beautiful Peak District - and it's dog-friendly!
Previously the Black Cow pub, the 19th Century building underwent a radical transformation before reopening in December 2017, with its guests now able to stay thanks to the introduction of 12 new stylishly decorated and furnished bedrooms.
With an excited Snoopy in tow, we arrived as part of my 41st birthday celebrations, and what better way to mark the occasion than with a cosy family getaway in one of the most beautiful parts of rural England.
Driving into Dalbury Lees, a few miles away from the market town of Ashbourne, you can't miss The Cow, which proudly overlooks the village green.
It's a fairly remote location, so before venturing inside we opted to stretch our legs by exploring some of the nearby trails and footpaths.
Sadly, our attempts were aborted as the wet weather put pay to our efforts, but even walking a short distance it's clear The Cow is in the perfect place for people holidaying and trekking in the Peak District, whether it's to relax and recharge or to refresh and refuel for the miles ahead.
The rooms are en-suite, with each boasting their own individual styles, and all are luxurious and spacious, so there's plenty of room for the dog bed.
Downstairs there's a warm and roomy bar and restaurant which has been stripped back to reveal the heritage and character of the original building.
Giving up on the dog walk, it was the bar where we eventually settled as a pint and a gin in the dry and homely atmosphere clearly became the more appealing pastime.
After a drink and much-needed shower, there was time to slip on a bathrobe and sit back to watch Netflix for a couple of hours before heading down to dinner.
There are several menu options at The Cow, including small plates and bottomless brunch, but as it was Sunday our choice was between the traditional roasted meats and puddings, such as Dry Aged Roast Beef Sirloin and Roast Leg of Lamb, a Catch of the Day fish option, Warm Treacle Tart and Chocolate Cremeux. If I had one tip it would be to start with the Homemade Sourdough and Red Pepper Hummus - you won't be disappointed.
Pooch's don't miss out either. Tucked away on a cosy blanket by our table, Snoopy was barely noticed by fellow diners, apart from when he surfaced to claim the odd treat from the bar's special 'doggie biscuit' jar.
Breakfast is served every day with delights such as Eggs Benedict and Poached Finnan Haddock to enjoy and The Cow has unique features outside too, such as the unexpected and innovative addition of electric car charging points in the car park.
With such forward-thinking ideas, it's clear The Cow's owners are investing in the future, which is why I expect it to continue being one of the most popular Derbyshire countryside destinations for many more years to come.
Address: The Cow, The Green, Dalbury Lees, Ashbourne, Derbyshire, DE6 5BE
Telephone: 01332 824297
Opening hours: Sunday-Thursday 12noon-11pm, Friday and Saturday 12noon-11.30pm.
Dining: Monday-Thursday 12noon-2.30pm and 6pm-9pm, Friday-Saturday 12noon-2.30pm and 6pm-9.30pm, and Sunday 12noon-8pm.