A shoot-friendly establishment, the White Swan Inn Pickering scores highly amongst its sporting guests.
As an enthusiastic Yorkshire-phile, I was really looking forward to seeing Pickering, a small market town I regularly pass through but have only once had the opportunity to spend longer than a gear change in. With the North York Moors on the doorstep, Pickering’s various establishments are well used to the sight of tweeds, dog leads or Discovery break lights during the season and The White Swan Inn is no exception.
Check-in was friendly and swift and the rooms close enough to make it a short hop between setting our luggage down and having a bit of an explore. We sat out in The Bothy prior to dinner, a modern lounge with wood beams many would kill to have as a conservatory, shoot lodge or (shudder) man cave. While shooting parties can make use of an intimate private dining room within the hotel, larger parties would be foolish not to make The Bothy their base at lunch or the end of the day – not least because of the honesty bar and numerous settees across which to drape themselves.
The inn proclaims Yorkshire to be “the pantry of England” and its kitchen, led by head chef Darren Clemmit, draws ingredients from its hills, seas and fields throughout the year – not least the meat from the Ginger Pig in Levisham. The kitchen is not so narrow-minded that suppliers farther away don’t get a look in – simplicity and seasonality are at the core of their ethos – and their two AA rosettes are thoroughly well deserved. Wine is an important part of the menu (it’s also literally everywhere in the restaurant) and the link with merchant Bon Coeur in nearby Masham is another feather in its cap.
Some 21 bedrooms are available, including several Hideaway rooms within the confines of an old stable block. We stayed in one of the latter and it was here I felt the inn might look to change something – however small. With a free standing bath on the ground floor across from a chaise longue there will be myriad ways to enjoy whatever is on the wall-mounted television, and call me fussy, but the two storey affair wasn’t somewhere one could spend a great deal of time in without getting restless. If you view your room as somewhere to leave your things and be comfortable at bedtime then ignore my pettiness, especially when there is so much to explore and enjoy in this well-drilled, shoot-aware establishment.
Cost: From £149 (rates for shooting parties available)
Shoots nearby: Place Newton, Black Park, Ravenswick, Wykeham and Danby amongst others
Scores for the White Swan Inn Pickering
Catering: Terrific. You’ll get proper portions from this kitchen and will do well not to loosen your belt when the bill comes. 9/10
Accommodation: Our Hideaway room was comfortable but lacked character. 7/10
Atmosphere: We were amongst walkers rather than sportsman during our stay so it wasn’t perhaps as lively as it would be during the season. That said we were thankful The Bothy was near silent throughout an intensely relaxing evening. 8/10
Service: Young, knowledgeable and highly professional. 8/10
Suitability for shooters: There are gun storage facilities on site, dogs are welcome in certain rooms and there is a choice of private dining facilities for shooting parties. The inn also has links to hired loaders, shooting instructors, vehicle hire companies and shoot day photographers. 9/10