The Derby Arms, Gateway To The Forest Of Bowland
The Queen once told a friend that were she ever to retire, she’d like nothing better than to see out the rest of her days in the Ribble Valley. Not the Scottish Highlands or Snowdonia, the Lake District or the Cotswolds but the Ribble Valley, which for many – if they’ve even heard of it at all – is just a flash of blue water as the M6 crosses the River Ribble at Preston. But follow the river to the east and you enter a timeless world of rolling green valleys that was the inspiration for the bucolic ‘Shire’ in JRR Tolkein’s Lord Of The Rings. Press on further east towards the Yorkshire border and the landscape morphs into a lonely world of unspoilt fells and moorland, the bulk of which is designated the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Covering some 300 square miles and incorporating 44 villages and the bustling market towns of Clitheroe and Longridge, this is the Ribble Valley.
And it’s not far outside of Longridge, on the road to Chipping and at the western gateway to the Forest of Bowland, that you’ll find The Derby Arms. There’s been a pub on this site since the early eighteenth century but it’s only recently that it has been utterly transformed under the stewardship of the Seafood Pub Co, a dynamic and fast-growing pub group owned and run by the Neve family, a name that’s practically synonymous with seafood in the northwest. This family of Fleetwood fish merchants only opened their first venue in 2011– the Oyster & Otter at Feniscowles, near Blackburn – but now have seven pubs across Lancashire, each with their own distinct personality, four of which have accommodation and all of which – of course -- boast the freshest fish and seafood going.
But more about the food later. The Derby Arms has six individually decorated bedrooms, all in the main building and all fitted out to a very high standard. (Room 1 is the pick of the bunch.) If you’re accustomed to bedrooms in pubs being either a) tired or b) part of a hotel chain then you’re in for a pleasant surprise here. The fittings and fancies in both bedrooms and ensuite bathrooms really are top-notch and akin to what you might find in an upmarket hotel. Free wifi and flat-screen TVs are thrown in for good measure. And it’s great value too with rates starting from £85 for a double with breakfast midweek. Preston is only nine miles away and the M6 even closer.
But as nice as the bedrooms are, it’s the food that’s the main event. Fish and seafood do feature prominently, as you would expect, but there are plenty of other temptations. The pub basics are amply covered - so if all you fancy is a fish pie or battered haddock and chips with mushy peas you will not be left disappointed. But how about a salt cod and king prawn stew with chickpeas, spinach, alioli and crusty bread? Or chargrilled monkfish with sherry and saffron paella, sweet peppers and parsley and lemon dressing from the Derby Arms’ Japanese-style Robata Grill? Or perhaps Pig on a Stick – slow cooked pork belly with chorizo and pork sausage, rosemary potatoes and apple sauce? Then there’s the specials boards. These change daily, based on what’s in season or freshly caught, and you’ll find a selection of both starters and mains to choose from. There are just a few portions of each dish available (they really are special!) and as they say on the menu – ‘when it’s gone…it’s gone’.
With its charming ivy-clad exterior, the Derby Arms very much looks the part of the characterful country pub. But whilst some venues take the rustic theme and run with it to the point of caricature, that’s not the case here. The interior design carefully – and successfully – mixes the modern, the traditional and the eclectic. There’s a welcoming central bar and three distinct dining areas, two of which boast feature fireplaces which provide a real focal point during the winter months. Wines are housed in a bright, glass-fronted floor-to-ceiling cabinet that wouldn’t look out of place in a chic city centre bar (it’s a well-thought-out wine selection too). And quirky touches like the lighting feature in the main dining room -- a random mish-mash of assorted old lamps -- add a real touch of designer polish.
And that’s really what the Derby Arms is all about – that little bit extra. So whether it’s a meal out, a business trip or a short getaway to a beautiful and unspoilt part of the country, this is a venue that’s well worth seeking out.
To make a booking or find out more about your stay at the Derby Arms.
Seafood Pub Company
The Seafood Pub Company is a multi-award-winning group of gastropubs in the North West. A pub group with a difference, each location has its own personality and menu but with food and drink at its heart and soul and this has been recognised by various awards and accolades including The Publican's Best Food Offer, Restaurant Magazine's Pub Company of the Year, Development Chef Awards' Best Pub Group Menu and Best Group Chef, Lancashire Life's Dining Pub of the Year, Lancashire Life's Restaurant of the Year and Lancashire Tourism Award's Tourism Pub of the Year. Behind the scenes is Executive Chef Antony Shirley who has over 18 years' experience of producing quality creative dishes from the very best produce. Outstanding surroundings are delivered by Executive Chairman Andrew McLean who takes care of the developments. His wealth of experience gives all the venues their individual looks and wow factor.
All of the Seafood Pub Company Venues