Inside a real gem on the banks of the River Wyre
I don’t leave the house as often as I should, for reasons besides work or following The Mighty Stalybridge Celtic®, but this time last week I had good reason. A very good reason as to why East of the M60 was quiet.
My sister’s wedding in Pilling, last Thursday afternoon. A really joyous occasion, well organised too.
A week ago, yours truly and his elders (well, mother and father to be precise), stayed over at the Shard Riverside Hotel. For us, it was halfway between Poulton-le-Fylde railway station plus my sister’s church and wedding reception. Two nights there, before and after the service.
The Shard Riverside Hotel
In recent years the hotel has been extended, though much of the building dates from 1766. The oldest part of the hotel is on the site of the old ferryman’s cottage. This not only predates the present Shard Bridge, but also the previous one some metres closer to the hotel. Prior to the 1990s, the original bridge incurred a toll – of just 10p in its twilight years.
The car park and outdoor seating area is marked by a gravestone. It belonged to one time residents the Renshaw family, and is in memoriam of a canine companion who saved his owner from drowning. The dog outlived him by six years after his heroic act.
Today, its 23 furnished en suite rooms offer a welcome alternative to the hustle and bustle of Blackpool. Even so, the Golden Mile is less than 30 minutes drive away. Blackpool Transport’s 2C bus to Knott End stops nearby too. It has been owned by the Hurst family since 1999. Most recently they have added The Mill on Conder Green near Glasson Dock, a former Mitchells house on the banks of the Lancaster Canal.
Two nights in the Shard Riverside Hotel
There is three types of rooms: standard, deluxe and luxury signature. We stayed in the standard rooms, though blessed with a view of the Wyre estuary. Alas for us, the scorching sunshine of a typical August didn’t emerge till departure day. Thankfully, spending 12 hours in a hired suit in cooler weather worked in my favour.
My single room was compact; with the single bed between the window and the wall of my en suite, I thought ‘there was no way I could fit in that alcove’. All six feet of myself did, surprisingly. Creature comforts include a flat screen television with Freeview (which I didn’t use apart from twenty minutes viewing of Room 101) and free WiFi. (I could have added some content to East of the M60, but as always didn’t have the time – believe me, trying to write 200, let alone 2,000 words is an ordeal on a smartphone). Not forgetting the obligatory tea and coffee making facilities (yours truly had a Galaxy hot chocolate which kept him awake). The free WiFi wasn’t only unlimited; it was set to a decent speed with a good signal.
The real piece de resistance is their ground floor bar and restaurant. Our first night’s meal was a Steak and Ale Pudding with pickled vegetables and mashed potato. The suet pastry was light; chunks of steak and kidney were generous and of high quality; the button mushroom and its Bowland Brewery ale gravy topped it. For dessert, a gorgeous White Chocolate and Raspberry cake. To drink, a pint of Bowland Brewery’s Hen Harrier, a joyous golden ale (4%).
The food wasn’t only well presented, it is locally sourced; something that the Hurst family is passionate about in their establishments. Quality wise, miles away from the usual stuff you get from supermarket chains (with the possible exception of Booths’ stores perhaps).
This was evident among the two cooked breakfasts we had. On the first morning, a nice dippy and tasty fried egg with a pristine thin link sausage. Bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes and black pudding – gorgeous. On the second morning, the already superb breakfast was even better. This time, two thick links, a creamy scrambled egg (could have eaten that by the bucketload – it was that good!) and a juicy tomato (a Blackpool tomato, of course). Bacon: top notch; mushrooms: very good; black pudding: boiled to perfection – texture and mouthfeel just perfect.
If breakfasts were rated the same as UEFA Champions’ League sides, this would have been Real Madrid (Alfredo di Stefano era, late 1950s as the European Champions’ Cup). If Thursday’s was Real Madrid versus Stade Reims (W. 4-3, 1955-56), Friday’s was their 7-3 thrashing of Eintracht Frankfurt at Hampden Park.
After our first and only evening meal, we retired to the bar and had another two pints of Hen Harrier. Each of our three pints well kept, at the right temperature for a cask conditioned ale. By nighttime, the bar ceases to be the sole preserve of its guests. It is a popular watering hole among Hambletonians being one of two public houses in the village. That night, it was patronised by members of a local sailing club.
For an overnight stay and/or an evening meal, I have no hesitation in recommending the Shard Riverside Inn. If you wish to explore the Fylde Coast, Wyre and Lune estuaries, it is a great starting point or halfway as you drive from Lytham to Lancaster. For a romantic night away or a fishing trip, it is superb with its choice of rooms. The locally sourced food and real ale makes a stay at the Shard Riverside a must for gastrophiles. If your room looks out to the Wyre estuary, its sunsets are a joy to behold.
As for shortcomings, well, I couldn’t find any besides my inability to operate my en suite room’s shower. I would have preferred a bath instead of a shower cubicle, and I’m a stickler for having a proper bath if I’m staying overnight anywhere. (Which is more to do with my opinion on hotel/guest house showers in general).
If you wish to be close to Blackpool or Fleetwood, though some distance from the resorts, the Shard Riverside Inn is well worth considering. The views, real ale, food… need I say more.
Stuart Vallantine stayed in a single room at the Shard Riverside Inn, with his room facing the Wyre estuary. Prices at the Shard start from £59.95 per night including breakfast for a single room. Double rooms start from £75.00 per night (£37.50 per person), again including breakfast.
- Nearest railway station: Poulton-le-Fylde (2.5 miles);
- Nearest ferry terminal: Heysham (25.2 miles – regular sailings to Douglas [Isle of Man]);
- Nearest airport: Blackpool, Squires Gate (9.1 miles);
- Fleetwood: 7.2 miles;
- Blackpool: 6 miles;
- St. Annes on the Sea: 11.3 miles;
- Lytham: 12.3 miles;
- Preston: 16.4 miles;
- Lancaster: 18.4 miles.
Say to the driver you would like to get off at the ‘Shard Bridge Inn’, then alight at A588 Shard Road stop.
- 2C: Blackpool – Poulton-le-Fylde – Hambleton – Stalmine – Knott End (Blackpool Transport);
- 86: Fleetwood – Cleveleys – Hambleton – Knott End (Stagecoach in Lancashire).
- The Shard Riverside Inn: website, including online booking facilities and pictures of each room;
- Blackpool Transport: municipal operator’s website with details of fares, timetables and the like;
- Stagecoach Bus: national website covering all bus operations from Ramsgate to Wick.
S.V., 26 August 2014.