By Betsy Everett
A Dales holiday cottage rescued from dereliction just six years ago, was today named the best self-catering property in England.
The Byre, from Cottage in the Dales, owned by Diane and Andrew Howarth of Newbiggin in Bishopdale, has taken the gold award at the VisitEngland awards for excellence.
Against fierce competition from the best and most luxurious properties in the country, the Byre, which was on the verge of falling down when the Howarths bought it in 2011, and which had its first paying guests only two years later, took the envied title, Best Self-Catering Property of the Year 2017.
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“This is the proudest day ever for us. We are truly dumbfounded to be recognised by the tourism industry to be the best in England. Alongside having so many returning guests each year [the cottage is 98-99 per cent occupied throughout the year] this is our greatest reward. It doesn’t get any better than this,” said Diane.
But as the champagne corks popped and the the cheers went up at the awards ceremony in the Hilton Waldorf Hotel in London, Diane and Andrew were 6000 miles away, taking a rare break on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, to celebrate their thirtieth wedding anniversary.
When she knew they were in the top three in the country, having won the White Rose award in November for the best in Yorkshire, Diane could not believe that their first holiday in two years was to coincide with the day of the national awards.
She agonised over whether to break the vacation and travel home, but the cost, the distance, and the long journey would have been prohibitive.
“It would have been wonderful, but also the most expensive afternoon tea in history!” she said.
Representing them at the awards was daughter, Pippa, and family friend, Bethan Dean, who yesterday ran the London Marathon.
“We thought she’d definitely be ready for some carbs over afternoon tea at the Waldorf,” she added.
In November the Howarths won the White Rose award for best self-catering accommodation in Yorkshire, with The Byre and their other holiday cottage, Inglenook, in West Burton.
But winning the top award does not mean they will be resting on their laurels.
“We will continue to pride ourselves on delivering a uniquely personal experience, whether you are coming for the first time or returning for the tenth.”
Other finalists in the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence: Self-Catering Property of the Year 2017, were Lendal Tower, York, www.lendaltower.com and The Chestnuts, Burford, Oxfordshire, www.ecochiccottages.com