The Duncombe Arms, Derbyshire, Peak District

The Duncombe Arms, Derbyshire, Peak District

As perfect for outdoor enthusiasts as it is for those who want to go off-grid without forgoing modern luxuries, The Duncombe Arms, a Michelin-accredited pub with rooms, brings together country-chic design and a great Sunday roast on the southern fringe of the Peak District.

Famed for its vast, brooding landscape, the Peak District is a
go-to for lovers of the great outdoors. Yet even the unenthusiastic
rambler will find it hard not to fall for the quaint Derbyshire
town of Ashbourne on the southern cusp of the national park. It’s a
great spot for a UK staycation.

It’s here that The Duncombe Arms, a Michelin-accredited pub with
rooms, strikes the balance between understated and elevated,
placing focus on details without being at all pretentious. It’s
just a 15-minute drive from the town centre and in easy distance of
the Dovedale hiking trail so there’s activity enough nearby to fill
a weekend. There is, however, a chance you’ll be tempted to linger
in the Walnut House, where its charismatic bedrooms mimic the
country-chic appeal of the pub and its picturesque garden. Plus,
it’s pretty hard to drag yourself across the fells after Duncombe’s
unbeatable Sunday roast.


Each individually designed room in Walnut House is full of
eclectic design details that mix the traditional with the modern.
Open the doors to the Green Room (or, Room 10) and discover
first-hand why this leafy colour has earned itself a calming
reputation. The spacious double is cleverly arranged with an
olive-hued wardrobe, taupe textiles and a brown, leather-clad chair
– features that feel akin to traditional country-house style but
wouldn’t be out of place in a city dwelling. In clever contrast,
the striking graphic wallpaper and sculptural statement lamps put
an artistic spin on the look. Everything is in keeping with the
colour palette, even the toiletries in the bathroom and the views
outside the French windows, which span the unspoiled Derbyshire

What’s for breakfast?

There’s no breakfast menu as such, but whether it’s continental
or cooked that you favour, the kitchen will accommodate. Dishes
come beautifully presented and accompanied with a selection of teas
or strong, flavoursome coffee that will set you up for a day
climbing the district’s famous peaks.

How about lunch and dinner?

In 2020, The Duncombe Arms was awarded Michelin’s Bib Gourmand
for value and its menu changes with the seasons. The head chef
creates standout dishes that use the best-quality local produce
available, while all the breads, sauces and ice-creams are made on
site. At lunchtime, the bar menu offers smaller plates, sandwiches
and a traditional Ploughman’s plate, but the aforementioned Sunday
roast is what keeps locals coming back. This follows the à la carte
menu’s theme of championing flavour over portion size – the sign of
a confident dining establishment.

Is there a bar?

It goes without saying that the bar is of utmost importance
here. Wine is a key focus and the staff are knowledgeable in their
recommendations, offering famous and unexpected options that
promise to suit any palette. There is, of course, a sizeable draft
beer and spirits offering, too, which serve as a welcome
refreshment for cyclists after a lengthy cross-country ride.


Fresh, locally sourced milk is available from a small shared
fridge in the entrance hall of Walnut House and there’s a Nespresso
machine in each room as well as tea-making facilities. Bamford
toiletries fill the bathroom shelves and literature – both fiction
and travel-themed, including SUITCASE – can be
found in each room. Wrap up in a fluffy white dressing gown after a
hot bath and relax.

Things I should know

The rooms in Walnut House are perfect for couples or anyone
travelling solo but the pub also owns a small neighbouring cottage
that’s better suited to larger groups or families. It can host up
to six people and is available for full or half-week lets.

In terms of travel, driving to The Duncombe Arms is almost
essential as this quiet town isn’t particularly easy to get to on
public transport.

Within a short walk I can find…

The pub is surrounded by country lanes and rolling hills so, in
truth, there isn’t much to be found within a short walk, but drive
to the neighbouring town of Ashbourne and you’ll find
postcard-perfect cobbled streets, boutique shops and independent
cafés. Cycling enthusiasts will love the roads around the property
and anyone looking to get out in the English country air should
park at Dovedale and trek to the Stepping Stones to enjoy the kind
of views that make a staycation so appealing.

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