Nestled at the edge of the Howardian Hills, the picture-postcard village of Crayke is surrounded by one of North Yorkshire’s most impressive landscapes. Not only that, it’s also home to the Durham Ox, an award-winning pub with rooms that offers an idyllic rural retreat for those looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of nearby York.

This quintessentially English village inn is 300 years old and has been owned by the same family – the Ibbotsons – for the past 25 years. The Durham Ox is named after the famous shorthorn bull, which was born in the late eighteenth century and features in paintings by Thomas Weaver and John Boultbee. Its name also serves as a reminder of Crayke’s past, as the village remained a part of Durham until 1844.

The Durham Ox’s menu is shaped by the seasons but whenever you visit you can always choose from a varied range of dishes made using locally-sourced meat, game, fresh fish and seafood. Among the starters are options like sticky belly pork in a soy and sesame dressing, or a plate of smoked salmon, gravadlax and roulade served with dill crème fraiche. Mains include steaks and grills, market fish of the day from Hodgson’s of Hartlepool or ‘comfort classics’, which include vegetarian choices like a mushroom and grilled halloumi burger served with pesto, onion rings and triple cooked chips. Children can tuck into a smaller portion of their choice from the main menu – there are no fish fingers here. Behind the Ox’s bar, you’ll find fine wines, champagnes and local ales, as well as cocktails including a Yorkshire Spritz.

If you’d like to treat yourself to an overnight stay, the inn offers 5* accommodation with eight individually-styled double bedrooms to choose from. Five of these reside in converted stone outbuildings that open onto a leafy outdoor terrace with pergolas. Each room is well-equipped with a TV, hair dryer, individually controlled heating and luxury bath products but they also retain plenty of rustic charm with exposed beams and prettily-patterned textiles. There’s also a converted Studio Suite located above the pub itself, while for the ultimate indulgent getaway there’s the Pool Villa and Pool Cabin, which both come with their very own spa pools. A folding children’s bed can be added to most rooms and dogs are also welcome, although you’ll have to pay a small additional charge for your four-legged friend.

The Durham Ox provides the perfect base from which to explore the surrounding Howardian Hills, perhaps visiting the ruins of the mediaeval monastery of Byland Abbey or taking a walk in Yearsley Woods, where you can spot Buzzards and Goshawks as well as less commonly seen songbirds like the Redstart.

Alternatively, you can head to Helmsley for a day of shopping and sightseeing, or call at the National Trust’s Nunnington Hall before passing through quaint villages like Hovingham and Slingsby on your way into Malton, ‘Yorkshire’s food capital’.

Images- @thedurhamox