As our long awaited relocation to the Yorkshire Dales became a reality a few weeks ago, we thought it only fitting that our next blog post should be about our new found home, and what better way to celebrate our move than to do some research into the best pubs in the area.
The Yorkshire Dales is well known for having an excellent selection of country pubs, many retaining wonderful character and historic features – roaring fires, timber beams, flag stone floors and well-used bars. In fact, for many, a visit to one of these great pubs after a long walk is one of their favourite reasons for visiting the area.
In no particular order, these are our top five:
1. The Lister Arms, Malham
One of the busiest villages in the Dales thanks to the stunning limestone scenery that surrounds it, a pub wouldn’t have to offer much in Malham to be constantly full of walkers and day trippers, but the Lister Arms doesn’t slouch.
One of the most inviting looking pubs you are likely to come across, it doesn’t disappoint once inside. There is always a vast array of local ales on tap (nine hand pumps last time we were there) as well as some interesting lagers and ciders.
Newspapers and games lie around to entertain you while you grab a seat by the fire in the lovely bar or at one of the tables on the village green out front. Food is of really good quality and offers something for everyone, with pub classics, seasonal specials and light lunches, all with local produce where possible.
2. The Foresters Arms, Carlton-in-Coverdale
Tucked away in beautiful but often overlooked Coverdale, this is a proper country pub at the heart of village life – saved from closure by the local community in 2011, the Foresters has gone from strength to strength. Not only does it offer a good selection of local beers and unpretentious, good quality, local food, it hosts all sorts of special nights including supper club, curry night, monthly afternoon tea and a pub quiz.
Cosy nooks and crannies, a warming fire by the bar and an inviting dining room mean there are plenty of places to settle in to after you have enjoyed a walk in the stunning surrounding countryside, pleasantly free of the crowds found in more well-known areas.
3. The Blue Bell Inn, Kettlewell
One of three pubs in the popular village of Kettlewell in upper Wharfedale, the Blue Bell is our pick. A great place to end a country walk in this beautiful area, with a warm welcome, loads of traditional character, a relaxed, unassuming atmosphere, plenty of excellent local beers and hearty portions of classic pub food. Not a place for a gastronomic experience perhaps, but it hits the spot after a long day in the fresh air.
If the weather is with you, take a seat at one of the tables outside the front of the pub to watch the many people coming and going through the village.
4. The Game Cock, Austwick
The pretty village of Austwick on the western fringe of the Dales is often skipped over in favour of the neighbouring village, picture-perfect Clapham, but to miss Austwick is to miss one of the Dales’ finest pubs.
The Game Cock has the look of a traditional Dales pub – lots of history and alcoves to hide away in, as well as a well-stocked bar offering the expected good selection of local beers. However, although undoubtedly an excellent, cosy local pub and a great place for a pint, it is the menu at the Game Cock that makes it stand out. The chef proprietor is French and his influence is all over the menu – ‘Lapin a la Moutarde’, ‘Beouf Bourguignon’ and Breton crepes are regulars and the specials board always has a French twist. The food is deservedly popular and the tasters out on the bar are an added bonus!
5. The Farmers Arms, Muker
In the tiny village of Muker in upper Swaledale, the Farmers Arms is often busy despite its fairly remote location. Helped by the fact that one of the most beautiful walks in the Dales passes through this picturesque village (the loop between Keld and Muker along the River Swale and along Kidsdon side, offering fantastic views of Swaledale) the Farmers is worth a trip in its own right.
The picture of a traditional inn both outside and in, the Farmers is a real pub lover’s pub. This is not a restaurant and it’s not trying to be – food is tasty, hearty and unfussy, and fits perfectly with the feel of the pub. Tables cannot be reserved for dinner so you can’t turn up for a pint to find that the place is fully booked and you aren’t really wanted. Settled into the unhurried atmosphere, it is easy to imagine many generations having enjoyed a drink in exactly the same surroundings.
The popular tables at the front of the pub are a lovely place for a drink or lunch on a sunny day, looking out over walkers milling around the village to the steep sided hill on the other side of the River Swale.
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