Humble village pub
Who needs high streets filled with packed bars playing music too loud to talk over when you have country pubs? While retiring early with a good book is always an option, there is great nightlife to be enjoyed in the Yorkshire Dales. With other services such as shops and post offices being lost over time, the humble village pub is increasingly the focal point for many rural communities in the National Park.
They are a place where people gather in the evening and discuss the day over a few drinks. If the weather is cold, and often when it’s not, there will usually be a roaring open fire or wood-burning stove and there will always be a good selection of real ales on draught. Following the increase in popularity of cask brewed beer, a number of small breweries have opened in the Dales and you can sample their products in many local pubs.
It is very unusual for pubs in the Park not to sell food. The quality varies, but many serve excellent meals at reasonable prices and the portions will usually be hearty. Children are usually welcome until 9pm and later in some pubs if they are well-behaved. Those which aren’t will be sold as slaves, or so the signs say.
In many villages, it is tradition for locals to go out for a drink later than you might in a town. Often pubs will not get busy on a weekend until 10pm and even before late licenses were more readily issued, village pubs would stay open until the early hours or the last drinker had had enough and was ready for bed. You could call it a lock-in although the door was rarely actually locked.
Dales pubs are a wonderful place to spend a few hours on an evening, either joining in the conversation at the bar or listening in to others tackle the issues of the day. Visitors are usually made to feel very welcome by staff and locals alike.
Who needs high streets filled with packed bars playing music too loud to talk over when you have country pubs?
Market town nightlife
The biggest market towns in the Dales all have pubs which become lively, especially on a weekend. Live music nights by local rock and folk bands are common, as are pub quizzes and even the occasional karaoke night and disco. In Grassington, the Black Horse Hotel, in Garrs Lane, and the Forresters Arms, in Main Street, are among the most popular pubs, although there are several others to choose from.
The narrow streets of Sedbergh also boast a number of good pubs. The family-owned Dalesman Inn has four real ales on tap at any one time, often including local Dales beers such as Black Sheep from Masham. The Red Lion, in Finkle Street, is another traditional pub where you can play a game of darts or dominoes if you fancy.
Swaledale and Arkengarthdale have some great pubs for a drink and some food. The Farmers Arms at Muker is usually busy. On the walls there are photos from when Prince Charles called in for a game of dominoes with the locals. During the grouse shooting season royalty can occasionally be spotted over the tops at the Charles Bathurst Inn near Langthwaite.
Just down the road is the Red Lion, which has been run by landlady Rowena Hutchinson for almost 40 years. In Hawes, all four pubs – the Crown, Fountain, Board and White Hart – offer food, real ales and open fires. All the pubs are popular with visitors and locals, especially at the weekend when they can get very busy.
The Fountain Hotel has regular live music nights and a function room at the back for the occasional disco. Not far from Hawes is the Green Dragon at Hardraw, which during the day serves as the gateway to the famous Hardraw Falls. After dark the pub can get quite lively, especially if a band is playing in the back room.
The biggest market towns in the Dales all have pubs which become lively, especially on a weekend
Off the beaten track
Although the National Park’s main towns offer a wider choice, some of the liveliest pubs are off the beaten track outside the larger towns and villages. An example is the quirky Tan Hill Inn, near Reeth, which, at 1732ft above sea-level, is Britain’s highest pub. As well as being a regular stop-off for hikers, bikers and day-trippers, the pub has regular gig nights with the chart-topping Arctic Monkeys and Mark Ronson among the artists to have played the remote venue.
The pub, which has featured in a double glazing advert and the movie American Werewolf in London, has a bunk barn and camping available outside – and despite being a long way from just about anywhere, is well-known as a good place for a party. The Moorcock Inn, near Garsdale Station, is another oasis of good beer and company among the hills, as is the Foresters Arms, in Carlton-in-Coverdale.
The Foresters was rescued from the brink of closure a few years ago when it was bought by the local community. The pub is now operated on behalf of the villagers by tenants. Like many pubs in the Dales, it is the centre of the community and popular with locals and visitors alike in the evening. If you’re travelling alone take a set of darts and you are guaranteed to find someone to play a game with in the back room, although watch out as the ceiling is quite low.
Continue up Coverdale and eventually you will come out at Kettlewell, in Wharfedale, which is very popular with visitors in the summer and is well-served by three pubs. If it’s a sunny evening, the tables outside the Blue Bell are a great place to spend a few hours sampling local beers and enjoying the views across the dale.
Further up Wharfedale you come to the Buck Inn, at Buckden, which has to be one of the prettiest pubs in the Dales from the outside. Inside, you can expect to be greeted by a roaring fire in the traditional stone-flagged Dales bar.
Despite being a long way from just about anywhere, the Tan Hill Inn is well-known as a good place for a party
For an unforgettable Dales experience, you could do worse than spend the evening in the Victoria Arms, in nearby Worton. The bar resembles a front room because that’s essentially what it is – the landlord’s living room. It is unlikely to be lively, although the pub has become a cult destination for stag and hen parties on a bus tour of the Dales. The pub was run by legendary landlord Ralph Daykin for 40 years until his death and continues to be run by Mr Daykin’s family today.
If your local pub is too quiet, there are often live music events held in village halls in the Dales. There is a growing folk scene and acclaimed artists regularly stop off in the area during national tours. Events are advertised in the local press or are often promoted with roadside signs and posters.
The liveliest nights in the Dales are often those when a village or agricultural show, or local gala or feast, has been held that day, with local pubs packed with people enjoying the annual celebration into the early hours. Several country shows hold a dance in the show marquee after the exhibitors have packed up and gone home.
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