Blog for July 2017 with Photographs, Travel Notes and Local History


Click or tap here

Friday July 14th 2017

Malvern Hills : Café H2O at Upper Colwall [2017]

I am still popping antibiotics at the moment so no beer for me at the Wyche Inn after climbing up the Old Wyche Road. However, just through the cutting there is Café H20, a lovely café that I have visited several times for a cuppa and a slice of cake. The people running this place are lovely and, following a chat about my climb up the Old Wyche Road, they are launching a 10% discount for any cyclist who summits this steep climb. Accordingly, I was the first rider to enjoy money off my delicious Victoria Sponge Cake.

Sunday July 23rd 2017


Watching the Tour de France highlights means I have had to endure ITV4 adverts. The above image is my take on one of them.

Monday July 24th 2017

Hebden Bridge : Ducks [2017]

Today we stopped off at Hebden Bridge on the way to the Yorkshire Dales. It is a town in the Upper Calder Valley that we have visited several times, not least when the Tour of France came through in 2014. It is a place that has seen significant change in terms of demography. This makes it an attractive place to visit, though we are award of the issues that this has created for residents of old. I wonder what happens to the ducks when the town floods, a recurring event that is a huge problem for the people living and working at the lower levels of Hebden Bridge.

Weston : All Saints' Church [2017]

Once we had settled into our hotel at Skipton we headed out for a late afternoon/early evening ride to Otley. Riding along the quiet Low Park Road from Ilkley to Otley we saw the most deer we had ever encountered in the grounds of Denton Hall. There was a medieval deer park not too far away at Dob Park. All Saints' Church is a rather peculiar building, some of which dates back to Norman times, though a cross said to date from the 9th-century cross was found in the graveyard. Incredibly, the bells of this church, thought to be some of the oldest in Great Britain, were stolen. Thankfully, they were recovered and restored in 2016 with Heritage Lottery Funding. Who would steal the bells from a church?

Otley : Weir on the River Wharfe [2017]

We made Otley in good time. The last time I cycled around the Otley area I passed Lizzie Armitstead heading in the opposite direction. Here I am next to the weir on the River Wharfe doing a bit of Sussex brewery promotion in West Yorkshire where Dark Star beers are of the lesser-spotted variety. I did tell publicans that it was awesome beer, or "Reet Gradley" in the local lingo.

Ilkley : The Flying Duck [2017]

After a ride around Otley we headed to the Flying Duck at Ilkley, the tap house of the Wharfedale Brewery. The pub, formerly known as the Albert Inn, was originally a farmhouse and dates from 1709. For a town that is enjoying a two-wheeled boom, cycle parking is a bit rubbish and we simply could not trust the untidy yard next to the brewery to the rear of the building. Still, we did enjoy the beers whilst continually nipping outside to check the bikes hadn't been nicked!

Ilkley : Beer Drinker at The Flying Duck [2017]

I particularly enjoyed a glass of Wharfedale Black inside the Flying Duck. A very pleasant low-gravity dark ale produced at the brewery established behind the re-launched former Albert Inn during 2012. The brewery's star beer, however, is Wharfedale Blonde which we enjoyed in several pubs over the week and it proved to be a consistently good beer. Having tried all the house beers we delved into the guest ale selection and had some tremendous Rooster's Baby Assassin, a 6.1% IPA with plenty of oomph.

Tuesday July 25th 2017

We enjoyed a splendid day on the bikes today. Setting off from Skipton, we headed to Wharfedale, up past Kilnsey Crag and on to Kettlewell.

Kettlewell : Breakfast at Zarina's [2017]

Cor, now that'll get you up any hill climb! I have said it before but I am saying it again ... Zarina's at Kettlewell is one of the GREAT cycling cafés in England. Of course, it's not just for cyclists but Zarina really does make us welcome at her establishment. The eggs, incidentally, are cooked on the Aga so no 'orrible fat, not too much butter on the toast and plenty of bean power! Go Zarina!!

Langstrothdale : Cyclist [2017]

Fortifited by our nosh at Zarina's we headed up Langstrothdale, one of my favourite roads in the UK. It is uplifting, invigorating, life-enriching cycling. One should always be prepared to step off the bike and enjoy the surroundings in which one finds oneself. Too many cyclists worry about average speeds and Strava segments rather than appreciate the beauty of the ride. We stopped at a suitable spot for about 15 minutes to enjoy the view, spot a few birds and relax to the sound of the water.

Hubberholme : Church of Saint Michael and All Angels [2017]

We did not continue over Fleet Moss as we were planning to ride up Littondale. So we returned along to Langstrothdale for a look around the Church of Saint Michael and All Angels at Hubberholme, one of only two churches in England that has a Rood Loft. Forget the fact also that J. B. Priestley's ashes were buried here. And never mind the Thompson mice, this altar is the star attraction as it was once used as a bar in the George Inn across the road. They eventually 'rescued' it and hauled it back into the church. However, you can always nip in for a quickie at the George Inn and enjoy a beer in a most pleasant Dales hostelry.

Halton Gill : Katie's Cuppas [2017]

We rode up Littondale to Halton Gill where there is an usual place for a hot drink. Katie's Cuppas is an Honesty Box Tea Room, something new to us on our travels. A great idea which I think was cooked up by a young girl. Tea and coffee-making facilities are in an outbuilding of the farm where cakes are also on offer. Oh, and a loo. A great facility for walker and cyclists in this remote part of the Dales. I left La Goddess du Vélo here whilst I got my daily fix of going uphill. I noted that there were two chevrons on the OS map for the climb out of Halton Gill on the road to Hesleden Burgh skirting Pen-Y-GentPen-Y-Gent. Irresistible. Actually, the climb is not too bad and I enjoyed myself going up. On another day I would plan a route up here, along to Stainforth and down to Settle for the epic climb to Scaleber Force.

Litton : Queen's Arms [2017]

We pedalled back to Litton to have a beer in the Queen's Arms. I am not sure why the signboard outside states "Cyclists Welcome" - tucked away in Littondale, I would have thought that any potential custom would be welcome! Anyway, it is nice to know we are not unwelcome visitors. Perhaps it refers to the accommodation on offer in this relatively quiet part of The Dales. I imagine that Littondale receives less visitors than some of its neighbouring Dales but it is all the richer for the lack of people. Taking the quiet lane up from Wind Bank Farm near Skirfare Bridge, it is a lovely ride up to Halton Gill. This makes the Queen's Arms a key stop for refreshments.

Unfortunately, Greene King dominates the bar with Old Hoppy Hen and the re-badged Queen's Arms Best Bitter. However, the rather lovely Wharfedale Blonde is available and is the perfect thirst-quencher for two-wheeled adventurers. In the new millennium the pub did have a brewery out back. Operating between 2003 and 2010 it was called the Litton Ales brewery. It would have been great to have a home-brewed ale today.

Litton : Interior of the Queen's Arms [2017]

I am always wary of access to a dartboard being blocked by a dining table. There is plenty of the building's antiquity to soak up but the modern furniture does detract slightly from the pub's character. Perhaps old furnishings from an auction would have suited the place better. Still, cannot complain as we are grateful that there is still a tavern in this beautiful part of North Yorkshire, particularly as the Queen's Arms closed around 2010. Judging by online reviews, the publican's nightmare, the Queen's Arms went through a bit of a sticky patch until the plug was finally pulled. Local landowners Mark and Heather Hancock bought the pub, spent a few quid on the place and installed Emily Cowan to manage it. Despite visitors like us calling in for a rare visit, the Queen's Arms remains a hostelry for local farmers and residents, though I imagine some of these are incomers forcing up the value of property in Littondale.

The building is said to date from the early 17th century but was not a licensed house until 1843. It was possibly James Taylor who obtained a licence for the property. He and his wife Nanny were certainly running the Queen's Arms by the time of the 1851 census. Both of them were born locally in the 1790s. As a widower, James Taylor kept the inn for many years before his retirement on which he continued to live nearby, reaching a ripe old age. He possibly never ventured far from Littondale, perhaps venturing over to Settle for market day.

Isaac Garnett was publican in the 1870s. He kept the pub with his sister-in-law Margaret Garnett. Born in Dent around 1808, he had moved to Littondale some years previously and farmed some nine acres of land. He was still licensee until his death in August 1876.

The Queen's Arms was part of the Buckden Estate but was included in a sale of land and property when the estate was broken up in 1879. The inn, along with two small closes of land, formed part of one lot in the sale held at the Devonshire Hotel at Skipton on August 21st 1879. The purchaser left Margaret Garnett as the innkeeper. Well, until the Settle Brewster Sessions of September 1883 when it was decided that the licence should be tranferred during the following month.

There was some excitement at the Queen's Arms when an accident occurred nearby in August 1885. It was reported that the choir of Saint Oswald's Church, Arncliffe, had their annual excursion to Morecambe for the August holiday Monday. When returning in an open conveyance in the evening, they took a corner too fast near the Queen's Arms and the vehicle was upset, and occupants thrown into the roadway. Miss M. Foster was rendered unconscious, and the others sustained a severe shock. No doubt the brandy bottle was used as the main medication.

No such head-dizzying brandy for us as we clambered back on our bikes and rode down to Arncliffe Church for a mooch before heading to the Falcon, a pub that I fell in love with on a previous visit to the village.

Click or tap here

It was a cycling friend who introduced me to The Falcon in 2016. He hails from the area and had drunk in the pub when he was married at Saint Oswald's Church many moons ago. For La Goddess du Vélo this was her first experience of this venerable institution.

Arncliffe : The Falcon [2017]

Our reception, like that of my previous visit, was most hospitable. Friendly chat and banter ensued between publican, regulars and visitors. I have said it before but the only snag is that I do not reside in Arncliffe as I would love this to be my local - it is a very rare example of a traditional rural pub. Not traditional like the big breweries and pubco's would have you believe in their marketing slogans. Forget the bogus concepts conjured up by company charlatans for here in Arncliffe is the real deal - a veritable bona fide village pub that has not changed for generations. Indeed, the pub has a history of being run by the same family for generations.

Arncliffe : Interior of The Falcon [2017]

At the risk of treating the place like a museum rather than a public-house I wandered around the building soaking up the character and atmosphere. The visitor experience is enhanced by the way the beer is poured. The Falcon is noted for serving Timothy Taylor's beer in a ceramic jug in true old school fashion. This has caused outrage by some who have posted negative reviews on Trip Advisor. Indeed, this is a pub that seems to divide opinions - it is not a place for the Ikea generation who crave homogeneity wherever they go. No, this is a hostelry of some authenticity and is wonderfully quirky and eccentric. I particularly liked the comments of one reviewer who remarked that "if the Falcon was a car it would be a lovingly-maintained Morris Minor Traveller with varnished timber and those sticking-out indicators of yore."

Arncliffe : Parlour Lounge of The Falcon [2017]

There are some excellent pubs dotted around The Dales. Many have retained some of their character whilst updating the interior for the modern consumer. It is a tricky balancing act whereby the interior can be ruined by too much fiddling. Here at The Falcon they prefer to leave things as they are, adopting the maxim of "if it ain't broke ..." Notwithstanding, I still think I am a little late for my experiences of The Falcon. Not so long ago, the pub's owners, Robin and Elspeth Miller, refused to stock lager or other fizzy stuff. Even the guest ale was barred. These recent additions have been introduced by new tenants who have made a few alterations to the business whilst rigorously maintaining the pub's integrity. It was in May 2014 that Arncliffe-born Joanne Hodgson and her husband, Steven, took over the reins. Joanne had previously helped Elspeth Miller so knew the one side of the counter whilst Steven had become very familiar with the other side having patronised the place for many a year when relaxing from his job on Joanne's parents' farm, Castle Farm, in the village. I must stress that the vast majority of reviews left for this couple are wildly positive and are posted by people who have a sense of history and value pub tradition.

After my second visit to The Falcon I still think it is in my list of the Top 20 pubs in the UK. For some, it may be out of time. However, The Falcon is of its time. We raised our glasses to it remaining timeless.

Kirkby Malham : Interior of The Victoria [2017]

The scene is I am clinging on to the door frame of The Falcon refusing to leave but La Goddess du Vélo is sensibly telling me that we need to get back towards Skipton before stopping for something to eat. So, reluctantly we are heading towards Kirkby Malham.

It had only been around 12 months since I visited The Victoria in Kirkby Malham so, although I like Timothy Taylor beers, I was saddened to find that the pub does not seem to be selling the Dark Horse Brewery range as they did a year ago. A new couple had just taken over the pub and were being guided by the last incumbent who, I am pretty sure, had just taken over when I last visited.

Kirkby Malham : Guest Ales at The Victoria [2017]

I think perhaps that they are stocking too many beers for their turnover as they had three other guest ales on offer, none of which were particularly in sparkling form. In their defence, the Ram Tam was quite pleasant - though not as good as I later tasted at the Woolly Sheep Inn in Skipton. Gone too was the lovely Cheese and Potato Pie that the pub used to sell. The meal we did have was fair-to-middling. I wish the couple taking on this former Massey's house all the best but I do feel that they need to get the place ship-shape in order to compete with the local pubs. By the way, I did a little on this pub's background after my previous visit so you can click here if this is of interest.

Wednesday July 26th 2017

We woke up to grey skies and rain so adjusted our plans accordingly. The afternoon looked a little more promising so we delayed our bike ride. We decided to have a stroll around Skipton, look at some of the historic buildings, mooch in a couple of the independent shops and maybe spoon a load of cake in our mouths.

Skipton : Tourist enjoying the Town Trail [2017]

I do like a town trail for getting to know an unfamiliar place. This leaflet for Skipton was compiled 17 years ago so quite a bit was out-of-date but great fun. Incredibly, some places don't even have their town trail leaflets on display in their Tourist Information Office - Aberystwyth springs to mind. But ask and you will normally be greeted with warmth as they love it when somebody shows an interest in the history of their town. Give me a town trail leaflet and a good few hours to wander in and out of the pubs en-route and you have a happy tourist.

Skipton : Craft Fair at the Town Hall [2017]

Inevitably, the town trail incorporates the Town Hall, an impressive edifice built in the Classical style in 1862. Quite often it is not possible to view the interior of such public buildings. However, there was a craft fair on today so we paid our 50p in order to have a look at the plasterwork and interior decoration. My mind drifted somewhat as I turned my attention to the array of stalls selling completely unnecessary items with which people can clutter their homes. Moreover, I studied the people sat behind their mini-emporiums. They all looked completely miserable. The woman in the foreground of this photograph looks as though she has took a fiver and been handed a bill of £50 for the floor space she is occupying. There were similar facial expressions around the room. Not even the potential customers seemed to be enjoying themselves. This is not unique to craft fairs. I have seen the same sourpusses slumped behind the trestle table at other fairs, tucking into a soggy sandwich and sipping weak tea from their flask. Why do they do these people put themselves through this misery? They could be out in The Dales enriching their lives instead of destroying their soul trying to flog an embroidered tea towel.

Skipton : Former George Inn [2017]

Town trails normally turn up the odd former public-house and Skipton has a few old taverns hidden beneath new frontages. Part of the Rackham's store used to the the George Inn or Old George Hotel. The licensed premises occupied the building seen to the right of this photograph. The section to the left was formerly the retail premises of the Ambler family, selling ladies' and children's clothing to Skipton folk since Victorian times.

I do like it when a cycling story collides with that of a pub and the Old George Hotel has a good one. In January 1956 Horace Saunders, who had recently retired from show business after travelling the world as a trick cyclist, became the licensee. His wife was also a trick cyclist and when their two daughters were old enough to team up with them, the family created "The Four Wonder Wheelers" act. Later, their two sons formed an act known as "The Cyclo Brothers."

Skipton : Former George Inn [2017]

Just along the High Street an all-weather shopping arcade has been created and named Craven Court. Some of the units are occupied by well-known High Street brands but there are a few individual boutiques if that is what floats your boat. We had wandered up the arcade to visit Cake 'ole, an calorific emporium that I had heard about online. As you can see I entered into the spirit of the nomenclature and fully indulged in filling my cake 'ole with some bostin' cake. The café is not as quirky as some Trip Advisor visitors report but it offers an enjoyable experience and they serve Yorkshire Tea in old chinaware. The cake choice can be pot luck but I would give Cake 'ole a thumbs-up. Cake 'ole was opened in May 2014 by Richard Wilson and Neil Senior. They have since opened a second café in their hometown of Keighley.

Skipton : Black Horse [2017]

Back in the High Street and up towards the roundabout stands the Black Horse. Certainly, this is an old building but the provenance of the inset foundation stone dated 1746 has been doubted. Said to have been formerly called the King's Head, the hostelry, according to a plaque on the front of the building, is "reputed that this site housed the horses of Richard Duke of Gloucester [who later became King Richard III], when he was Lord of the Honour of Skipton from 1476-1485." The plaque also states that: "another local tradition recalls how, during the Civil War, when Skipton Castle was the last Royalist Stronghold in Yorkshire to surrender to the Roundheads, a troop of Cromwell's soliders arrived and were served poisoned ale."

Beer Labels produced by Bentley's Yorkshire Breweries Ltd.

The Black Horse was operated by Bentley's Yorkshire Breweries Ltd. in the early years of the 20th century. In July 1916 the company applied at the Skipton Petty Sessions to make alterations to the property. The brewery claimed that the Black Horse Hotel was "old-fashioned" and they wished to create better facilities for catering. Today, I wish it were possible to see the place prior to these alterations and, indeed, further refurbishments over the years.

Based at the Eshaldwell Brewery at Woodlesford in Leeds, Bentley's Yorkshire Breweries Ltd. was founded as the Oulton Brewery by Henry Bentley in 1828. When the business was converted into limited company he became managing director. He held this office for some years before his retirement during which he was chairman of the board of directors. Henry Bentley was also a partner in the firm of Bentley Shaw and Co., brewers, Lockwood and Huddersfield. For many years he took an active part in protecting the interests of the trade with which he was connected, and was President of the Yorkshire Brewers' Association. He was once one of the promoters of a scheme for the construction of a harbour of refuge at Filey, but the project was abandoned. He left Woodlesford and took up residence in Norfolk before moving to London. It was at the South Kensington Hotel that the brewer, who suffered from diabetes, fell ill and subsequently died in 1886. The company he founded operated 380 public-house when it was acquired by Whitbread & Co. Ltd. in 1968. Brewing did however continue until October 1972.

Click or tap here

Skipton : Royal Shepherd [2017]

The history of Eller Beck and Springs Canal is a most interesting part of Skipton's town trail. Springs Canal was also known as the Thanet Canal, named after Lord Thanet, owner of Skipton Castle in the late 18th Century. He also owned the limestone quarries, the goods from which formed the principal cargo on the narrow boats using the waterway that opened in the 1770s.

Skipton : Inn Sign of the Royal Shepherd [2017]

The Royal Shepherd stands alongside the canal. The inn sign is thought to be unique and is said to be a reference to King George III who, during his reign, acquired the nickname 'Farmer George,' in part due to his agricultural interests and in part as a playful pun. Intrigued by the name, former landlord Donald Moorby and his wife Juanita, who were hosts of the pub for over three decades from 1961, researched the origins of the inn sign and, consequently, wrote to the Queen outlining its heritage. They received a 'royal charter' letter back, which they framed and displayed inside the pub. However, when the Royal Shepherd closed for a period following the death of publican Tony Hodgson in 2011, some of the interior fittings were lost, including the letter sent by Queen Elizabeth.

Alas, King George III reigned from October 1760 until his death in January 1820 so I am not buying the story of the Royal Shepherd inn sign. The tavern was originally a beer house so it was not a licensed-house during the time of Farmer George. I suspect the name is a reference to Henry Clifford, 10th Baron Clifford, of Skipton Castle who, according to legend was sent by his mother to be raised by a family of shepherds following the death of his father in the War of the Roses. This supposedly gave Clifford the soubriquet "Shepherd Lord."

The licence of the Royal Shepherd was reviewed on a couple of occasions during the Edwardian period. The beer house was flagged up by the antics of Albert Squire Hall, the landlord who was caught using the house as a gambling den on two occasions during 1890. The magistrates deemed him unfit to hold a licence. He was swiftly succeeded by William Cartman. His stay was brief and he moved to the Brick Hall Inn, another tavern that came under review in 1907. Other houses deemed unnecessary included the New Ship Inn, The William IV and the Star Inn. The Royal Shepherd managed to survive a licence review in 1907 and 1911. During the latter hearing it was reported that "sentiment played a prominent part in the application for the renewal of the licence of the New Ship Inn." The solicitor stated that "it was probably the oldest in the town, and had been in the present licensee's family for over 120 years." Although no longer a tavern, the building that housed the Ship Inn still stands next to the bridge just down from the Castle Inn.

We had a tremendous time wandering around Skipton. The weather picked up during the afternoon so we swung Plan B into operation. When drinking in The Victoria at Kirkby Malham on the previous evening we picked up one of those CAMRA branch newsletters and noticed that the King's Arms at Silsden had recently picked up the Keighley and Craven Pub of the Year award. Got to be worth a trip we thought.

Silsden : King's Arms [2017]

We went back to hotel and grabbed the bikes and cycled over the hill to Silsden. From the Bay Horse at Low Snaygill there is a small climb up to Bradley and then there is a lovely BIG climb up Jackson's Lane to Delph Farm. From there you can virtually roll a couple of kilometres down to the pub. Silsden is an interesting place - the mills are still there, though it is no longer a mill town. The Leeds and Liverpool Canal improved communications and boosted the mill trade.

Silsden : Bar of the King's Arms [2017]

The King's Arms is a great drinkers pub. Food is available at lunchtime but in the evening they concentrate on getting the beers in. The choice is terrific though, during our visit, I would have liked to see one dark beer amid the array of handpulls. The pub, a multiple winner of CAMRA awards, has been run by Lisa Keeley and Francis Huggins since December 2003. The interior doors may have been removed but the building still retains separate drinking rooms and the pub seems to serve the local community well.

Wishbone Tiller Pin Session Pale Ale

The Saltaire Blonde, a regular at the pub, was superb but we noticed all the regulars were bombarding the handpull dispensing Wishbone Tiller Pin, an Session Pale Ale brewed at Keighley in collaboration with a new[ish] set-up at Skipton's marina [more on that to follow]. We joined the frenzy at the servery to obtain a few glasses of this most excellent beer. Tiller Pin may only clock in at 4.2% but it is bursting with hoppy wham-bang from the mix of Citra, Chinook, Cascade and Summit hops.

The Wishbone Brewery was established around 2015 by Adrian Chapman, a Yorkshire engineer, with help from his partner Emma. She was used to him concocting strange brews as he was a home-brewer for many years prior to the launch of the business. The brewery was created within part of a mill shed, formerly used by Sir James Hill Textiles on Chesham Street in Keighley. His father had worked in the mill for many years. The Wishbone name is a reference to the whalebone positioned on the cliff overlooking Whitby harbour, the town in which Adrian and Emma were married. On the evidence of the Tiller Pin, everything is falling nicely into place.

Quiz night was beckoning and we had to make our way back in the dusk to Skipton but we really enjoyed the King's Arms, one of those pubs you would like to have as a local. We pedalled back to Skipton by crossing the river and canal heading for Cononley where we followed a quiet road into town. A most excellent loop with a cracking pub experience.

Thursday July 27th 2017

Today was the opposite of yesterday when we got wet in the morning and enjoyed a bike ride in the late afternoon. This time we set off on our bikes in the sunshine but got caught in a truly 'orrible downpour in which we got completely soaked. I can cope with getting wet but my lovely Tifosi bike is not used to damp weather. He is normally saved for surefire dry days.

Appletreewick : Fireplace inside the Craven Arms [2017]

Pub pornography is how it would sound if I was to review the Craven Arms - arguably the perfect contemporary pub experience. Cusomer Service 10/10, Beer Choice 10/10, Beer Quality 10/10, Food 10/10 and we visited midway through a great cycle ride from Skipton looping around Hetton, Cracoe, Thorpe, Burnsall, Appletreewick, Bolton Abbey and Embsay. I have visited this pub three times and on each occasion it ticked all the boxes. Oh, I must also mention the New Inn a few yards away - another fine pub in Appletreewick. Don't miss out - visit both.

Skipton : Railway Station [2017]

We arrived back at our hotel in Skipton thoroughly soaked. We dusted ourselves down, cleaned the bikes and headed out into town. Incredibly, the sun came out and it suddenly became summer once again. We went to look at the railway station. We are not railway buffs but the town does have a lovely station that Victorian passengers would still recognise. Replacing the original station some quarter of a mile away, this railway station was opened on April 30th 1876. It was designed by Charles Trubshaw, the principal architect for the Midland Railway. The canopies made of cast-iron with glazed hipped roofs and ornate iron brackets are particularly impressive.

Belle Vue Brewery of Scott & Co. [Skipton] Ltd.

On the opposite side Broughton Road facing the station there is a connecting lane to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and this is a pleasant way to stroll into town. The swing bridge at Brewery Lane is close to the site of the old Skipton Brewery established by the maltster Christopher Scott in 1816. Erected in a locale known as Belle Vue, there is not much left of the brewery these days. The site was between the Belle Vue cotton mill and the Victoria corn mill. Christopher Smith died in 1828, when the business was continued by his son William. It was later run by other members of the Scott family. In the 1850s Scott's Brewery started to buy up houses in order to develop a tied estate. Early purchases included four properties in Skipton's High Street : the Old George Inn, Thanet Arms, Bay Horse Inn and King's Arms. The firm would eventually buy up most of the public-houses in Skipton, this having a virtual monopoly of beer sales in the town.

The firm were registered in August 1894. Two years later in December 1896 the company acquired the brewery and small tied estate of the White Horse operated by Frederick Binns at Keighley. Scott & Co. [Skipton] Ltd. were themselves taken over by the aforementioned Bentley's Yorkshire Breweries Ltd. in 1912. The acquisition included 26 freehold and six leasehold licensed premises. They were not interested in the brewery buildings which subsequently closed.

Skipton : The Boat House [2017]

Continuing along the canal, I took this photograph of the Boat House from the other side of the marina. Formerly used as a café, this building was acquired by Ian Clarke and his family and opened as a pub in April 2015. With little or no experience of the licensed trade, they hired John "Spike" Garton as manager. He had previously worked in The Narrowboat, another of Skipton's real ale success stories. We worked our way around to the tavern to find that he keeps his ales in tip-top condition. It is a good drinking venue as the best seats look out across the basin and dock yard on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and the junction of the Springs Branch Canal. An excellent place to drop anchor for a while.

Skipton : Castle Inn [2017]

The Castle Inn viewed from Holy Trinity Church at Skipton where, amazingly, they have a Vegan Menu. They also restored my belief in Theakston's Old Peculiar here - I had a couple of glasses of delicious fruity ale of the highest order at this pub. Service was also very friendly and, had the pub had a few more patrons, would have been a really good experience. We still enjoyed the old place, an ashlar building built in the early 19th century and incorporating the old stables next to the wall of the churchyard.

Skipton : Interior of the Castle Inn [2017]

The Castle Inn was central to a hearing in which the licensees of Skipton attempted to get Sunday opening hours changed in 1925. Nowadays people are used to pubs being open all day. However, in the post-WW1 years the pubs in Skipton opened between 6pm and 9pm. The Skipton and District Licensed Victuallers' Association did not attempt to open for longer, simply asking for the hours to be changed an hour later from 7pm to 10pm. 67 out of 71 licensees in the district supported the motion, which would bring the hours in line with places like Otley, Clitheroe and Keighley. William Turpin Chippendale, publican of the Castle Inn, addressed the Bench stating that "in his case it was desirable to change the hours in order that people going to the Parish Church, near by, might not be inconvenienced by the presence of charabanc parties. The magistrates dismissed the application.

Click or tap here

After our vegan nosebag and Old Peculiar we thought we would try a pub with another long-established range of ales brewed in Yorkshire. The Woolly Sheep Inn is operated by Timothy Taylor's Brewery at Keighley and I guess the publican here is under some pressure for the ales to be of benchmark standard to represent the best of the Knowle Spring brewery.

Skipton : Interior of the Woolly Sheep Inn [2017]

I assume it was Timothy Taylor's Brewery that gave the old tavern the funky name of the Woolly Sheep. The house was once known as the Brick Hall Inn or Brick Hall Hotel. I am told that it was also known as The Yorkshireman in more recent times. Next door but one, the curved building was once the Ship Inn. Both pubs would have been full-to-bursting when the cattle market was held in the street in front of the buildings.

Skipton : Sound Bar Micropub and Record Shop [2017]

Vinyl records and real ale combine to form a micropub in Skipton - that should get the carrier bag-wielding sad bloke brigade foaming at the mouth. I like the concept, though the music being played on the turntable was offensively Supertramp. And there's the rub : if the sounds being spun is not your bag do you end up leaving after one beer? The second time I visited was a bit better but, really, I need something cookin' such as Nomade Orquestra to make me stay for a session. Vinyl prices have seemingly gone up - I was amazed at £25 for "Psychocandy." Here I have found a Richie Havens album - not his best but worth a spin whilst supping the house beer from Wharfedale Brewery. Another guest ale from the Goose Eye Brewery was also on sale - I believe they restrict choice to two cask ales. Anyway, like I say, a good concept but, on this occasion at least, it was a case of "Hang The DJ."

Friday July 28th 2017

Lofthouse : Cyclist [2017]

Glorious sunshine today so we went back into default mode and had a highly enjoyable day of cycling in The Dales, an area which must be the best in the UK for bike riding. Fine roads, wonderful scenery and the odd challenging hill. The Dales has the complete package.

Middlesmoor : Steep Hill up to village on road from Lofthouse [2017]

A photograph that gets me all excited. I took this on the way down as I was too busy hauling my arse up the steep slope to Middlesmoor to fiddle with a camera. When tackling such climbs you cannot stop as it is cheating to have a rest. All ascents must be completed in one go. Besides, I am not sure many cyclists, even professionals, could get their machine going again on such a gradient. I am not alone in enjoying climbing up hills - there is a niche within cycling whereby many individuals will deliberately steer their bike in the direction of extreme pain. Believe me, it really hurts on some climbs but I cannot resist torturing myself with a nice hill. There is certainly a rush of endorphins after reaching the summit but I don't seek mind-altering opioids. If there is an expert in psychoanalysis who can explain what is going on here then feel free to elucidate.

Lofthouse : Trapping Hill [2017]

I took this photograph near the crest of Col du Lofthouse, otherwise known as Trapping Hill. I had entered the Strava Climbing Challenge for July which demanded that cyclists around the world pedalled up almost 26,247ft to earn a badge. Not a tangible badge mind you - just an electronic symbol to show up next to your name. Who cares - it was a target to fit into the cycling routine. With one day to go I notice that I have climbed 53,625ft during July. My ranking in the world is only 12,382 - in other words a mere also-ran. However, there were 159,558 entrants to the challenge so this makes my effort sound more respectable in that I have left 147,176 other cyclists somewhere down the slopes. On the following day I managed to climb 512 places to finish the month in 11,870th place - but with a revised total of 161,516 entrants this puts me comfortably in the Top 8% - not that I'm counting of course!

Lofthouse : Crown Hotel [2017]

A photograph of some regulars leaving the Crown Hotel at Lofthouse, a smashing pub in Nidderdale serving excellent Black Sheep Bitter. Friendly people behind the servery too. I assume they were members of the Newcombe family who have apparently been running this Nidderdale hostelry for around a quarter of a century. Lovely panelling around the rooms, a classic hatch service point, nice stained-glass in the bar canopy are some of the highlights of the interior. I love the billing of "unpretentious home cooking" with it being up the road from the Yorke Arms [see below]. Highly recommended and ideal for refreshments when tackling Trapping Hill on a bicycle. It was certainly lovely to nip in for a beer after tackling the famous hill climb.

Lofthouse : Interior of the Crown Hotel [2017]

Just after the Second World War, in September 1949, Tom Bradley, the 72-year-old licensee, married Miss Nora Bell, a waitress at the hotel for many years. It was the publican's third marriage. His first wife had died 40 years earlier, his second in the previous December. He sent invitations to nearly every resident of the village where no doubt many tongues had been wagging. The publican, a former weaver at Skipton, celebrated his 77th birthday in 1954 by retiring after 47 years in charge of the Crown Hotel. He and his wife Nora moved to a cottage in neighbouring Middlesmoor. His retirement was short-lived for he died fours months later in June 1954.

Ramsgill : Yorke Arms [2017]

We rolled back along Nidderdale towards Gouthwaite Reservoir. The Yorke Arms looks out across to a village green at Ramsgill. Not long before our trip to the Yorkshire Dales, the owner of this pub, Frances Atkins, was a guest walking alongside Clare Balding during a broadcast of "Ramblings" on Radio 4 as they made their way along the Nidderdale Way. Along with her partner, the highly-regarded chef bought the Yorke Arms in 1996, gained a Michelin star in 2003 and has since garnered quite a fan club. Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon dined here for "The Trip," the television gourmet series in 2010, whilst food critic Jay Rayner ventured up the valley [in a car!] to heap praise on the food and Egon Ronay declared the place a joy. So, with an array of Bentley and Aston Martin vehicles parked outside you can imagine how down-at-heel we must have looked on our bicycles! To be honest I would feel rather uncomfortable in such a gastro tavern. Besides, I am not going to be disingenuous - we always have to look at the right-hand side of a menu when we are out-and-about. We simply cannot afford the midweek lunch special at £45 per person. And I had to chuckle at the hotel's midweek July offer of £350 per couple, per night. Mind you, the Yorke Arms has generally been a fashionable establishment down the years. It was once owned by Tom Lawton, proprietor of the City Varieties Music Hall in Leeds. As I type the Yorke Arms has been put on the market - it could be yours for a mere £1.75m.

Click or tap here for more information

Click here to visit the W3C Markup Validation Service