Sunday, 28 September 2014

BRAPA - Yorkshire Dales Part I

It's fair to say that the "Saturday North Yorkshire challenge" has struggled to get off the ground so far.  Aldbrough St John became a glorified County Durham day, Appletreewick was hijacked by West Yorkshire interference, so after months of planning and false starts, it was great to finally get Askrigg and Aysgarth under my belt!

With my BRAPA bag returned to me this week (thanks Post Office Vaults and Hop Studio), all was well with the world and I was on the 7:45am train to L**ds where I needed to change for Garsdale.  The saddest three words to a public transport commuter such as me .... "replacement bus service!"  This took me to Shipley where I then boarded an eventually delayed train to Carlisle.  Luckily, my connection from Garsdale, "the little white bus" waited for me.

A "bus" but not as I know it (I was the sole passenger)
In truth, this "bus service" was a minibus driven by a friendly Geordie chap who even saw me as his one potential passenger and gave me direction across the railway line!  So, it felt like a £3 taxi ride and despite the threat of picking up some Devon bell-ringers from a former GBG pub in Hardraw, we carried on our way and reached sunny Hawes at 10:50am.

White Hart Country Inn, Hawes - After stocking up on real Wensleydale and local bottled ale, I was the first customer in the best of Hawes' many pubs.  They were still "turning the beers on" when I arrived and I settled down to a Wensleydale Semer Water, a pleasant start.  With the sun streaming in to the comfy furnished pub, the echoes of a local radio station and friendly staff who I chatted to/bored with BRAPA stories, this was up there as a really good pub experience.

My first pub of the day, bang on 11am in Hawes.

Kings Arms, Askrigg - The 156 bus was delayed (the American tourist seemed less stressed by it than me) and I was sold a £9 freedom ticket to get me all the way to Northallerton, but for now I was stopping off at this wonderful pub, used in All Creatures Great n Small, which I own on DVD.  The pub was a fantastic unspoilt rural style one, with a narrow passageway to get to the entrance, and a series of individual rooms, all stone flagging, wood, nice and basic as I like it.  The barmaid immediately asked in a mildly threatening way "ARE YOU A HERRIOT FAN?" but when I explained BRAPA was the main purpose of my visit, she quickly lost interest.  I sat in the room I most recognised from a scene in the series, drinking a dark malty Drovers Arms under a photo of the vet's first (more attractive) wife, smiling up from that convertible.  Some knackered walkers came in, they'd come all the way from Leyburn so I couldn't complain about my forthcoming walk to Aysgarth!

Amazing old style pub in Askrigg

George & Dragon - Aysgarth - After a punishing 4 mile power walk along an A road with no pavement, I reached Aysgarth with just enough time to sneak in a pint before my bus connection.  This was my second Yorkshire Dales beer of the day,a Millstone End which must be a new one as it didn't exist on my beer App, Untappd.  I must say thanks to Yorkshire Dales brewery for giving people in this part of the world an option other than Black Sheep and Theakstons.  This was my least favourite pub of the day because 80% was taken over to diners, though only about 3 people were eating!  A pet hate of mine.  The locals bar was small and full of errrm, local drinkers, the outside was the only other bet but the rain had just started.  On the plus side, the beer was good and the landlady seemed a friendly old skool type, didn't tell me off for using my mobile phone even though they are forbidden in the "restaurant"!  As I tried to work out whether Linda Robson from Birds of a Feather was one of the diners, time was up and the bus to Bedale was due.

George & Dragon, Aysgarth - nicer out than in!

Green Dragon, Bedale - A bumpy one hour bus journey careering through the Dales did little for my bladder but I just about held on, and after ordering a surprisingly pleasant pint of Pedigree New World (this was a Marstons pub), a pretty barmaid with strangely white teeth kept my pint behind the bar for me whilst I went to relieve myself ... it's the little details that help!  Bedale was a place very reminiscent of a smaller Northallerton, a bit like Barnard Castle and this big high street pub was open plan, full of people obsessed with betting on horses, but it maintained a comfy friendly feel throughout.  It had a very different feel from the other pubs I'd been in today.

On Bedale's nice main drag lies this good Marstons pub

My final bus of the day took me to Northallerton, where I was able to connect for a train back to York to complete a nice circular route  I still had time for pints in both the Tithe Bar in Northallerton (a wonderful Market Town Tavern which does great fish platters) and the ever dependable York Tap which had a noisy Saturday evening atmosphere, but not as bad I was expecting - the Milk Stout from Ashover was wonderful.  Then, fish & chips and home.  What a top day!

Smug & drunk : me in York Tap basking in the glow of a BRAPA day well done.

Note the lack of numbers on today's pubs, this is because I am still cross-ticking (highlighting) the new 2015 GBG so no idea exactly what I am up to.

Despite everything, September has been a successful month with 24 new ticks.

In October, I will be lucky to get 10 ticks with too many distractions in the form of a surprise birthday party, a housewarming party, Grandma visiting, 2 more friend birthdays, 2 gigs and a week in Spain!  I'll never have the time to fit much BRAPA in unless I can hijack some of the above events for my own ends, hahaha.  Must get back on the midweek West Yorkshire trail, but probably not this coming week.  Wish me luck!


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