Sunday 29 March 2015

BRAPA - Ales in the Yorkshire Dales

View of the Dales, looking down onto West Witton
The main aim of my second BRAPA trip to the Dales was to tick off the next North Yorkshire pub in the guide, in Carlton in Coverdale.  Having originally planned it as a four pub day, by Friday night I'd settled on a much more sensible "two pub option" which put less pressure on the travel.

But after a train to Northallerton and traumatic delayed busses via Bedale, I noticed we were travelling right through Wensley and when an old woman pressed the bell, I thought "to hell with it, I'm ready for a pint, I'll get off here too". Thus making this a three pub day - that's a compromise!

610 - THREE HORSESHOES, Wensley - So with the wind gusting around my ears, I entered this typical Dales pub, looked like it had been there centuries and battered by the elements and seemed sunken into the ground.  There weren't too many walkers around, mainly a mixture of people having lunch and locals having a drink.  Inside, it had that Dales feel too, basic and bare-boarded but cosy, light and welcoming at the same time.  A friendly, docile dog greeted me and the semi friendly landlord served me a cracking pint of Yorkshire Dales "Three Horseshoes", presumably brewed for the pub.  I sat in an empty back room, I felt the couple on a bench outside were brave in these winds.  The sun was streaming in, making it a happy experience as I read a booklet about events in the Dales, and wondered if I was missing out by not attending a talk on Lichens in Leyburn.

This pub sign confused me for ages til I realised it was "three horseshoes"
The plan now was to walk two miles to West Witton but a sign for Coverdale and an accompanying pub advertisement made me take this road instead.  4 miles of mainly uphill walking ensued, a rainstorm and constant wind meant I've never felt more battered on entering a BRAPA pub, my cheeks are still glowing the following day!

611.  FORESTERS ARMS, Carlton in Coverdale - Considering my dishevelled state, the bar man had such an "air of what of it", my friend Krzb Britain may as well have been serving.  He didn't even look at me until he'd served me.  If I ever deserved a round of applause when entering a pub, it was here.  But when a local came in with two docile but staring dogs, he was all "OI OI JIM, HOWZ TRICKS?"  very annoying!  Immediately, a man came to the bar and asked for a dice and I was about to treat him as a kindred spirit when he revealed it was missing from Trivial Pursuit.  A group of them were playing in the back room, though such was the circular table, it looked like they were conducting a seance.  In the front room where I sat, there was a mixture of couples and families having lunch but it was quiet and relaxed, again no walkers, they were probably too sensible to come out on a day like this.  My Golden Salamander ale from Bradford tasted even better than usual. 

It was a heavenly sight when I finally arrived at today's main destination.
The walk to West Witton took me a different route, this was the most sparse and barren part of the Dales I'd ever seen (more like Exmoor) but mercifully it was downhill for the most part so about an hour later, I arrived at my third pub.

612.  FOX & HOUNDS, West Witton - A friendly landlord with a Gandalf-esque beard greeted me here, the locals also seemed more smiley in general and although another Salamander ale went off, the Rudgate Coffee & Date ale (which didn't look on) was superb.  A man was getting a bit too excited by horse-racing, his wife looked embarrassed, a boy came in and started watching stuff on his iPad and all was well with the world.  The pub had more of a loungelike back room with a more traiditional area near the bar with a great real fire, and the landlady did a good job keeping it topped up as it was properly chilly by now.  Three men started taking pictures of the pub and sampling the ales, was this a BRAPA spin-off?  The landlady compared them to trainspotters.  That must go for me too.

So with my three pubs achieved, all that remained was to keep my bladder empty and catch the bumpy bus back to Bedale.  And it should have been a simple finale if I hadn't done anything stupid.  Standing on the wrong side of the road for the bus was pretty stupid, especially as it was the last of the day to Bedale.  Luckily, I struck up a good deal with a taxi driver from Transylvania (I'm not kidding) to bypass Bedale and go straight to Northallerton.  So I saved a lot of time but wasted money!  

Yes you are in the GBG, I wouldn't be here otherwise!  

After a Grand Central train, I was in York Tap for about 7pm which was good considering.  I just missed Jig and his Dad, but on the plus side, a hen do from Billingham (yes, as scary as it sounds) joined me and they were my toughest BRAPA audience yet, though one did have the George & Dragon in Norton as her local so I tried to get them into it, got an invite to the wedding in Middlesbrough, and luckily they went to get a minicab home shortly.  A bearded man at the bar praised me for dealing with them, and I went to Brigantes to join GK Smooth and Mark T for a final half before KFC and Rogue, the Aussie Crocodile horror film, to end a tough but good day.


  • I've got some BRAPA "business" cards on the way to me, so I can give them to unsuspecting pubbers, friends and random people I meet on days out.  I can also leave them in the pubs I visit, to raise awareness of my blog and the challenge.  Professional!  
  • My claims of a "30 pub" month for March were perhaps a bit ambitious.  Still, if my first of three Halifax trips goes according to plan on Tuesday, we can make it 25 which is much better effort than Feb.  
  • April is on the horizon, Saturday's aren't going to be too productive with two football days and a "Dad day" so the onus is on the Tuesday West Yorkshire challenge to help get my targets in.  I'm looking to hit the 20 mark but I doubt it'll be as productive as March.

See you soon I'm sure for more archiving and Tuesday's first Halifax review.


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