Monday, 9 November 2015

BRAPA - Austwick, Settle and Gargrave

Dead animal fun at the Lion in Settle (pub 734)
Getting on a train with a load of (plastic) York based L**ds Utd fans was not in the script, and wishing 'good luck' to the group of friendly White Shite young men certainly wasn't, though they were complimentary of Hull City.  I'd like to think the luck I gave was the reason their defender somehow wasn't sent off for a second booking.  More boring football chat later, for now, I'd arrived safely in Settle for the first of two pubs .......

734,  Lion at Settle, Settle(!)

Has a pub ever had a more confusing entrance?  I went in to this courtyard and then tried each of the doors until I found one which didn't contain metal, knives or dust, seemingly a way to the toilets.  A side door took me into a modern gastropub but luckily, the bar area to my right was more promising.  The range was Thwaites heavy, a theme of the day, and I decided to brave the Nutty Black in the hope it didn't really contain nuts and kill me.  A "curiously dark beer" was the description, but after some imaginary tightening of the throat, I found it distinctly lacking curiosity.  Rather more curiously, a dead animal seemed to be draped over the back of my bench.  Without wishing to sound sexist, the pub had a very 'female' touch with pointless cushions everywhere.  A few old men were having breakfast and reading the papers, and one suddenly got up with a start and I'm sure he exclaimed "right, I'm off to see the tigers!" which I can only assume means there's a local zoo nearby.   I was soon alone and realised how bored the smartly uniformed staff were, anticipating a rush of lunchers which never happened whilst I was there.  Getting out proved equally difficult, the door I'd come in by was now locked, but I finally located the 'dwarf door' which led to the street.  Phew.

Beware the courtyard abyss at the Lion of Settle! 
735.  Talbot Arms, Settle

Two minutes walk later, I was at this pub which had become a bit of a monkey on the back after two abortive attempts in recent years (firstly, with Krzb on the Ribblehead A-Z day, and secondly, on my trip to Giggleswick last year where a sore foot stopped me attempting it).  After the modernisation of a great old coaching inn in the last place, it was nice to walk into a no nonsense green carpetted pub with not a lot of seats.  The two bar chaps weren't the most genial hosts you'd meet, but I decided to test them by asking for the Wifi password (which I didn't need in the Lion) and whilst I'm not disclosing it on this blog, they did educate me that a Talbot is a whitedog (lower case, no spaces).  A glance at the food menu told me it was very much on the edge of what was acceptable in my self important pub code of conduct, edging the £8 mark at times, whilst being sat next to the Specials Board meant I felt like the whole pub came to have a look at me!  This is where Settle's lunchgoers were, and quite heartwarming they'd chosen the more 'real' pub.  That's not to say the people were real, and an embarrassing speaker phone conversation between boy and grandma showed a lack of pub etiquette, whether he'd dived right to the bottom of the swimming pool or not.  I wish he'd stayed there!  On a happier note, the local Settle brewed ale was fantastic.  Furthermore, I'd just beaten the rush and was alone on the hugest table in the pub whilst a group of goths edged into a tiny corner and scowled at me from a distance as I stretched out.  When I left, the phrase "jump in my grave" sprang to mind, typical goths (and the smiley one with Harry Potter t-shirt who somewhat discredited them!)

White Dog-tastic foody, gothic, speaker phone fun at the Talbot.
The much anticipated downpour typically arrived as I waited for the bus to Austwick (pronounced Ostwick) as it was one of those dodgy "stops on both sides of the road, honest guv" stops so an old woman helped reassure me.  The fare was only £1.70 so was glad I hadn't got a £10 day ticket.  20 mins later, we were in the pretty quiet village that was my key pub of the day due to my alphabetical OCD!

736.  Game Cock, Austwick

Well, well, well.  The GBG description makes this sound like a gastro shithole with a tiny final bastion left over to the old fashioned drinker.  Whether I was just lucky and never saw the worst of it, I walked into a cracking little bar room with a few tourists and locals dotted around the perimeter, drinking or eating but this was pubby, make no mistake.  It was Thwaites-central again so I went for their Hallowe'en guest called "Boo!" (St Peter's had one with the same name in London).  A jovial walker joked with me about how to order it, but I chickened out of making the barmaid jump out of her skin by shouting "BOO!" at her, sadly.  I then discovered a mini staircase to a room with a view through to the bar, it only had two tables and was tiny, but I was alone to eat my Scotch Egg (best pub food to keep you sober I've realised) and this was highlight of the day.  It was in my mind, the best pub room I've been in probably all year, certainly since the Old Sun at Harlington in June.  You might find my next decision surprising, but I was feeling so benevolent, I went to ask a foody couple who were struggle on a barrel seat in the main bar to commandeer 'my' room!  And I sat in the bar with a cracking pint of Thwaites Wainwright smiling at strangers until it was bus time.

A surprisingly high quality experience in Austwick, North Yorks. 
Despite a longish bus journey via Settle, again the cost was ridiculously cheap (£3 or summat).  I'd considered Helwith Bridge (a 3 mile walk) but the lack of busses / trains from the mile away Horton in Ribblesdale meant it wasn't really going to be possible without a seriously late night, and as it was, I could get a 4th pub a lot easier......

737. Masons Arms, Gargrave
 As I entered the low ceilinged traditional old pub with it's oak beams, bench seating and homely feel set in a great location between church and river, this was almost 'Green Owl' (new eupehmism for my perfect pub) territory.  However.  Jeff Stelling was jabbering away on Sky Sports and a group a 5 excitable lads were loving it, especially one, who declared he was ONE result away from winning £4,100 on his accumulator.  All that needed to happen was that Middlesbrough had to equalise at Hull City, and I could barely contain my enjoyment of watching him squirm as his friend pretended they'd equalised, only seconds later for Jeff to tell us it was 2-0.  I punched my settee in delight, perhaps a bit too obviously as the whole pub turned around!   A gaggle of barmaids buzzed around, but the real star of the show was the landlord.  He couldn't have screamed "pub guv'nor" more if it had been tattooed across his forehead.  I felt sorry for the barmaid who arrived a whole 3 minutes late due to traffic.  But she didn't get the stern telling off I'd expected!  The beers were top quality, an Aired Ale from the much pushed Bridgehouse brewery and then one of the best Tim Taylor Landlord's I've had all year.  Really good pub this, to rival Austwick for pub of the day, and a Hull City 3rd did it no harm at all.  Gerrin Gargrave!  

Accumulator amusement in Gargrave

Despite a 34 minutes delayed train back to Leeds (which I've since learned from my transport correspondent was due to floods), it was a wholly successful day.  Even at this point, a trialist footballer offered me a lift with him and his agent back to Skipton but I decided not to bother and gave my Mum a ring instead to prove how sober Scotch eggs keep ya!  

A swift half in York Tap and some fish n chips spelled the end to a good day.  Back up to 96 pubs in North Yorkshire, though that might be it for 2015 from that county.  I never feel I make much progress with flippin' North Yorks!  

Bridgestones beers going down well in Masons Arms, Gargrave.
No Monday night archives this week, this Blog entry will have to do!  I might or might not be ready to release one next Monday.

Tomorrow night's trip with Christina to her typically student confines of Headingley are postponed whilst she recovers from girl-flu, but fear not, I'm hopping along to the next one alphabetically and with a Chas n' Dave gig on Wednesday, I'll try and do the Blog write up immediately i.e. tomorrow night.  

And Saturday sees Bedfordshire Part IX, hopefully getting 4 of the remaining 8 pubs I need to complete the county (if I don't get eaten by a lion).  Two more pubs combined with some Cambridgeshire ticks in December, and the final two combined with a bit of Hertfordshire early in the New Year).

See ya soon!  Si 


  1. Did you end up on the 10:49 Leeds - Carlisle Citadel? I had half expected to see you on either the 08:19 or the 08:49, as I was on both with a bit of a fill in move.

    Could it be that the rush of lunchers did in fact arrive but got lost going into the pub, thus either ending up in the Talbot or locked in a dusty cupboard off the courtyard?

    I consider anybody having City to do anything but lose in an accumulator to be an idiot. Indeed, I consider anybody placing money on an accumulator, barring them having some form of highly cunning plan to make it that they have a combination of bets such that they can't possible lose, to either have too much money or to be an idiot. Or both.

    The flooding was on the station approach road to Gargrave rather than the railway itself. I assume from your lack of comment on the matter that you retained your dry feat and that the water had dissipated in the intervening 8 or so hours. Assuming you were on the 17:44 from Gargrave, the delay would appear to have been caused by the failure of the 15:24 Lancaster - Morecambe. No delay money eligible as you were delayed by less than an hour and the Dutch portion of Northern would clearly like to spend their money on herbal products.

    I was slightly surprised that you didn't attend the apple throwing competition last night. Rachel was disappointed not to see you. John is delighted to only have had to give away a gallon of blackcurrant cordial. Albert survived being accidentally hit by my final shot when I had won anyway the little bugger

    1. Late reply Tom sorry but yes, was on the 10:49, had to tie in with pub opening times so too early would have meant much hanging around in the rain.

      I therefore somehow stayed dry that day and if it hadn't been for you, I wouldn't have even known train delays were due to flooding. Looking back, it was quite a strange day and I still need Helwith Bridge!

    2. I don't understand how you stayed dry. That day was the only time I have ever known a gallery of photters lined on the precipice of a waiting shelter. It also featured a rare apology from a guard for losing her T-key and thus leaving us outside for a further soaking.

  2. As noted before, North Yorkshire is like a BRAPA in miniature. Middlesbrough apart, there aren't that many micros or new bars, but it still seems to get a lot of new entries (about 30 I think this year).

    I might get to the Lion and Game Cock this Friday from a Skipton base this weekend (5.30pm Sat kick-offs are great).

    NB Perhaps the bloke in your first pub was off to see Hull Tigers, a soccer team in Kingston. Just a thought.

    1. Both years now, I seem to suffer quite a big loss in North Yorks when I do the cross ticking. Frustrating county as I always say but think you will enjoy Austwick main bar, Lion is a bit tame though!