Sunday 7 June 2015

BRAPA - Chapel-le-Dale & Skipton

Problems at Dent station
The North Yorkshire section of my BRAPA section continued, alphabetically of course, with our next pub tick, Chapel-le-Dale.  So after a fairly straightforward journey to Ribblehead via Leeds, I was walking two miles into a VERY strong wind over to the west.  I tried my best to power walk it, and in doing so, overtook a professional looking walker with a cheery "hello!"  He grimaced back by way of reply.

664 - Old Hill Inn, Chapel-le-Dale - About two miles walking later, I was there and for once, it was nice to see an ancient looking North Yorks walkers pub matched by a nice traditional wooden interior rather than some wannabe gastropub.  The welcome was more traditonally 'walkers pub' as the stern barmaid didnt exactly offer service with a smile and did everything at one mile an hour.  I took ages to get served as the Fowler family from Liverpool (no sign of Robbie before you ask) had ordered a coffee, tea and coke which seemed to test all of her resources.  As resident dog "Peggy" jumped up, she made a joke about her being the "new barmaid" and I forgave her.  I finally got sat down with my pleasant pint of Dent Aviator in the only proper seat I could find, behind the piano!  I just had to hope the other customers didn't expect me to play a tune but the only ones who smiled at me were two visiting black labradors.   The wind was vicious and I could feel it vaguely through a rickety old door near the piano.   The walkers and dogs just kept on coming until I almost couldn't find a route out of the pub and 'adventurously' went via a side dining room they were trying to keep dogs out of!  

Since 1615!  The Old Hill Inn at Chapel-le-Dale.

With the wind at my back, the walk back to Ribblehead was a lot easier and I nipped in to the Station Inn for a quick half (more on that pub when I review it in my archives as it wasn't a new one) and then I took the train to Dent.  This was a BRAPA faux-pas as I should have researched the fact that Dent itself was 4 miles away, not time to get to and from the pub!  Even Cowgill was a painful walk so I spent most of my time having a picnic in the station waiting room, the highest station in England and the wind was nearly breaking the doors in.  It was a painful 50 minutes.  

The train back towards Leeds was on time, and I chatted to a lad from Dumfries about BRAPA potential in that part of the world - Annan also featured.  I "alighted" at Skipton where I had three more pubs to do.  

665 - Woolly Sheep, Skipton - I'd walked past this pub two years ago with my sister, chuckled at it's quirky name put paid little attention.  Now I see it in the GBG, and it required proper attention and seeing it was a Timothy Taylor's pub, I had quite high hopes.  What I wasn't expecting was an absolutely heaving pub full of mainly over tanned 40 somethings obviously just here for a drink.  The pub seemed big enough to cater for all, but whether it was the cosy front room, the bar area or even the windswept courtyard, there were Skipton folk everywhere.  And then, I realised the problem.  The pub had a huge "diners only" section (which has even had a new extended bit built on).  I perched by the fruit machine, as near to it as I could get without being chucked out!  I have to say, a total pet hate of mine this and nearly sat down anyway just to see if I could argue with the staff, but they seemed female and smiley!  I was one of several drinkers struggling for space and it seems this pub has it's priorities wrong.  A shame as you could see how nice the pub could be on a quieter day, plus my Le Champion ale was very good.  

Woolly Sheep - standing room only

666 - Albion, Skipton - So I'd reached the number of the devil, and if Satan had been unleashed by BRAPA, he had taken the form of one of my other pub pet hates - 'people who block the bar area when there is an entire empty room for them to sit!'  They cannot have been comfy surely, especially as one craggy old local started singing operatic style.  Even when someone smashed a glass in the same area, they wouldn't even move for the barmaid's dustpan and brush.  This was very much a mirror of the Woolly Sheep experience.  Something about pubs called the Albion I've noticed they always seem to have a what can only be described as an "old man" pub atmosphere.   When I did get served, the barmaid was friendly, quirky and begged me to try paying with change, which I'd carefully done in the Woolly Sheep, wish I'd saved it for here.  Personally, having a whole seating area to yourself was the perfect contrast with the last pub and after "piano-gate" in Chapel-le-Dale, I'd almost forgotten how to sit down normally in a pub situation!  My ale, Golden XPA by Caledonian was the only 'interesting' guest I could see, but it's taste was averagely good. 

Albion in Skipton - devil pub!

667 - Le Bistro Des Amis, Skipton - I'd thought this was closed on my 'sister visit' two years ago but now I realised the entrance is actually down a side street and I entered to find a light, friendly cafe bar with dining areas upstairs and to the back.  This was very much a top class French eatery with real ale though I could tell the emphasis was on the food, as they were proud of recent awards they'd won.  I also learnt there is a Skipton car rally on soon, and an old man was chatting with a French accented bar man (all the way from Grassington, perhaps!) about cars, sadly a topic I find so boring I didn't try to engage and sat down near the bar.  I'd been asked if I was dining with them as he served me an Ilkey Mary Jane, he seemed surprised when I made it clear I was only here for the beer!  The ale was nice (surely they should have sold Marie Jaune by the same brewery, or Le Champion as per Woolly Sheep) but the lemony taste gave way to some sulphur, so I wondered if it was on the turn.  When a man and two dogs left, they left behind an old lady who started talking to me about this bar and Skipton in general and it was nice to have found a place with a friendly atmosphere to end my day, having been a bit un-enthused up to this point.

The GBG with a rare foray into French culture in Skipton

I had quite a march to to the station to make the train back to Leeds, and I was in York before 8:30pm.  It won't win my BRAPA day of the year award, but I was glad to get four new ticks in, especially the vital Chapel-le-Dale one, and we can now focus in on Claughton as part of the July 4th "Welly day out" excursion.  

See you in a few days for a West Yorks update, it looks like being Holmfirth now as I'm suddenly, work-wise, NOT on checking after all! 



  1. Unless the bus fares in those parts are cheap, I'd obtain a Leeds Plus Bus for Holmfirth, they are valid in all of West Yorkshire.

  2. Thanks Tom, the bus was £3.50 so perhaps I should've taken your advice, but not too bad.