Friday 7 January 2022


Between 2014-17, I worked hard at getting the county of North Yorkshire fully greened up.  A fine achievement, though the chauffeuring of Daddy BRAPA was key.  I need a Devon Daddy BRAPA when I start that scary looking county in 2023!

Anyway, I left N Yorks alone for a few years, exploring 'other ventures'.  But recently, I started to look at it again, especially that huge section to the north west of the county AKA The Yorkshire Dales.  Mummy BRAPA had given me a James Herriot book to read over Christmas.  'Twas a sign.  The time was right to get back on the Daleside horse!

I'll be honest with you know.  My early memories of Dales ticking are this - gastropubs / restaurants , surly staff, unmemorable 'pubs' & dull beer.  

And here I was, having to revisit places like Hawes, Leyburn and Askrigg which I'd been to at least once.  Let us just say I wasn't expecting a day of first class ticking.  

On the plus side, being mostly residential establishments in a famous tourist area, opening hours were generous, even on a Tuesday Bank Holiday immediately after Christmas.

The Daddy BRAPAmobile arrived at BRAPA Towers 09:30am pronto, and off we set to our furthest point out, Hawes, which is practically in the Lake District if you tilt your head and squint.  

Pub Curmudgeon won an award for working out where I was going based on the below photos, which I will present him with in Stockport's latest unlikely GBG entry, Project Something.  I hope he likes Mini Cheddars.

We arrive in the little town at 11:30am, and pull up opposite the pub.  Would be great if I could get in before noon wouldn't it? I see a couple of comings and goings, feel optimistic, Dad takes the photo but waits in the car .....

... the door opens easily, the lights are on, a lady is on the floor playing with a toddler, a couple are eating breakfast in the corner.  Another lady is behind the bar, one hand resting on the Tim Taylor Landlord pump, the other on the Black Sheep one.  I open my mouth, but she says "we're not open til 12" and I feel like saying something very sarcastic like "you couldn't look any more bloody open" , especially when she throws a glance to the other lady on the floor like "why do these numpties keep waltzing in pre-noon and asking for beer?"  

"I'll be back!" I say, puffing out my chest and forcing a smile. 

I leave, give Dad a thumbs down, hop in the car, and we drive up to the Creamery, where Dad had always intended to nurse a coffee for half an hour whilst I tick.  I join him for coffee, he gets a scone and clotted cream too, tempting, but I wanna down the coffee, sprint back to the pub, and be in for 12!  I buy some Wensleydale cheese on my way out though, it is law.  

Back at the pub, 12:02, I stride back in, this time, she asks what I'm drinking before I even open my mouth.  Wahey, welcome to the Board Inn, Hawes (1984 / 3547).  It is a delightful pub, and I mean pub -  cosy, benches, and the pint of Landlord is simply stunning.  When TTL is kept this well, there really is nothing that beats it.  A bloke in mask has been loitering for some time, finally he's presented with two packaged ham sandwiches, which he passes to his wife and child outside.  "Phew, panic over!" says the returning sandwich maker to the barmaid.  I wonder how good this pub is under pressure.  They have a funny attitude to customers, no doubt borne out of a lifetime of tourists faffing around not knowing what the hell they want.  They aren't unpleasant, in fact the brusqueness is quite endearing in a Yorkshire sense.  Funny when three generations of the same Huddersfield man enter, and enquire about food.  When they are told "no rush, sit down, take your time, order a drink first" they take her at face value.  One of the blokes takes off his coat, goes up to the bar to order drinks 30 seconds or so later, and she quickly says "you ready to order food?!"  Woah!  The blokes chuckle, and so do I.  So does Colin.  I can't help but like this place.  Funny weird, but also funny pub great.

I had to ask for a top up once I got to my seat

That was my third GBG trip to Hawes, and easily the most memorable.  And 5 miles east back towards home, if you want to look at it like that, it was time for my second GBG tick in Askrigg.  Cap on, I was going for the Herriot-chic look, ended up like a Docklands Dell Boy.  #Fail

Colin you plonker!

I also had to edit out my 'Christmas tummy' which looked terrible.  Must start jogging again in the New Year.  Crown Inn, Askrigg (1985 / 3548) then, Daddy BRAPA joining me in this one, and we are immediately drawn in by the homely, local atmosphere which would define the majority of pubs today.  King's Arms, my 2014 GBG tick here, had been quite touristy, so this was a pleasant surprise.  The landlady is an absolute jewel, doesn't mind my photo, and you just click with some staff, maybe its my new hat?  Anyway, we chat happily on Pub Lockdowns, Staff with Covid, and other jolly topics, warm ourselves on a fire to our right, avoid the scowls of CRK (Camouflage Roy Keane) and squeeze on a table opposite a young walking couple having lunch.  I don't know about you, I always get a sense of guilt in such scenarios that I haven't done a 20 mile walk, setting off at 6am, so I start puffing and blowing and trying to look exhausted, smearing mud on my shoes and face, to try and look like I've actually earned my Dales pints.  

Time for pub three, making good early progress here, and a nice dude off Twitter says whilst I'm here, am I going to a pub he likes in a made up place called Carperby?  But it isn't in the GBG so obviously, I'm not, so I try to photograph it to appease him, but miss!

Slightly off the beaten track even in comparison to Hawes and Askrigg, we come to Redmire, a BRAPA debutant and a very beautiful village.  Pub looks nice too.  The pub dog cowers in fear as I pull Colin out of my new bag to say 'hello' in what was supposed to be a Brummie accent.

"Alroite skip, I'm just a friendly Cauliflower"

Bolton Arms, Redmire (1986 / 3549) is my least favourite pub experience of the day, but that isn't to criticise the place.  It is going for highbrow large dining venue, the hard working staff seem a great bunch, they are obviously excellent at what they do, just not my kinda environment.  As Dad gets the ales in, I run the gauntlet along the wooden boarded floor towards the toilets, through the giant extended family Christmas dinner.  I step over two dogs, three twilds.  A drunken uncle is trying to get his party hat on.  Teenage daughter is surreptitiously supping the dregs of someone's white wine.  A tipsy Mummy looks like she'd be comfier on the cool stone floor next to the dogs.  Some elderly aunts say hi to me.  After my wee, I don't even try to make my way back through towards Dad.  I've found an unreserved table at the far end.  So I just frantically wave him until he sees.  The kind aunts give me a wave too.  I point at Dad.  They wave at him too.  It is wayyyy too warm in here, and the beer is kept a little bit too cold.  But mustn't grumble, half way there, and if we can get back to York not too late, I know Dad'll really appreciate it!

Next stop Leyburn, another place where I cannot believe there's a new GBG entry I've not done, despite two previous visits.  Places like this you really should 'Winfield it' and just do everything in town whilst you are there til you fall over.

Dad, realising Leyburn is a slightly bigger place where he can explore and potentially find a cafe, gives this one a swerve too.  

Possibly because I'd always viewed Leyburn as quite a genteel town, I was totally disarmed by the sheer pubbiness of the King's Head, Leyburn (1987 / 3550) and would end up rating it as my pub of the day.  When I walked in, I clocked this vast, bare farmhousey style room to the left leading to the loos, inhabited by two miserable old blokes effin' and blinding like Irish navvies.  Scenes you love to see.  I thoroughly expected to be bringing my pint (a gorgeous new one called 'Frostbite' - rare to see new beers in this part of the world) back through here, but the roaring fire, and dimly lit locals main bar with people saying 'ey up lad' made this an even more inviting space.  Christmas dinner was the topic of debate ... "I'd rather shit in my hands and clap than eat a sprout" says one bloke.  No one argued.   Really felt Dad was missing out so I was delighted when the shadowy hunched figured who enters later on asking for a half isn't the ghost of Richard III but actually Daddy BRAPA himself.  If Daddy BRAPA knew there were Princes in his Tower, he'd not murder them secretly, but instead he'd make them a corned beef and tomato sandwich and chauffeur them to some jolly event of their choosing.   What a pub, and it had already been in my good books for being great Facebook communicators, making it explicitly clear what times they are opening every day over Christmas and New Year.  Other pubs need be more King's Head Leyburn.  

The sun always struggles to get too high up in the sky at this time of year, and you already felt dusk was looming as we headed to the village of Middleham for our fifth pub.

I'd been on a random road trip to Middleham once with Sister BRAPA, where I remember sitting outside a pub and drinking an okay pint of 'Black Bull' by Theakstons.  But it was pre-BRAPA so I wasn't paying attention to the pub name, so it may've been this one, but I don't think so.  This pub just looked a bit more ornate. 

Richard III, Middleham (1988 / 3551) looked inviting from the outside, and it was a welcome hobbity grotto style atmosphere within.  Taking into account the fact that my mind isn't always quite there during what I call 'fifth pub of the day syndrome', it all made for a heady, intoxicating experience.  Busiest pub of the day too, we squeezed into a table for two in the corner, where lots of visiting West Yorkies (who always struggle to stay in their lane on a Bank Holiday) had their faces in the nosebag, occasionally pausing for breath to admire two gorgeous docile dogs opposite us all, blocking the floor space, belonging to a local lady who seemed to love the attention that they were bringing to her!  Colin the Cauliflower - you MUST try harder.  So he sat upright, and tried to boss the pub, but it wasn't happening.  It was all a bit of a glorious blur, as people started asking the staff to take photos of them, and I can tell you there was something magical in the air, or my bloodstream, on the day I went to Middleham!

One pub left to do, we'd made such good progress, we were inevitably stymied by Dad's Sat Nav which took us a ridiculously long way around, making the secluded hamlet of Thornton Watlass seem even more remote than it was, tucked into that corridor of uncertainty, north of Masham, south of Bedale.

We stopped to eat our sandwiches, mustn't forget to eat on a day out (nearly eight years into BRAPA, and I'm still learning this!) and then got out of the car in this ridiculously dark village to tackle our final pub.

Buck Inn, Thornton Watlass (1989 / 3552) was a peculiar note on which to end 2021 ticking.  Very much a pub of two distinct sides, the right hand side was markedly cosier, with fire, soft furnishings, even though the whole place had obviously been recently refurbished.  The problem was, there was some event going on, and you couldn't get into this half of the pub, never mind find a seat.  Only solution was to go around to the left hand room which was a giant function room called the 'Long Room'.  Tales from the Long Room?  More Tales from the Long Room?  Good cricketing books them, recommend.  Problem was, as nice as my pint of Falconer was, the room had all the atmosphere of a late nineties end of night works event where the girl you like has just got off with your best mate, you are sat alone on the table on your 15th bottle of Corona, Total Eclipse of the Heart has just merged into Nothing Compares 2 U, the purple disco ball darts around the floor,  taunting you wickedly, no sympathy for your mood, your new shoes are giving you blisters, as you finally realise you can unloosen your tie for the first time tonight.  But don't feel sad.  It wasn't really like that cos I was with Daddy BRAPA, and we were probably talking about something amusing and/or interesting, and six ticks in the Dales is always cause for celebration.

A success beyond my wildest imagination of Yorkshire Dales ticking!  

A fine way to end 2021, and it all meant renewed optimism for 2022, which would begin in beautiful Blackpool on NYD.  

See you on Sunday night for that one,

Take care, Si 

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