Tan Hill Inn for tea
Image copyright https://www.tanhillinn.com/
Driving seventy thousand miles per year meant that I would travel to places most people would not consider on a whim, on several occasions arriving home, my wife would join me and we would go out to the Tan Hill Inn for tea, at 1732 feet above sea level, Britain’s highest pub. The fact that it was a 150-mile round trip did not present as an issue.
The inn is an incredible place to visit, it has featured in so many television adverts that you feel you know the place and there is always something happening.
For an inn that is so remote, it seems to be remarkably busy all year round, you are often lucky to get seats. The food at the time was basic fare to fill walkers, cyclists etc. such offerings as giant Yorkshire pudding filled with sausages or lamb were popular.
On one occasion, one of my children asked the proprietor “do you charge for water”, at which he leaned right over the bar and said in a very quiet voice “not unless you are American”.
On another, a howling gale was blowing, and two Americans walked in, delaying with the door open to take off their boots, hats, coats etc. The proprietor shouted to them to close the door quickly please. Later they apologised for letting in the cold weather, the proprietor leaned over the bar and said “we are used to the weather here, I asked you to shut the door to keep the sheep out”, they looked amazed, then realised they were having their legs pulled, however he said “if you don’t believe me, open the door” two seconds later two sheep were in the pub wanting the small packs of biscuits from beside the coffee machine.
At 3:00 AM once, one of the guests asked, what time do you close as it’s 10:30 where I come from, the proprietor looked at his watch for ages, then turned and looked at the calendar, pointing to it he replied “next June”.
The pub had open beams and pinned to these on almost every available spot were donated items from visitors from all over the world, nothing was off limits (save for porn), banknotes, funny cards, ties, a slice of pizza (didn’t last long though) photographs and almost anything you can imagine. My contribution was a small bag of black balls, the label said they were ceramic sheep droppings, modelled on genuine sheep droppings collected from the North Yorkshire Moors. It seemed very appropriate.
The corner table In the main bar, to the left of the door as you arrive is the largest in this part of the pub, it is very popular with larger groups although not as close to the fire as some of the tables. In the very far corner to the right of the window and behind anyone sitting with their backs to the window, hidden behind the beams there was a twelve inch hairy black fake spider, this could be lowered on a string controlled from the bar. I have witnessed people suddenly catch an eyeful of the spider as it dropped a foot or more into view and run out of the pub screaming. Such was the sense of humour of the tenant.
Camping outside the inn on one occasion, I had my two teenage sons, their friend and my daughter aged two at that time, it was my eldest sons thirteenth birthday and we drove to the inn to camp, the friend they had invited, as we crested the last hill and could finally see the inn said, “how on earth did you know there was a pub out here?”.
The boys were mucking about with a climbing rope, and had started to get bored, so two wrapped the rope around their chests, with twenty feet of loose rope, they held a dual, they ran in opposite directions until they ran out of rope, then stopped abruptly, this winded them both, collapsing on the ground they decided that it hurt too much to go again.
Meanwhile my daughter had been looking into one of the hen huts in the field, she had returned to the tent for the torch and was now shining it into one looking at three worried hens inside. The following morning, we discovered that she had woken in the middle of the night and fed the ham out of our sandwiches to the pub’s cat.
On another visit, my friend Chris took his son and I took my two sons to camp, my Chris decided that he wanted to try a pub further down the dale for tea as they had their own brewery, his impossible goal was to be able to say he had drunk a pint from every brewery in Yorkshire, he is still trying. However, on this occasion Chris had just taken delivery of a brand new company car a Honda Civic 2.2 saloon which was fast, and low, the pub had three beers Chris had never had before, so he had to have a pint of each, throwing me the keys to his car to drive back.
As we arrived, I made to drive onto the field to park next to his tent, stopping just in time in the car park, but it made him jump at the thought I was going to take the car onto the field in the dark which is covered in drop stones.