From a full English breakfast to steak and ale pie made from scratch my heatwave week in the Dales was pure food heaven / Dave Thomas

We spent the week of the heatwave up in the Dales in a farmhouse cottage.
Dave Thomas waxes lyrical about a blissful week  spent in the DalesDave Thomas waxes lyrical about a blissful week  spent in the Dales
Dave Thomas waxes lyrical about a blissful week spent in the Dales

It’s a place we go to regularly a few miles from Settle, in a little valley down a dusty lane that’s hidden from the road.

It’s not often 'oop north that it’s too hot to move but this was a week when we sat in the shade of the huge tree in the back garden most afternoons after a trip out in the morning to Settle, Clapham or Ribblehead.

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We watched plenty of other people trekking up to Ingleborough and Whernside, and 'thought rather them than us.'

Hot it may have been and not much cooler in the evenings either, but that didn’t stop us from visiting the Station Inn at Ribblehead, the Talbot in Settle, Elaine’s Tea Rooms in Feizor, and the New Inn, in Clapham.

The Station Hotel at Ribblehead, steeped in history, an oasis of refreshment in a rugged landscape.

Going back to 1879 it was built around the same time as the viaduct and was both a pub and a farm. Its first landlord was also a schoolmaster, a job where you certainly need a drink at the end of a draining day.

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The view of the viaduct and Whernside from the back garden is stunning. On the day we visited I knew a steam train was due but didn’t tell the others. “Going on a mystery tour,” I told them.

Around 11-30am up the line it steamed, the blue sky clear, bright sun, what a sight and just a handful of

us in the garden to see it.

The area around is known as Batty Moss and up to 2,000 workers lived here in primitive conditions. In the pub at one end stands the old enormous Victorian fire range that occupies nearly a whole wall.

At the opposite end is the bar with the menu. I have had more steak and ale pies than I can remember but this one is proper. A proper pie with proper pastry not that flaky, crumbly, puff pastry stuff that is an affront to the word pie.

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The blurb says that a Station Inn pie is made from scratch, the filling, the pastry, with local ingredients as often as possible. None of your ready-made stuff. Renowned says the menu. Indeed.

Feizor is a hamlet of cottages and ancient Dales houses. Elaine’s Tea Rooms are at the confluence of walks in all directions. A couple of miles off the main Settle Road you could miss the turn quite easily. We found it only because we did a long walk there some years ago. Tea Rooms is a bit of a misnomer; it’s a big old farmhouse that does everything from big breakfasts to Sunday dinners.

We always have a breakfast there, all the better if you are at an outside table with the sun beaming down. Foot traffic is constant with walkers heading by.

I’m running out of words, but the 18th century New Inn, an old coaching stop in Clapham, serves a 10oz steak and chips that you will not forget. The Talbot Arms in Settle is the definition of good pub, good pub grub. The Haddock Mornay, nom nom.

If ever you are up there, try them.

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