Towering limestone crags, meadows of purple heather, and rows and rows of dry-stone walls separating glowing green fields – let’s face it, few British landscapes match the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales. The cornerstone of life here is an array of traditional pubs serving fabulous local fare and some of the country’s finest real ales.
The Queens Arms
Litton is one of the most secluded and stunningly beautiful spots in the entire Dales. And the 70 or so residents here adore, with good reason, their local pub, the Queens Arms. The whitewashed 17th-century Inn, with its exposed brick interior and cushioned chairs, offers a selection of fine local ales chosen by the expert landlord Steve (ask for a sample first!) Once inside you will feel detached from the world, especially when the roaring fire gets going on a chilly winter’s evening. The enormously friendly locals usually gather around the bar while the restaurant serves locally-sourced food such as rump steak and battered haddock, chips and peas.
Litton, Skipton, BD23 5QJ.
The King’s Arms
Located on the main road that winds through Askrigg, this 700-year-old pub has grown quite a reputation in the Dales. Its warm interior and welcoming, not to mention knowledgeable, staff pull in the punters as much as the selection of cask ales from the Theakston’s brewery in Masham. The taster tray of three local ales provides the ideal starting point and is an absolute steal for £3. The food, ranging from steak and ale pie to fillet of sea bass, doesn’t break the bank either. Aside from the fabulous fare, the King’s Arms featured in the 1970s BBC drama All Creatures Great and Small as the Drovers Arms and old photos of filming for the show adorn many of the walls.
Askrigg, Leyburn, DL8 3HQ
The New Inn
Located in the charming village of Clapham, the New Inn merges the warmth of an 18th-century Coaching Inn with a slick modern interior and a welcoming atmosphere. In the summer, cyclists, bikers and walkers (especially those tackling the Three Peaks Challenge) bask in the sun in the backyard beer garden or at the front, sat among the stone buildings, lulled by the chug of the babbling brook. When the frosty months arrive, guests defrost with a cup of steaming mulled wine or cider by the roaring, crackling fire. As well as a well-stocked bar, the New Inn’s bistro serves up some incredible cuisine, from a three-bone lamb rack to a Moroccan-style chicken leg. Do note: Book ahead of time as it gets busy.
Old Road, Clapham, LA2 8HH
The White Hart
As well as stunning moorland scenery, an international crowd and diverse cuisine, Hawes holds its fair share of fine English pubs. And the White Hart is one of the best. Located in its town centre, this 16th-century Coaching Inn fills with drinkers and diners, and those keen for a spot of dominoes! The interior merges an old wooden oak décor and roaring fire with contemporary design, giving the place a sophisticated ambience. The White Hart welcomes visitors from far and wide and has focused dining on high-end fare served by well-dressed and friendly staff.
Main St, Hawes DL8 3Q
The Falcon Inn
As traditional Yorkshire pubs go, the Falcon Inn takes top billing. Located in Arncliffe, a tiny village sat beneath the rolling moorlands and limestone crags, it’s as if this fine watering hole exists in another world. Guests arrive through a vine-covered entrance into what seems like someone’s front room. The bar barely fits two barrels of fine local ale alongside the braced landlord, Steven, who prepares his liquid supplies with the utmost Steven serves up specialist ales as well as one poured straight into the jug for a more flavoursome tinge. The bar becomes so busy on an evening that locals, many of whom have called this place a second home for two decades, will be sitting on the staircase or leaning against any free segment of wall they can find.
Arncliffe, Skipton, BD23 5QE.
Game Cock Inn
While the premises are rather large, the small corridors and tight alcoves make the Game Cock Inn a surprisingly intimate pub. As well as the locals stopping in for a pint or two after work, this spot attracts young couples and families looking for a high-quality dinner (from local to French and Mediterranean) at a reasonable price. The bar serves Thwaites ales like smooth Nutty Black and Crystal Maze – ideal tipples for cyclists and walkers on the famous Three Peaks trail. For the seal of approval, just check out the wall opposite the wooden bar that is plastered with awards and certificates.
The Green, Austwick, LA2 8BB
The Crown at Hawes
If there were an award for the best all-rounder, the Sir Ian Botham of pubs, then the Crown would take the honours. Set in the heart of Hawes’ throbbing centre, this pub and restaurant attract those from all walks of life, from the well-heeled couple on a romantic night out to leather-clad bikers stopping off on their moorland jaunt. At the bar, local labourers thumb through the paper with a pint of beer for company, while families swap stories next to the roaring fireplace. The Crown holds two beer gardens, one on the main road at the front and one looking out onto the Upper Wensleydale scenery and Buttertubs Pass – a winding road made famous after it formed part of the Tour de France in 2014.
Market Pl, Hawes DL8 3RD
With a reputation reaching beyond the green hills of the Yorkshire Dales, the Lister Arms thrives in excellence. Lying in the heart of Malham’s town centre, its sage-green lawn hums with walkers, cyclists and families basking in the summer sun. When the winter months arrive, visitors head inside its vine-covered exterior, into the homely bar serving a wide array of fine Thwaites ales. The menu consists of local hearty fare including a selection of fine beef dishes. If you arrive on a Sunday, the roast dinner is a must. The huge slabs of beef, crispy Yorkshire puddings and glugs of thick gravy will set you up perfectly for a walk to the famous Malham Cove or the Gordale Scar waterfalls.
Malham, Skipton BD23 4DB
The Bridge Inn
Sitting on the banks of the stunning River Swale, the Bridge Inn lures locals and charms visitors with a warm and friendly vibe bypassing most other pubs. Upon pulling open the door, you’ll feel the soothing atmosphere that perfectly complements the quaint surroundings of this tiny, less than 100 population, village. In 2014, however, Grinton was transformed into a hive of cycling fever when the Tour de France passed by its front door. Such was the impact on Grinton that you can relive the race by asking a member of staff or local who’ll be happy to reminisce, even show you a video or two. The Bridge Inn serves some sumptuous well-kept local ales, at a reasonable rate, and the occasional guest tipple.
Grinton, Richmond, DL11 6HH.