Monday, January 05, 2009

The Ale Trail - Pub Reviews

The Ale Trail - Pub Reviews, as featured in the Yorkshire Post

By Mark Reid, author of ‘The Inn Way’ guidebooks

On the trail of Yorkshire’s great country pubs, where walkers are welcome,
beer is in tip top condition and the food is hearty and wholesome.

Lister Arms, Malham, Malhamdale

Malham is undoubtedly one of Yorkshire’s most popular tourist honey-pots, up there with Haworth and Fountains Abbey. The reason people flock to Malham in their tens of thousands each year is to see Malham Cove, one of England’s natural wonders. In fact, as the keen geographers amongst you will know, the Malham area boasts the finest glacio-karst landscape in this country. In other words, there are some pretty spectacular limestone cliffs and valleys that were shaped by glacial meltwater during the last Ice Age. The immense rock face of Malham Cove was formed by movements in the earth's crust along the Mid Craven Fault millions of years ago which vertically displaced an immense slab of Great Scar Limestone over seventy metres upwards. After the last Ice Age, torrents of meltwater poured over the lip of Malham Cove to create an incredible waterfall higher than Niagara. As the ice melted and the ground warmed, this river found a new subterranean route thus leaving Watlowes valley ‘high and dry’. It is no wonder that so many people visit Malham, and the best way to see all of this is on foot.

I had arranged to meet two American travel writers to show them the sights. We sometimes take our countryside for granted, but when you experience it with someone who has never visited England before then it makes you very proud. I knew all would be well as I approached the Lister Arms, for this 18th Century coaching inn oozes character, with its ivy-clad facade and coat of arms above the door. We met at the bar and sat at a table near the log burning stove, whilst Elvis (my dog) sat attentively sniffing the air as food was served at nearby tables. It all felt very comfortable. The Americans had only been introduced to English ale two nights before and loved the complex flavours and, with four hand-pulled ales from Thwaites of Blackburn on offer, they asked my advice. As we were going for a walk, I recommended a pint of Wainwright (ABV 4.1%, £2.75 a pint), a light and fruity ale that is named after the great Lakeland fell-walker, whilst I plumped for a pint of Nutty Black (ABV 3.3%, £2.35 a pint), a deliciously dark mild ale packed full of roasted malt flavours. The minestrone soup (£3.95) arrived quickly; tasty and homemade with strands of spaghetti in it and topped by grated cheese; a meal in itself. Lunch over, we set off towards Malham Cove then followed the stone staircase steeply up to its top. The afternoon sun was beginning to dip towards the horizon, its faltering rays slanting across the valley far below highlighting an intricate web of fields and walls. We stood there in quiet contemplation taking in the view, for this was the English countryside at its very best.

Lister Arms, Malham, North Yorkshire. Tel: 01729 830330

Opening Hours:
Open all day. Food served 12 – 3pm and 6 – 9pm during the winter months, all day Easter to October.

A good range of food including Game Pie (£10:50), Steak & Kidney Pudding (£9:50) and 10oz Rump Steak (£13:95).

Real Ales
Choice of four hand-pulled ales from Thwaites Brewery, including Nutty Black (ABV 3.3%), Original Best Bitter (ABV 3.6%), Wainwright (ABV 4.1%) and Lancaster Bomber (ABV 4.4%).

9 rooms, from £28 per person per night (pets welcome).

Walkers Welcome?
Walkers and dogs welcome, with three bar areas and a separate dining room. The bar boasts many original features including an inglenook fireplace.


1 comment:

  1. One of my favourite dales pubs. When I 'rediscovered' the dales in 2001 it was the first pub my, soon to be wife, and I stayed at. They had a wonderful selection of Belgian beers as well as the range of real ales. Walkers were warmly welcomed.