>Joe Fusniak would have been well looked after when he appeared at the White Lion, which remains a great, unpretentious pub. Not everywhere has remained unspoiled by progress, and not a few places in the Dales have been gastrated with varying degrees of success. I’ve heard of stares and even outright hostility toward visitors wanting just a pint and some crisps rather than a glass of Barolo and a bisque-infused crab and pea risotto with sun-boiled onions. None of this, mercifully, at the Fox And Hounds at bunting-wrapped Starbotton where we stopped for a post-Pike quencher. It’s a classic Dales Inn – bow back chairs, flagstones, old shotguns on the walls – and a polite notice asking walkers to remove muddy boots. There are never any surprises with beer in a Dales pub. Jennings, Theakston. Maybe a Taylor’s. There’s always Black Sheep Bitter, which must surely have a claim to be Yorkshire’s Official Pint with the demise of Tetley.
The Fox’s guest was the Yorkshire Dales Brewery’s Nappa Scar, and we took a couple of pints out front to watch chartered accountants wobble past on their Harleys. On our last encounter with an unsparkled Nappa Scar, I thought it smelled like a farmyard. Here it was all hops, billowing facefuls and huge mouthfuls of the stuff. I don’t know much about IBUs – but I bet this wasn’t far off the Stone Ruination that I tried t’other month. The hophead’s perfect pint after a four-hour walk. And we didn’t even mind that it was £3.20 – about the same price it would be at the Harp just off Trafalgar Square.
>Going north from Kettlewell, the pubs always seemed a bit hit-and-miss to me. I had a couple of bad experiences at Starbotton, found the White Lion at Cray less than good, but had a great evening at The George at Hubberholme. As to The Buck Inn – least said, soonest….! Others I know have it totally the other way round, so perhaps it depends upon the season…or maybe things have changed since I left!!
>I've always found the White Lion excellent, heard a few bad things about the George (though I've never been in to verify) and who we presumed to be the guv'nor of a clearly empty-of-punters Buck Inn was sat on the front step when we walked past … while every other pub we passed was busy!I think Upper Wharfedale and area suffers (if that's the right word) of being within easy reach of the urban West Riding. Loads of visitors, so not that much incentive to do an exemplary job like some of the more remote pubs. Lots of exceptions to the rule though – like the Harts Head at Giggleswick.