To Ravenstonedale for lunch yesterday, a day of glorious sunshine, breezy with a sky of deep blue with white scudding clouds. Our table was booked for half past twelve, so we had time to go the long way round.
Through Wensleydale to The Moorcock Inn, a lonely pub in the heart of the high fells. Turn right and head due North alongside the most scenic part of the Carlisle to Settle railway. The high, sunny fells were dappled with cloud shadow; waterfalls cascaded, catching the bright sunlight; the tiny church at Outhgill was holding a service - there was a long line of cars outside, although the village is very small. Where had they all come from?
At Pendragon Castle we turned West and up on to the high common, snaking on the narrow road between very short green grass. We crested a hill and suddenly, there they were - twenty or so beautiful piebald heavy horses, their manes and tails catching the breeze. They were well fed, had shining coats and were tame enough to come near when we got out of the car, so I was able to take photographs.
Then on again to the main Kirby Stephen to Sedbergh road, a sharp turn South and then quite soon another turn to the West down the little narrow lane to the village of Ravenstonedale.
Doesn't the name conjure up a wild place? The narrow road has stone walls either side and undulates along the side of the fell. To the South are the Howgill Fells, with their green, velvet mounds and the spectacular Cautley Spout waterfall. The village comes into view and we stop for me to take a photograph, then on for our lunch date at The Black Swan.
It is a warm, cosy, welcoming village pub/hotel with good food - what more could you want?
I read that many village pubs are closing mainly due to cheap booze being sold in supermarkets and also people not being able to drive to the pub, have a drink and then drive home.
Well I would guess that this is one village pub not set to close. It has bed and breakfast accommodation for tourists, but more importantly, it caters for the villagers. They have made one part of the pub into the village shop. It sells bread, home made cakes, cheeses, pies - all locally made stuff, as well as tourist souvenirs and things like birthday cards which you might suddenly remember you needed.
Inside the pub the notice advertises Quiz Nights, Ladies'Nights, Music Nights - and at the bottom of the notice it says - if you can think of anything you would like to have on the programme then let them know - with the proviso which says "nothing too stuffy!"
The loos were lovely (sorry but we women set great store by things like this). There was a splendid notice warning that the drainage was Victorian so watch what you put down the loo and then instructions for flushing, saying that the flushes were a bit unpredictable and that three short flushes in quick succession would probably do the trick!
This pub seems to be thriving, and rightly so. The food was delicious (roast pork and apple sauce since you ask), the dining room bright and cheerful, the flowers on each table were fresh and not plastic.
In March 2008 HRH Prince Charles visited as part of his The Pub is the Hub initiative - and they have a plaque to honour the occasion.
On the way back via Sedbergh we passed the exhausted remnants of a Howgill Fell Race, all looking terribly hot, tired and healthy - felt quite guilty after our two hours of lazy Sunday!