During moments of boredom, usually when I’m stuck waiting for another delayed train at a rain-lashed London station, I allow my mind to take me on a pub crawl.
So, I might be getting hammered in Halifax one minute while going on the lash in Leatherhead the next.
It’s great. You should try it.
It takes my thoughts away from the coughing, sneezing and wheezing suit-wearing types impatiently waiting for the delayed 18.02 to Epsom Downs.
On this occasion it wasn’t my mind that took me to the pub, but a green Fiat Punto and my intention was to drink beer at the best boozer Blakey Ridge has to offer – actually, it’s the only boozer Blakey Ridge has to offer – the Lion Inn.
I am not going to beat about the bush here, it’s one of my favouritre watering holes of all time.
And, believe me, I’ve been to a lot of watering holes, including the Ice Bar in Benalmedina on the Costa del Sol which literally is a hole carved out of water.
This charming boozer is surrounded by the beauty, peace and tranquility of the North Yorkshire Moors and this is what lures me back time and time again. It’s where I come to escape the rat race and the wretched rodents who compete in it.
Just look at the map, not an office block or council housing estate in sight. Heaven.
It has everything I look for in a traditional old English boozer – history, low wooden beams, stone walls, good beer, great banter and horse brass – all decent pubs must have horse brass.
On this particular visit I pushed the door open and found myself caught in the middle of a tense stand-off between a growling chihuahua and a snarling spaniel sporting a glittery pink collar.
If I had to wear a pink collar I’d be stroppy too. I’m just not into that type of thing.
With so much natural beauty and space surrounding it, the Lion Inn has no option but to be a dog-friendly pub, even if the dogs aren’t friendly to each other.
Once I’d negotiated my way through this war zone I made it to the well-stocked bar where those sat within earshot regaled each other with tales of walking Lake District fells such as Cat Bells, Striding Edge and the Old Man of Coniston.
I felt like an old man after being stuck behind the wheel of my spluttering motor for five hours. I was so ready for a refreshing pint and spent many a dull mile on the M1 dreaming about it.
Much to the delight of weary walkers and delerious drivers like myself, there was an excellent selection of ales on tap. I parted with a reasonable £3 for the pleasure of spending some quality time with a pint of Golden Pippin (3.9%) by Skipton’s Copper Dragon Brewery. Thwaites Wainwright – a perfect pint for walkers – was also on tap.
First-time visitors to this boozer could be forgiven for thinking it has a touch of the American Werewolf In London about it but rest assured it’s full of ale-craving punters, not blood-thirsty predators.
However, after a full day’s walking out on the Moors some punters looked like zombies, it’s true.
One lady in particular looked dazed and confused as she approached me.
She asked to use the spare chair next to me. As she turned to walk away she rammed the chair into my knee and let out a howl of laughter. Her blood-curdling shriek sent a shivver down my spine while my knee began to throb in agony.
As I hobbled off back to the bar for a refill I tried to reassure myself that I hadn’t entered the Twilight Zone.
The Lion Inn is more than just a place to stop for a well-earned pint.
There is a large dining area where punters can tuck into a nice hot and hearty meal from the extensive menu while perusing pictures of the pub underneath several feet of snow, as often happens during the winter months.
In fact, the Lion Inn often makes it into the national newspapers if its been subjected to a particularly bad dose of heavy snowfall.
There are also some smart bedrooms for those looking for a good night’s kip before heading out across the Moors the next day for further punishment.
Several competitors of the following day’s gruelling Blakey Blitz 17km fell run took advantage of this. I was full of admiration as I watched them head off across the Moors but I almost fell walking back to the car, so I am sure fell running isn’t for me.
The famous English author Samuel Johnson once remarked: ‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life’. Well if, like me, you were borderline depressed with the place then head to this gem of a pub, it’ll sort you out.
THE INNSPECTRE’S SUMMARY…
ADDRESS: THE LION INN, Blakey Ridge, Kirkbymoorside, North Yorkshire, YO62 7LQ. 01751 417320 www.lionblakey.co.uk
ATMOSPHERE: **** A regular turnover of punters of all ages, shapes and sizes made for a lively night.
DECOR: **** The stone walls are a key feature to this pub and give it a rustic feel. There’s a lovely little area close to the entrance in which you can sit and sup while keeping warm by the roaring fire, or if you’d prefer something more intimate then you might like a peaceful pint in the Piano Room. Lots of nice old mirrors and pictures on the walls.
SERVICE: *** Polite, friendly and chatty. All wore uniforms and all were very busy.
PRICE: **** £2.90 for a pint of Black Sheep to £3.20 for Yorkshire Gold. Nothing too pricey, and that’s as refreshing as a pint of Golden Pippin.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS: The Lion Inn regularly suffers heavy snowfalls in winter. It’s my dream to get snowed in there for a week or two. Oh sod it, I’ll just move in. Those familiar with the TV show Heartbeat will know all about the beautiful scenery which surrounds this pub you simply must visit.