The Yorke Arms, Nidderdale, North Yorkshire

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As you go further south, the Yorkshire Dales relax a bit. From Swaledale in the north [rugged and broody] down towards conurbations of West Yorkshire, each dale seems to soften, become more rolling – yet still spectacular. Nidderdale is about the middle, both in geography and character. The end of the rainbow is the Yorke Arms, set in spectacular countryside in the hamlet of Ramsgill, in the small Nidderdale valley.

Led by chef Francis Atkins, this Michelin-starred restaurant with rooms has seen us enjoy many special weekends. Go for a tramp across to Middlesmoor and back, or up around Scar Dam for a longer [9 miles – ouch!] traverse of the moor top coming back through Middlesmoor hoping the pub is open for a sandwich [it never is], and then back to the Yorke Arms to enjoy the most wonderful food. Middlesmoor is a bit Tuscan [I know, I know…that’s supposed to be Doncaster] as it’s set on top of the hill, instead of nestling against the dale bottom sheltering from the sun [wind]. There’s a beautiful house at the southern edge of the village, facing south down the valley with a walled garden you just can’t quite see into. If it’s ever for sale…

We were going to comment on the food, wines, beer, afternoon tea, rooms…but they’re all just perfect. We love the style and frivolity of some starred restaurants  – and yes, there’s a tasting menu here with style and flourish – but the food is about taste first and foremost.  More in character with Gordon Ramsay’s Royal Hospital Road than L’enclume [and that’s a very good thing] it never disapoints on any front.

If you want to save a place for a special evening/weekend/midweek of indulgence, then this is it – accept no substitutes.

Restaurant with rooms The Yorke Arms

Francis Atkins at work

Francis Atkins at work

Scar House Reservoir was a major engineering achievement in the early 20th century, with a whole community living and working to build it – housing, 600 seat cinema, school, post office – you can see some history at Scar House Reservoir

We’d love to try the Crown Hotel Middlesmoor, but it’s always been closed [lunchtimes, we have to admit]…but we’ll keep trying!

 

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