Tonight was the night for listening to The Archers on Radio 4 to hear the outcome of the long-running abuse of Helen by Rob, her controlling husband. it’s come a long way since the days when a broken-down combine harvester would have had the audience spellbound for days. Not sure what the agricultural advisor does these days – it’s more like an episode of East Enders meets The Sopranos. Still good though.
In Yorkshire there’s a gentler sort of soap on TV – Emmerdale [formerly Emmerdale Farm until 1989] where a few minor things happen but generally life is straightforward and reflects the life of a Dales village. Nowadays it’s filmed in a special, purpose-built set in the grounds of Harewood [pronounced Harwood] House, between Leeds and Harrogate. However, the original location filming used the village of Arncliffe in Wharfedale – well, Littondale just off Wharfedale. The village has a beautiful village green and, most importantly, a good pub. All along Wharfedale and Littondale are very good pubs and, surprising in these days when pubs are closing faster than you can count – they all seem to survive somehow, with the one at Cray just reopening. There’s a good local bus service to ferry people from Skipton Station out to all the village pubs and back again at closing time and they all seem to be endlessly inventive with things to do in those long, cold Yorkshire nights [apart from the obvious]. The Falcon has a Scalextric night every second Tuesday – that beats bar billiards [whatever they are]. The Falcon of course was “The Woolpack” in Emmerdale, scene of many a domestic argument, though not on The Archers scale.
A wonderful find, the pub is largely unaltered by its fame, with stone floors, outside loos, smart parlour and small bar, where the landlord dispenses Timothy Taylor’s Boltmaker [voted Britain’s best beer].
Ale – Timothy Taylors Boltmaker (formally Best Bitter) is still served in the time-honoured fashion: from cask to glass via a jug to this day, a guest ale is available on hand pump.
They have some letting rooms and serve meals only by advance notice to non-residents [3 courses £18!]. Good tasty, generous bar snacks and sandwiches – melt-in-the-mouth Aga-cooked ham panini anyone?
Probably the best surviving real inn in the North… I am loath to recommend the Falcon – but only because it is a closely guarded secret!
There are other very good pubs too – coming shortly, but why not start with the Falcon – even if only to watch the beer being carefully dispensed to the faithful.