MALHAM, BD23 4DB
For location alone, this handsome old coaching inn takes some beating, sitting as it does in some of Britain's most impressive cavern-riddled limestone scenery. A dense covering of creepers masks its stone walls, and the old mounting block from coaching days is still in situ. Beyond the attractive tiled entrance are small rooms with original beams, fireplaces, wooden floors and log-burning stoves. One of Thwaites Inns of Character pubs, it's right on the village green, which presents much easier terrain for the fell-walkers, cavers and other outdoor types who drop in here for morning coffee or a pint. If the latter, it could be a glass of Wainwright bitter, named after the fell-walking guide and writer/illustrator Alfred Wainwright, who also hailed from Blackburn; seasonal Dark Horse ales are further options. Traditional home-cooked meals originating from trusted local suppliers might begin with smoked haddock and crab cakes with citrus salad and chilli mayonnaise; or beetroot carpaccio, Yorkshire Blue bon bons. From there the choice broadens to salads, sharing boards, and Lister classics. These comprise firm favourites such as honey-glazed home-cooked ham with free-range fried egg and hand-cut chips; confit pork belly with bubble-and-squeak, sautéed spinach, crispy bacon and cider jus; or local pork sausages with creamy mash, onion gravy and crispy onions. Desserts are home made too, including caramelised bread and butter pudding infused with Yorkshire gin and served with mint custard; and chocolate and hazelnut brownie served warm with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. Feel free to arrive in muddy boots with a well-behaved dog - nobody will object.