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Two LocAle pubs with a community focus - Spring 2013

In this article we are highlighting two community-orientated real ale outlets. One is a pretty white-washed stone pub in a lovely village in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the other a popular community public house situated in a well-known village in the Aire valley.

The Queens Arms, Litton

Litton is a long-established village of less than 100 souls nestled in the glacial valley of Littondale. The river Skirfare meanders through it and there‘s a small collection of houses scattered there. Situated in the midst of popular walking country, Buckden Pike and Pen-y-Ghent are just a few miles wander over the fells.

At the heart of the village of Litton is a two-roomed 17th century pub, the Queens Arms. Upon entering, on the right, there is a stone-flagged room with a beamed ceiling, where you‘ll be greeted by a warming open fire and three hand-pumps on the bar. The LocAle beer on offer is Goose Eye Chinook at 4.2%, with Thwaites Original at 3.6% and a rotating guest beer also available. The Littondale Bar to the left has a relaxed feel with a welcoming, wood-burning stove and is a comfortable place to enjoy your beer. It is used occasionally for private dining, events and meetings.

Local residents now own the pub and Emily Cowan, the pub manager and the rest of the pub staff are also all locals, so you‘ll be greeted with sound local knowledge as well as with a smile and attentive service. The Queens had seen a steady decline over the last few years, but the new owners have made continuing improvements since taking it on last year and it is returning as the heart of the community. There are darts and dominos, fortnightly quizzes and special event evenings, such as wine tasting and pie nights, to entice customers along. Shooting parties also regularly support the pub after their days out in the dales.

Good home-cooked food is available Tuesday to Sunday and accommodation comes in the form of four en-suite rooms. The beer garden is a pleasant place to sit during the summer months with the spectacular scenery of the area adding to the experience.

There is a small brewing kit on-site, which is currently out of service. It is intended to revive it as the Amerdale Brewery in the near future. Why not take a trip out to Littondale and a visit to the Queens Arms for a pleasant time in a lovely old pub with good service, good beer and nice company.

There is no direct regular bus service to Litton but visit Yorkshire Dalesbus for bus routes to the Upper Wharfedale area.

Queens Arms, Litton, Skipton, North Yorkshire BD23 5QJ. Tel: 01756 770096. Closed Mondays (except Bank Holidays). Food: Tue/Wed/Thu 12-2 and 6-8, Fri 12-2 and 6-8.30, Sat 12-2.30 and 6-8.30, Sun 12-4.

The Old White Bear, Cross Hills

Leaving the Yorkshire Dales we head south to the Aire valley and about halfway between Skipton and Keighley is Cross Hills. As its name implies, it is a community surrounded by the rolling hills of the Pennines. Situated on the south bank of the River Aire the village is overlooked by the Pinnacles, two small towers that local farmers built to commemorate the loss of sons during the Napoleonic and First World Wars.

Situated on the A6068 is the oldest building in Cross Hills, the Old White Bear. Built in 1735, the rambling white-washed building has seen many uses over the years including being a brothel! Some of the beams used in its construction reputedly came from a naval ship called the Old White Bear that took part in the battles against the Spanish Armada and seemingly that‘s where the pub‘s name comes from.

The bar area spans the two main rooms and there‘s a small tap room where sports can be watched and ring the bull played. There‘s also a separate restaurant area. The LocAle beers on offer are from Naylor‘s Pinnacle Brewery (initially situated in the Old White Bear but now at larger premises a short distance away). The beers are Craven Brau 3.8%, Pinnacle Bitter 3.9%, Pinnacle Blonde 4.3%, Northern Gold 5.0% and Velvet Mild 4%. Specials are regularly available.

Neil Pickles owns the pub and has a solid team that offers a friendly service. The local community enthusiastically supports the Old White Bear. There are darts and domino teams, quizzes are popular and there are regular themed food evenings. Home-cooked food is available daily 12 - 2.30 and 5.00 - 9.00 and is usually locally sourced. There‘s a small beer garden for enjoying the summer months and welcoming open fires during the winter months. A previous Keighley & Craven CAMRA Pub of the Year winner, the Old White Bear is a true locals‘ pub where you‘ll always be warmly greeted.

There are regular bus services to Cross Hills from Keighley, Colne & Skipton. For information visit Transdev Keighley and District.

Old White Bear, 6 Keighley Road, Cross Hills, Skipton BD20 7RN. Tel: 01535 632115. Open 11-11 daily.

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