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Branch chair Colleen presents the Pub of the Season Winter 2018/9 plaque to the staff at the Wuthering Heights, Stanbury, February 2019

Branch chair Colleen presents the Pub of the Season Winter 2018/9 plaque to Nicci and Darren at the Wuthering Heights, Stanbury, February 2019

New Inn, Appletreewick

In these dark days of PubCo domination, few villages can boast a genuine free house selling quality beers from independent breweries. However, the inhabitants of the picturesque Wharfedale village of Appletreewick (pronounced “Aptrick” locally) are fortunate in having two such pubs, one of which, the New Inn, has been voted Pub of the Season for Autumn 2004 by members of Keighley and Craven CAMRA.

Situated on the main street at the west end of the village, the New Inn is a sturdy, whitewashed, 300 year-old stone building of typical Dales farmhouse design and layout and indeed it was also a working farm until just after the Second World War, as some of the old photographs in the bar testify. Passing through the front door into the hallway, the L-shaped, split-level main bar is on the right and the smaller family room is on the left. Both rooms have superb views across the dale towards Burnsall Fell, as do the outside tables in front of the pub and the small, split-level beer garden across the road.

John Pitchers, owner and licensee since 1986, is a man with three great passions in life: good inn-keeping, good beer-keeping and good mountain biking. All three of these passions become apparent on entering the bar. The warmth of the welcome, the service at the bar and the training of the young, friendly, enthusiastic staff are second to none. The hand-pulled draught ales – John Smith’s Cask, Daleside Bitter and a rotating guest ale, usually also from Daleside, are always in tip-top condition, and a new innovation this summer is the addition of Theakston’s Old Peculier, now once again brewed at Masham and casked in wooden pins. In addition, there is a staggering range of Belgian, German and Czech bottled beers, together with Liefmans Kriek, Westmalle Dubbel and Timmermans Peche, all served in the correct glasses and poured in a professional manner that would put many a continental barman to shame!

Many of the maps and photographs on the walls of the bar reflect John’s passion for mountain biking and some of the old farm buildings at the rear of the inn have been converted to form stabling for bikes instead of horses and cattle. Spare parts for bikes are on sale and advice on local routes is readily available. This, together with the good value bed and breakfast accommodation, makes the pub very popular with both cyclists and walkers, as well as those who just want to get away from the pressures of modern life for a few days.

High quality home-cooked food, including vegetarian options, is served every lunchtime between 12.00 and 2.00 and also on Friday and Saturday evenings during the summer season. (Telephone 01756 720252 to confirm availability). At other times, evening meals are available at the Craven Arms, a quarter of a mile further along the road towards Burnsall.

Twenty-five years ago, under the ownership of John’s predecessor, the late John Showers, the New Inn gained national fame - or perhaps notoriety - as Britain’s first completely non-smoking pub, following the premature death from lung cancer of one of the staff. However, despite being a non-smoker himself, John Pitchers is not in favour of banning smoking, even in only one of the rooms. His ethos for the pub is one of tolerance and total equality for all his customers, locals and visitors alike, regardless of age, race, sex, background or habits, and he has installed a highly efficient ventilation and smoke filtration system which minimises discomfort for non-smokers. Unobtrusive background piped music is sometimes played in the bar and the single gaming machine operates in silent mode to avoid disturbing the relaxed atmosphere. There is a pool table in the corner of the bar, popular with younger visitors at holiday times. An old cast-iron stove ensures a cosy atmosphere in winter.

Among the Belgian brewery posters and village cricket team photos which adorn the bar, you may notice some framed photos and magazine cuttings of the late and much missed Keighley Beer Festival stalwart, Malcolm Ashworth, from his speedway cycling days in the 1950s – a fitting memorial in one of his favourite inns.

The New Inn has deservedly been in every edition of the Good Beer Guide since 1988 and this is its 4th Pub of the Season award. It can be reached by the two-hourly “Pride of the Dales” bus no. 74 from Grassington to Ilkley, which stops at the door (not Sundays). Normal opening hours are:

Monday and Tuesday: 7.00 – 11.00 p.m.;

Wednesday to Friday: 12.00 – 3.00 & 7.00 – 11.00 p.m.;

Saturday: 12.00 – 3.45 & 7.00 – 11.00 p.m.;

Sunday: 12.00 – 3.45 & 7.00 – 10.30 p.m.

Andy Grant

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