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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

The White Lion, Cray

Pubs Of The Seasons come in many different guises. The last two were bustling community pubs, very popular with CAMRA members and beer enthusiasts but also well-supported by a regular local clientele. Our next Pub Of The Season is very different. It has no community support as such, being situated in a hamlet consisting of only itself and one farm and, although we local CAMRA members love to visit it, we don’t get there as much as we would like to.

Situated at the very top of Wharfedale, the White Lion at Cray has always been one of our favourites. When it went up for sale towards the end of 2000, we prayed it would pass into good hands. We need not have worried. In June 2001, Kevin and Debbie Roe, looking for a change in lifestyle, took over from Frank and Barbara Hardy, who had run the pub for about 10 years. It was not a good time to buy a pub in the Dales. Foot and mouth disease had hit North Yorkshire the month before and all the footpaths were closed so there were very few tourists. To make matters worse, during Kevin and Debbie’s first fortnight, the road over the top to Aysgarth was also closed for several days. The lowest point was when the pub took only £6.80 in a whole day.

However, that was all a long time ago. As the foot and mouth restrictions were lifted, Kevin and Debbie’s patience and commitment to keeping the pub pretty much as it had been paid off. The White Lion is again a thriving little place, always warm and friendly with a choice of well-kept cask beers and a roaring fire. Some structural changes have been made on the way but these have all been for the good. A couple of years ago a new kitchen was built, last year the cellar was refurbished and earlier this year the bar was moved back a few feet into what had been the old kitchen. This has made the pub seem quite a bit larger without destroying the ambience, maybe because the extra floor area is flagged with stones recovered from elsewhere in the building.

The new bar has the added advantage that there is now enough space for an extra handpump.

Three regular beers are available: Copper Dragon Scott’s 1816 & Golden Pippin, and Taylor’s Golden Best. The other 2 pumps are used for guest beers which come from a variety of sources: Taylors, Moorhouses, Wensleydale and others. Food is served lunch-time and evening and Bed and Breakfast is available. The bedrooms have all been upgraded over recent years and special 2 for 1, 3 for 2 and similar deals are available. The whole pub is now no-smoking.

There are several good walks which take you to the White Lion. One of our personal favourites is the path up from Stubbing Bridge near Hubberholme. During summer a couple of buses pass the pub on a Sunday, but the rest of the week the nearest bus service is at Buckden. If driving or cycling the pub is on the Buckden to Aysgarth road just over a mile from Buckden.

For more information about the pub see the advert elsewhere in this magazine or visit the pub’s web-site.

Richard & Tamsin Candeland

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