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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 Elm Tree, Embsay

Presentation 8.30pm, Tuesday 18th September.

Front view of the Elm Tree including mounting steps to the right.It's not the first time 'the Tree' has won Pub of the Season, and hopefully it'll not be the last, so it's difficult to come up with something new to say. The building has changed little over the years which is a definite plus. Inside, it hasn't been ripped out, modernized, pasteurised, or plasticized; it's not original but the 'horse brass and oak' of the new traditional English pub. What has changed? Well, it's now all no smoking of course (personally I think this a definite improvement to the Elm Tree - it's nice to see more people out enjoying the fresh(?) air) and mine hosts have changed. As I write this article they are just coming up to their first anniversary as licensees.

There is always a sense of dread when the management changes but so far (many bits of anatomy crossed), the village has been very lucky and Good Beer Guide quality beer and a friendly village atmosphere have been maintained. When Karen and Mark took over, the twinges went round, particularly, when we found out this was their first pub. But our fears were unfounded, hence this award before they have even been in a year.

Front view of the Elm Tree (including the new tree)Karen has lived in the village most of her life. Having done some bar work, she knew that if ever she ran a pub it would have to be the Elm Tree. So when she and partner Mark, who were market traders at the time, heard the previous incumbents were looking to leave, they decided to change the cold and wet of the market stall for the comforts of a village pub. The year has been a steep learning curve and they still have more to learn. One mistake that many new village publicans make is to alienate the locals in favour of visitors who spend more in summer but, as they find to their cost, the visitors are not there all year. Mark and Karen have not made that mistake and have got involved in the community, sponsoring the Christmas tree and the flowers in Elm Tree Square (which is round!). They also stepped in when the village Christmas party looked doomed. The event went ahead in the pub car park and a good time was had by all who attended.

The pub may not have changed but that doesn't mean that everything is static. Like any new landlords, they need to find what brings in the brass and have experimented a little. They have introduced two new ciders, Stowford Press and a hand pump dispensing Weston ciders at the moment. In the future, who knows? Also partial to the odd dram, Mark is trying different whiskies. There’s limited space but about twenty five different ones are on the go at any one time, to be poured over and the merits of 'with or without water' discussed with enthusiastic locals. A new dart board has appeared, so a darts team may be in the offing in the future, and the pub is now involved in the local dominoes league (as long as they don't shuffle too vigorously or 'knock' too loudly during the quiz night).

There are not many places with a view like this from the beer garden.Beer, that's what CAMRA's about. The Tree has five hand pumps. The range tends to be 'conservative' but again with some experimenting. One can never say 'such and such' is 'always on' as any could change. Regulars include Goose Eye’s No-Eye Deer, brewed originally as a house beer for the Tree, Charles Wells’ Bombardier, Moorhouses’ Black Cat (more likely to appear at cooler times of the year but still regular) and Copper Dragon beers are also popular. However, any of these may take a break to be replaced by a guest, mundane or obscure - it depends what's available.

One can't talk about what goes on in the Elm Tree without mentioning the quiz. It has been a Monday night feature through many tenancies. Currently run by "Bill the Hat", the rules and the prizes are the same: none. There is also the food: the Tree has always been a popular place with diners and Karen and Mark are looking to build on that with the kitchen being 'sorted' and a new chef and menu due any time. It might not be silver service and dainty plates, but it will be enthusiastic.


5 Elm Tree Square, Embsay, Skipton. Tel: 01756 790717

Open 11.30-3, 5.30-11 Mon-Sat; 12-3, 5.30-11 Sun. Summer weekends open 12-11 (recommend ringing to check if arriving after 3). Buses from Skipton run by Pennine Mon-Sat approximately hourly until 17:40. Embsay is also on the summer Sunday and Bank Holiday “Cravenlink” service route 784 & 884 provided by Jacksons of Silsden.

Ian Berry.

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