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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

This Season there were two pubs of the season, following a tie in the voting.

Pub of the Season Summer 2007:  The Helwith Bridge

I am delighted to report that my favourite pub in the Keighley & Craven CAMRA branch area has won its third Pub Of The Season award.

So why do I (along with a few other CAMRA members) like this pub so much when (for me) it takes a train trip from Keighley to Horton in Ribblesdale followed by a 2+ mile walk along the river to get there?

Firstly, there’s the beers of course, 8 of them in total: Caledonian 80 bob, Bombardier, Theakston Best bitter, John Smith Cask, Old Speckled Hen along with 3 guests: Three Peaks Pen-y-ghent, Wards Best Bitter and Mann’s St. Georges’ Celebration at the time of my last visit - strictly no smooth beers!

Secondly, it is a traditional unspoilt, unpretentious community PUB, set in a beautiful remote location close to Pen-y-ghent and the Settle to Carlisle line in Ribblesdale, which is a mecca for walkers, cavers and climbers.  What better way to finish a day out (on, above or below ground) than by enjoying a pint or two here?  If you need overnight shelter, there is a field available for camping and also a bunkhouse which you can use if you spend your brass at the pub.

Thirdly, I find it a very friendly and hospitable place.  In my experience, you feel like one of the locals when you come here.  Licensee Colin Hall and his staff do a fine job providing cheerful and pleasant hospitality, along with a good sense of fun.  The beer menu is fixed to the bar room ceiling which is useful for reading when you have that one too many and end up on yer back!  There are also 3 clocks, one goes backwards, another is an analogue 24hr clock (VERY confusing after a few!) and the other makes a different (feathered) bird noise every hour!  Look out for Jollity Farm!  The website is also quite amusing and worth a visit: www.helwithbridge.com.

Bearing in mind that going on for 56 pubs are closing in Britain every MONTH, it is heartening news that we have this gem of a Dales pub alive and kicking.

Finally, this brings me to an appropriate piece written by Hilaire Belloc, which can be found on the wall by the bar:

"When you have lost your inns drown your empty selves, for you will have lost the last of England".

Quite!

BM

Keighley & Worth Valley Railway Buffet Car

For the third time the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway buffet car has won a pub of the season award for the quality of its real ales.  The original buffet car has been taken out of service, for about 12 months, for a refit and slight design alterations.  The current buffet car was previously a standard carriage, with seating throughout, providing the restaurant area for a pub in Scholes.  It has now been fully refurbished, as a dining car, to a specific design which includes a kitchen area and separate food hatch, offering bacon and sausage sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers, cheese on toast, eggs and hot drinks.  This new facility has proved to be extremely popular.

Up to three beers are available on hand pump, usually local brews from either micro breweries or Timothy Taylor.  Beers from breweries further away often tend to represent a ‘railway theme’.  The beer is placed on the train in insulated containers after being racked in an air conditioned unit in the beer store at Oxenhope.  Special mention needs to go to John Feather, the volunteer cellarman who ensures that the beer is always in tip top condition.

There has been some discussion within the railway society recently concerning possible sponsorship of the buffet bar by a local brewery and possibly naming the bar along the lines of a railway related theme.  Any suggestions will be well received.  The railway is always on the look out for new volunteers so if you fancy running the bar for a few days then contact Haworth station on 01535 645214.

Special events on the railway include the highly successful Beer & Music Weekend when the engine shed at Oxenhope is transformed, providing a superb venue along with the bars on the trains.  This year’s event, offering 70 beers, takes place on 26/27/28 October and there have been discussions on the possibility of holding a concert on the weekend before or after to take advantage of the arrangements in place in the shed.  Other events include Diesel and Steam Gala Weekends, Santa Specials, White Rose Dining Trains and Vintage Train Days.  The buffet bar is available at all these events, as it is every day that the trains run.

Ray Halmshaw.

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