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Colleen Holiday presents the Pub of the Year 2016 plaque to Russell and Rosie East outside the Talbot Arms, Settle, May 2016Branch chair Colleen Holiday presents Russell and Rosie East with Pub of the Year Summer 2016 at the Talbot Arms, Settle, May 2016

Thriving Community Pub takes Pub of the Season

Nearly four years after it re-opened in the capable hands of manager Sean Cassidy, the Willow Tree at the top of Riddlesden village has been voted Keighley and Craven Pub of the Season for Summer 2016. Extensively refurbished during January 2016, and now run by Sean with assistant manager, Rebecca Whitely, “the Willow” offers something for everyone. The key attraction to real ale drinkers is, of course, the range of superbly kept cask beers, which are sourced via local brewery, Bridgehouse. Three Bridgehouse beers are normally available (Bridgehouse Blonde is a permanent fixture, and Aired Ale and Holy Cow feature regularly) alongside one or two guests from further afield. If you visit on a Wednesday, these are available at only £2.50 per pint as part of the Cask Ale Club. For customers with a need to fill their bellies with something more solid, food is available between 12 and 3 and 5 to 8 daily.

There is always lots going on at the Willow Tree. Monday is when the local pool team plays. For the rest of the week, the pool table is free of charge, so if you hope to join them, there is plenty of time to practice. Tuesday is quiz night, when a free supper is available to participants - some of us managed to nibble a bit when we held a recent Tuesday CAMRA meeting there and it was very tasty. Food themed nights are expected to start soon, with Monday being Steak Night and Thursday being Curry Night. Friday evening offers a free jukebox and there are live music nights on some Saturdays - check the pub‘s FaceBook page for dates and times.

The pub was tastefully refurbished in January 2016 by Julie Kelly and Marie Townsend, who own the lease. The right-hand room, decorated with old sporting photographs, has more of a games room feel and is where you will find the pool table, juke box and sports TV. To the left is the lounge, and this is where to head if you want to sit down. It is warmed in winter by a multi-fuel stove and features old photos of the pub, one dating back nearly a century to a time before the pub gained its current external appearance. Pub historians should also note the old House of Hey windows in the porch and the tiny round Hey‘s Victory Ale to the left of the door as you enter the pub. For pleasant summer weather, there is a small outdoor drinking area on the downhill side of the building, alongside a separate smoking area. An upstairs room is available for meetings.

Although a little off the beaten track, the Willow Tree is well worth a visit. It has an excellent community spirit and is one of the few pubs in the Keighley and Craven CAMRA area to have been designated an Asset of Community Value.

The Pub of the Season award will be presented to the Willow Tree on Wednesday 21st September 2016 at approximately 8.30 p.m.

Richard and Tamsin Candeland

Contact: The Willow Tree, Ilkley Road, Riddlesden. BD20 5PN Telephone: 07533 651464. Facebook: The-Willow-Tree-Inn-Riddlesden. WhatPub: http://www.whatpub.com/pubs/SKI/RIDD-1-WILL/

Transport: TLC run a day-time bus (708) up the hill, otherwise it‘s a fifteen-minute walk up Granby Lane and Banks Lane from the bus stop by East Riddlesden Hall (Keighley Bus Company route 662), or if you know where you are going, a ten-minute walk up the steps from the Bar Lane stop.

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