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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

Presentation of Pub of the Season to Steve and Joanne at The Falcon, ArncliffeIconic Traditional Dales Pub wins Pub of the Season

The Falcon at Arncliffe in Littondale has always been one of my favourite pubs in the Dales, my first visit being around 1978, when, if I remember correctly, I was served Younger’s Scotch Bitter from a jug. Unaltered since the 1950s, the pub was owned and run for decades by the same family, with Robin being the last Miller at the helm. A few years ago, it was time for Robin to retire, but rather than sell the pub, he decided to keep it and install someone else to run it. Things did not quite work out with the first managers, who left after about a year. Then local couple Steven Hodgson and his wife Joanne took over.

A very happy Joanne toasts the award.Now in their third year, Steven and Joanne have maintained the traditional feel the pub has always had, but they have introduced a number of small changes, that anyone unfamiliar with the place would never realise were new. The jug is still there and is still in use, serving Timothy Taylor Best Bitter (aka Boltmaker) direct from casks racked behind the bar. Innovation number one is a pair of hand-pumps, one of which offers an alternative means of having your Taylors poured, the other of which (Shock! Horror!) serves a second beer. This varies, but is often Dark Horse Hetton Pale Ale or Craven Bitter from a few miles down the road.

View of The Falcon, Arncliffe from the village green, January 2017The second innovation is a wider range of lunchtime food, although simple and wholesome is still the name of the game. My regular is pie and peas with a side portion of chips, after which it is difficult getting over the hill back to Kettlewell to the nearest bus stop. Salads and other unfussy fare are also available. A further innovation is that you can now pay for your food on a contactless card. I’m sure Robin would have had none of that! Evening meals are normally only available to residents, but non-residents are welcome if they book 24 hours in advance.

The unaltered internal layout has earned the Falcon a place on CAMRA’s Regional (Yorkshire) list of pubs with historic interiors. On entering the ivy-clad building, you follow the corridor to the two small drinking rooms at the back, which are served direct from the tiny bar. Off the corridor to the right and left are two larger rooms, a lounge and a dining room, which until recently were reserved for guests staying in the six letting bedrooms. (Opening the rooms up for non-guests is another of Steve and Joanne’s innovations.)

Side view of The Falcon, Arncliffe, January 2017Despite its remoteness, the Falcon is well-used, probably because the beer is well-kept and a warm and friendly welcome is always assured. Keighley and Craven CAMRA were pleased to present our Winter 2016/2017 Pub of the Season award to Steve and Joanne on a Sunday afternoon at the end of January. Twenty members of CAMRA turned out to congratulate them, as seemingly did the whole Dale.

If you have never visited the Falcon before, add a trip to your list of things to do this year. If you are familiar with the pub, then you will already know what a great place it is.

The Falcon is open 12-3, 7-11 Monday to Thursday and all day at weekends in summer. In winter it keeps the same hours but does not open Tuesday or Thursday evening. Food is served 12-2.30.

Contact: The Falcon Inn, Arncliffe, Skipton BD23 5QE Telephone: (01756) 770205. Website: http://www.thefalconinnskipton.co.uk/. Facebook: thefalconinn2014. WhatPub: http://www.whatpub.com/pubs/SKI/ARNC-1-FALC/

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