The Inn At The Top10 September 2013
I’m off up to Tan Hill in the morning, the inn featured in my new book under the soubriquet of “The Inn at the Top” – I changed the names of every person and place both to protect the innocent, and protect myself from law suits! It’s been 28 years since we sold it and moved on, and in all that time, I’ve only ever been back there twice, partly because I felt that chapter of my life was closed and there was no point in going back, and partly perhaps because it was a bittersweet parting from the place for me and I didn’t want to see someone else failing – or even worse succeeding! – in my place. I’m over that now though and am back up there for a photo-shoot for the Yorkshire Post to go with an article they’re running in the magazine on 21 September, just before the book comes out.
It will be strange to be back up there, though the inn is so transformed from when we ran it that it’s almost unrecognisable as the same place. When we took it over it was, as I say in the book, “a wet, windy rat-infested ruin”. We began the process of improving it and, if it’s still wet and windy, it’s neither rat-infested nor ruinous, and has been further improved and much-extended over the years. It still wouldn’t win any prizes from Interiors magazine, but it’s an unique place and a life-saver – sometimes literally – for walkers plodding up the Pennine Way. I’m not sure if there is still the rich vein of local characters that we knew – I think they “broke the mould” with some of them – but the landlady is certainly doing her personal best to uphold that particular tradition, because she’s a very feisty character!