Back on Top

30 September 2013

After not visiting The Inn at the Top for getting on for 28 years, I’ve now been back there twice in two weeks, this time to drop off some copies of my just-published, eponymous new book. What was most touching about the visit – and I’ve had similar experiences at every promotional event that I’ve done for the new book – was meeting people who’d made a special journey to meet me, purely because of their own treasured memories of the inn. When I arrived there the other day, an old gentleman was waiting for me. He’d been alerted to my book (The Inn at the Top – did I mention that?!) by an article in the Daily Express and when he contacted the inn, the landlady told him that I’d be there on Friday afternoon. He then drove all the way up there from Preston – a round trip of some 150 miles – just to buy a couple of copies of the book: one for himself and one for his best friend, and tell me his tales of the inn.

He’d first gone up there as a boy in 1947, riding his rattletrap bike up the steep, endless-seeming hills to the inn. He’d been back many times since then, but after he got too old to ride his  bike there, he stopped going and, like me just recently, it was his first return visit in many years. He had picked a perfect day to make his pilgrimage up there, for it was one of the handful of days in any year when the sun was shining and the wind wasn’t blowing – not even the slightest breeze – and the views went on for ever, almost to the sea.We chatted for a while – not long enough – but I had to be back in Richmond (the North Yorkshire one) for an event that night and, after a last lingering look at the spectacular landscape that surrounds the inn, he set off to drive home before the light began to fade. It was humbling to meet him, as it has been to meet many people as I’ve travelled around these last few weeks, and it was another reminder that The Inn at the Top isn’t just any old pub; to many people it’s a very special place and they cherish their memories of it – as I do – for the rest of their lives.

If I needed proof that my feelings about the inn are shared by many others, the attendances for the events we’ve done so far would provide it. We’ve had near-capacity audiences for all but one of the events (I know, another toot on the world’s smallest trumpet…) and two of the ones next week are also sold out already, but don’t despair! If you’re within range of Yorkshire, you can still catch us (“us” because my wife and sometime writing partner, Lynn Russell, is doing them with me) at some of the ones below including a couple that are even in pubs – and if you’ve got a good story of your own about the Inn at theTop, I might even buy you a drink!

The Inn at the Top Events

Thursday 3 October, 7.30pm, Herbert’s Bar, 30 Cross Church Street, Huddersfield, HD1 2PT, (Details: Waterstones 01484 430701 / Herberts 01484 434888)

Tuesday 8 October, 7.30pm, Morley Literature Festival, Gildersome Conservative Club, Street Lane, Gildersome, Morley, Leeds, LS27 7HX, SOLD OUT

Wednesday 9 October, 12 noon-2pm, Waterstone’s, 102 High Street, Northallerton, DL7 8PP (Details: 0843 2908515)

Wednesday 9 October, 7.30pm, Betty’s Cafe Tea Rooms, Ilkley. SOLD OUT

Thursday 10 October, 7.30pm, Betty’s Cafe Tea Rooms, Ilkley, including two course supper and tea or coffee”. (Tickets £29.95  from Betty’s Cafe Tea Rooms, Ilkley,  01943 608029)

Saturday 12 October, 11am-2pm, Waterstones, 98 Westborough, Scarborough, YO11 1UQ, (Details: 01723 500414)

Saturday 19 October, 10.30am, Ryedale Book Festival, The Milton Rooms Studio, Market Square, Malton, YO17 7LX  (Tickets/details:

Thursday 14 November, 7pm, The Flying Duck, 16 Church Street, Ilkley LS29 9DS, (Tickets/details: 01943 609335)