Tan Hill

22 September 2013

The prodigal son’s return to The Inn at the Top, aka Tan Hill, was great. Even though I spent three years of my life up there in the late Seventies and Eighties (the decades, not my age…) I had almost forgotten quite how remote the inn is, especially if you approach from the east, via Arkengarthdale. The road – only just about wide enough for two cars to pass, with not a single street light, white line or cat’s eye to help motorists after dark – seems to go on twisting, turning and rising – never falling – for ever, with one false summit after another, so that by the time you finally get to the inn, you’re certainly ready for a drink.

The surroundings are unchanged of course, a great ocean of wild moorland stretching away unbroken to the horizon under a vast cloudscape. And if the inn itself is much-changed, extended and improved from the “Wild West” days when we ran it, the bar is virtually unaltered with the seats either side of the inglenook fireplace still the most coveted and keenly contested by customers who’ve braved the often wild wind and weather to get there. The landlady, Tracy Daly, is a great character with a no nonsense approach and a mischievous sense of humour – just what the inn needs, in fact, because people who make it up there expect their visit to be an event, and I suspect they rarely leave disappointed.

If you fancy running it yourself and have a cool £1.3 million or so to spare, Tracy might be willing to sell it to you, she and her partner Mike also have a B&B business in Somerset they’re keen to put more time into, but it takes a special kind of person to survive and thrive up there. You may make your mark on the inn, but it’ll certainly also leave a mark on you.

If you’re within range of Yorkshire over the next few weeks, you may catch me at one of the events to promote my book The Inn at the Top – commercial alert! – published this week by Michael O’Mara Books at £8.99. With my wife and sometime writing partner Lynn, we’ll be talking about The Inn at the Top in York, Richmond, Knaresborough, Huddersfield, Morley, Northallerton, Ilkley, Scarborough, Malton, and Ilkley again, with a couple of events still tobe confirmed

The Inn at the Top Events:

Thursday 26 September, 6.45pm, Waterstone’s York, (Tickets/details: 01904 628740 www.waterstones.com )

Friday 27 September, 7.30pm, Richmond Walking and Book Festival at Richmond School Sixth Form Centre, Darlington Road, Richmond, N Yorks, DL10 7BQ (Tickets/details: www.booksandboots.org 01748 824243)

Saturday 28 September, 12noon-2pm, Castlegate Books, 13 Market Place, Knaresborough, HG5 8AL, book signing, (Details: info@castlegatebooks.com  01423 862222)

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, Includes “Pie and pea supper” (Tickets/details: Morley Library or Lesley Gettings on 0113 253 9763)

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, (Ilkley Literature Festival event). Includes “Delicious two course supper followed by tea and coffee”. (Tickets/details: Betty’s Cafe Tea Rooms, Ilkley,  01943 608029)

Saturday 12 October, 11am-2pm, Waterstones, 98 Westborough, Scarborough, YO11 1UQ, (Details: 01723 500414 enquiries@scarborough.waterstones.com)

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

Thursday 14 November, 7pm, Grove Bookshop, 10 The Grove, Ilkley, LS29 9EG, (Tickets/details: 01943 609335)