As you enter the “big bar” at the Birch Hall Inn you may notice a stopped clock on the wall. It acts both as a metaphor and a defiant statement of fact – time has not touched this magnificent little boozer for as long as anyone can remember.
Beck Hole is just a few hundred yards from Goathland. It consists of little more than half a dozen houses, a quoits pitch and a picturesque bridge over a beck. It’s by this bridge that the pub has perched since the 1600s – at least as far as anyone can tell, its definitive history is not known.
Actually it’s not strictly one pub, it’s two pubs separated by a sweet shop. There’s the cosy, room-for-eight-ish, “big bar”, then the sweet shop and then the “little bar”, which has the feel of a railway station waiting room lined with antique nicknacks and comfortably accommodates about 10 skinny people. It sounds confusing but it all makes perfect sense when you’re sat in a cosy corner with a pint of Beckwatter (the local brew) and one of the delights on the admirably truncated menu.
To order in the big bar you approach the counter made of coins, ring a bicycle bell, the landlady’s head appears and you ask for a pint and either a pork pie with pickle, a Beck Hole butty or a beer cake. Perfection.
The aforementioned landlady, Glenys Charlton, has lived and worked in the pub since 1981 and it’s her dedication we have to thank for keeping this national treasure in such a gloriously unspoilt state. The customers are mainly walkers, adventurous Goathland visitors and people who love superb boozers. If you’re one of the latter you really should make the effort to stop by.
Birch Hall Inn, Beck Hole. 01947 896215. Open daily from 11am to 11pm (May to mid-September); Monday 11am-3pm, Tuesday to Sunday 11am-3pm & 7.30-11pm (mid-September onwards). Note from November to May it is closed on Tuesdays.