Just when you thought there were no secret pubs left to find in the North York Moors – no tiny, one-room farmhouse establishments that have been in the landlord’s family for three generations – you find the Mill Inn.
This Harwood Dale pub has belonged to the McGregor family since 1931. Landlord Hamish took it on from his mother in 1995, she had been in charge since 1970 after taking the reigns from his grandmother.
Hamish made the bar out of a few planks but little else has changed for decades. The whole place is a thing of beauty.
On a practical level, some people won’t find the Mill Inn appealing, there are few drink choices (one ale, one lager, one cider) and food is limited to peanuts and locally made sandwiches (if Hamish remembers to pick them up). This, though, is not a pub you visit for the beer or food, it’s a pub you visit because you want to experience life unchanged hardly a jot since the movies were silent.
Unsurprisingly, Hamish runs the Mill pretty much as a hobby. He has a full-time job elsewhere but this heroic soul still makes a point of opening every night and all day at the weekend between Easter and the end of September. His actual opening times are wonderfully vague - “about 7pm-ish till whenever I shut shop” – and the pub has no phone or website. You’ll just have to trust me that a diversion off the Scarborough to Whitby road to experience this most wonderful place is essential for anyone with the slightest interest in seeing what a real public house (ie a house that opens it’s doors to the public) used to be like.
I recommend visiting on a sunny weekend afternoon as the lovely front garden offers charming views, whether you’re facing the dale or just staring back at the pub in wonder.
The Mill Inn, Harwood Dale, Scarborough YO13 0LA.