Dennis Peacock and Amelia Johnson ran Masons in York and lived the good life in their favourite city. One day Dennis drove past an empty, desolate Dales pub and bought it. Then told Amelia. It’s perhaps best to draw a veil over the ensuing conversation, but they’re still together 12 months on.
And they’ve made a terrific job of it. A former drover’s inn, the fabulous flagged floor, dark beams and monumental stone fireplace remain. Walls are smoothly painted plaster and there are fresh flowers on the oak tables.
It’s a good 10 years since I last visited, but on that occasion I recall being grunted at by the landlord. Now there’s a genuine welcome from Dennis, Amelia and Sandra, ex-Provenance Inns, who “does the books”. Behind the high bar, nicely-kept Wharfedale Blonde, Hetton Pale Ale and Black Sheep, plus a selection of Yorkshire gins. There’s an interesting wine list with over half a dozen by the glass and bottles from £15.
On the menu, pub grub and then some. Parfait: chicken liver, croutes, onion marmalade £6. Smoked: duo of smoked duck & chicken breast, orange and black cherry salad, berry dressing £7. Mains-wise, the likes of game pie (£14) Jacksons of Cracoe sausages (£13) and wild mushroom risotto (£12). I go for the “Ultimate Open Sandwich” – beef and stilton on a toasted brioche. There are nine simply furnished but stunning bedrooms, all with views over Upper Wharfedale.
• The White Lion Inn, Cray, Skipton, BD23 5JB. 01756 760262, bestpubinthedales.co.uk. Open daily, bar 12-10.30pm; food 12-2.30pm; dinner 6-8.30pm.
Drinks Selection 5/5