Dalehouse is a pretty, tiny hamlet on the edge of the North York Moors with Staithes as its neighbour.
Is it in Yorkshire or Teesside? For the sake of a few hundred yards, let’s say Yorkshire, since it would be a shame to miss this cracking old pub, nestled as it is in the cleft of the valley next to an ancient stone bridge over the river.
Inside, you won’t find artfully-placed vintage items, or a whiff of Farrow & Ball – it’s a proper, old-style, unspoiled boozer complete with swirly carpets, blackened beams and woodchip on the walls. There’s a big lounge at the back with a wood stove surrounded by squishy pink velour sofas, and a cosy dining room full of chunky oak furniture to the side.
A magnificent red brick fireplace belts out cheer in the bar, best enjoyed sitting on the well-loved velvet banquettes that lines the room. There’s much to indicate that this is hunting country; prints, bugles, fox’s heads and tails and wall lights with hunting scene shades. Even the curtains depict riders jumping over impossible hedges. It’s no surprise then that the no-nonsense menu features the likes of gamekeeper’s casserole (£8.95) and venison in red wine, but of course the proximity to the North Sea means there’s Whitby scampi and fish pie (£7.50). Particularly welcome on a nithering January night is the beef in Guinness with baked suet top, a snip at £8.20. Beer on tap includes Wells Bombadier and Adnams.
All this and garrulous locals playing dominoes, discussing the relative charms of Brigitte Bardot over Anne Widdecombe. Priceless. The Fox is the Whitby Gazette Pub of the Year for 2013. It’s easy to see why.
Fox & Hounds, 4 Dalehouse, Saltburn by the Sea, TS13 5DT. 01947 840534. Open 11.30am–11.30pm every day, food served in the evenings 5.30-7.30pm, no lunches.