Green Dragon Inn, Hardraw: Owner of Yorkshire Dales pub featured in Channel 5 series All Creatures Great and Small to retire after 22 years and sell inn and Hardraw Force waterfall to new owners
The pub reputedly dates back to the 13th century and along with its heritage and links with famous TV appearances including 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner and the more recent TV adaptation of All Creatures Great and Small, it has since had a continuous rise in popularity.
Green Dragon has not only been a popular venue to enjoy a nice lunch and drink with the backdrop of the waterfall, it has also been a Yorkshire Dales attraction for its rich history and unique period features that owner, D Mark Thompson, 66, has been working to maintain since he first bought it in 2001.
Mr Thompson, along with his partner, transformed the pub from a neglected state to the flourishing business it has become over the years.
He has exclusively told The Yorkshire Post that, after 22 years, he is now retiring from the business and selling the pub and the Hardraw Force waterfall situated behind it.
“I’m on the verge of retiring. I’ve had a local businessman who has made me an offer to buy the pub and waterfall.
“It’s coming close to a conclusion. It will soon be in new hands,” he said.
“I’ve had some negotiations with three local businessmen and we are very close to concluding a sale with one. We will be signing papers the Friday after next (July 14). He’s a well known chap and he’s also got a neighbouring hotel.
“I’m sad to be leaving because it’s been a great part of my life. [My partner and I] bought it in a very bad state because of the foot and mouth outbreak; there was no income, no trade, no customers and I spent two years physically restoring it and my partner had done all of the cooking of the tremendous amount of food, accommodation, we had music festivals, an outdoor brass band right up until Covid and reintroduced that in 2022.
“Then my partner’s health got in the way last year.
“We’re leaving because of our age, not because we want to; we love the village, the people and the old inn has quite a special place in our hearts.
“My partner’s 72 and I’m 66, you need a lot of energy to run this site because it is a big site so we are having to pass it on to some younger people. We can’t keep it forever.
“I will always have a deep affection for the place and I’m hoping it flies. I’m sure it will.”
He also shared the numerous renovations and additions he has added to the pub over the years, including three bridges that cost £15,000 each to build.
“I planted a lot of trees by the waterfall, I made an archway of lime trees, so it is a romantic walk up from the centre up to the first field. It was lovely to see them progress,” Mr Thompson said.
“I’ve designed four bridges as well which link the walk; I’ve opened a new walk on the way, we’ve had those built to put in, one on top of the waterfall, three leading up. The third one is what I call Bride’s Bridge for photo opportunities for people who want to get married at the waterfall. They can stand on the bridge with the backdrop of the waterfall.
“The first thing people say when they come in is ‘wow, I’ve never seen anything like this before. I didn’t think they existed’. I would tell them about the history and they are fascinated.
“Somehow this year, more people than ever have said this. I don’t know why, I don’t know whether it’s a wider audience we are getting, maybe it’s because a lot of the old pubs now have gone and it’s the last one standing.”
Mr Thompson said that there has been interest in filming the pub again for the upcoming season of All Creatures Great and Small and now that he is retiring, he should have more time to watch the series for the first time.
“Charlie Thompson, the location guy, came a few weeks ago to have a look with some set designers. They’re considering it I think,” he said.
“I haven’t because I don’t often watch television as I’m usually in the pub. There are a lot of programmes that they do here that I haven’t seen.
“Funnily enough my daughter-in-law sent me a clip of the pub in All Creatures but I haven’t sat down and watched it myself.
“I’m sure I’ll follow it when I have time. I’m always really interested to see. I’ve more time to watch a series. I’m sure I’ll have the time now.”
He assures that his retirement is the sole reason for the sale as the business has continued to flourish and shares his hopes for its future.
“It’s a sale due to retirement. My partner has had stage 4 cancer which she has recovered from and I had a heart attack six or seven years ago so we’re not firing on all cylinders; we can’t do the work we used to do by any means that’s the sad part about it.
“Neither of us want to go, if we were 10 years younger we wouldn’t even be thinking about it.
“This place is very viable; it’s not like any of these pubs that are in distress. It’s a very popular and viable business. It’s a multi-faceted business; you’ve got the waterfall, camping, the bar, festivals we used to do so there is quite a lot for people to focus on. We’ve never done weddings at the waterfall, there’s that opportunity.
“My real hope is that they don’t overtly commercialise the waterfall. We’ve kept a balance of keeping the Victorian parkland so there is a romantic element without over-commercialising the waterfall walks, which somebody can quite easily do. I chose these potential new owners because they’ve got integrity and style about them.
“My other hope is that they will leave the original interior of the old inn, I think that’s very important. Even down to the decoration it’s very simplistic. It’s so quick to lose, you can never replicate it. You see that in any of these pubs trying to be old, you can tell that they are trying to be old by the colour themes and the materials used, whereas here we’ve got the originals. I’m hoping they don’t strip that out or strip it back, that would upset me.”