Village focus: Shooting set menu at Ramsgill

Ramsgill, with the Yorke Arms in the background.
Ramsgill, with the Yorke Arms in the background.
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Its picture-perfect location at the tip of Gouthwaite Reservoir and in the centre of the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has long made Ramsgill a favoured spot for walkers and picnickers.

It is also a choice location at the other end of the culinary scale, with the ivy-covered and Michelin-starred Yorke Arms occupying an imposing position across from the village green.

The arrival there nine years ago of the comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, to eat mouthfuls saddle of Nidderdale lamb between their impersonations of Michael Caine for a TV series called The Trip, brought a level of exposure unheard of for a community of only a few dozen homes.

But neither performers nor picnics underpin the economy of Ramsgill and the villages that surround it. A more traditional rural pursuit forms its backbone, said one of its council stalwarts.

“The reason the majority of pubs survive up here at the moment is the income they get from people who come here to stay when they go out shooting – whether it’s pheasant or grouse,” said Stephen Ramsden, vice chairman of Upper Nidderdale Parish Council.

“It’s a seasonal thing but it makes up probably a good half of the winter, especially with the pheasants.

“There’s a lot of activity for the pubs. It’s a cycle of tourism and shooting, and if we lost that for various reasons, the rural pubs would take a considerable dive.”

Ramsgill, a hamlet still surrounded by working farms, has only the Yorke Arms by way of licenced premises, but Wath and Lofthouse, which flank it to the north and south, have other hostelries, and none would get rich by relying on daytrippers, Mr Ramsden said.

“It’s called an area of natural beauty, which means that people like to come and walk around. And they usually come with their packed lunches and a flask – whereas your shooting fraternity will bring in £5,000 to shoot and perhaps another £8,000 spent in the local economy.”

The issue of where either contingent might park during their stay remains contentious. An attempt was seen off last year to have the green deregistered as common land, but attempts to designate other areas for cars have been unsuccessful, and no alternatives are currently on the table, Mr Ramsden said.

Ramsgill has neither shops nor a school but it does retain a handsome, stone-built village hall, which is a hub for locals. “It’s an important part of the community,” said Sarah Robson, whose family has been in the area for five generations.

Gifted to the village long ago, it hosts church events, WI functions and birthday parties.