Waterwheel turns again at mill that’s now a Yorkshire Dales guest house

It was on a visit to Wensleydale as southern tourists that Neil and Jane McNair decided “on a whim” to open a guest house in a 250-year-old water-powered corn mill they stumbled across there.

That was a decade ago, at which point the grindstone had not turned for a century and was in need of repair.

“The building was just a shell, but I’d been a carpenter in London so it was an ideal project,” said Mr McNair, who set about turning Low Mill at Bainbridge, near Leyburn into a family home, as well as a tourist attraction.

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But it took the enforced closure of the property to complete the job, and eight weeks of further restoration later, it is welcoming guests once more.

Neil McNair has restored the waterwheel at Low Mill Guest House, Bainbridge, Leyburn

This time it was the waterwheel itself that was the focus of attention, and in its renewed state is capable again of harnessing the River Bain – thought to be the shortest in Britain – to drive two millstones and the associated cogs and gears.

“It was last used to turn out animal feed, at a time when the production of other produce had been industrialised,” said Mr McNair, whose guest rooms all have working mill components as part of their architecture.

He added: “Jane does tours of the mechanisms so our visitors can see what a working grain mill was like in the 18th century.”

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Neil McNair has restored the waterwheel at Low Mill Guest House, Bainbridge, Leyburn