The owner of this Yorkshire Dales pub has been named the best landlord in Britain

The Wyvill Arms in Constable Burton
The Wyvill Arms in Constable Burton
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A chef who runs a pub in the picturesque Dales has been named the country's best licensee.

Nigel Stevens of the Wyvill Arms in Constable Burton, near Leyburn, won the coveted title at the Pub of the Year Awards ahead of the publication of the Good Pub Guide 2020.

Nigel Stevens of the Wyvill Arms

Nigel Stevens of the Wyvill Arms

Nigel, 57, is the son of publicans and he grew up in his parents' various inns across Yorkshire - several of them were in Wensleydale.

This is what it's like to run one of the most traditional pubs in the Yorkshire Dales
Twenty years ago he bought the Wyvill, a former farmhouse that dates back to the 18th century, and now his mother Terry, sister Vicky and daughter Simone all help to run the family business.

His elder daughter, Nicole, is also in licensed trade and is the youngest landlord on the Isle of Man, where she runs The Bay in Port Erin.

Two decades on, the Wyvill Arms wins regular accolades and has appeared in the Good Pub Guide, Good Food Guide and Michelin Guide.

Nigel favours local suppliers - his meat comes from Hammond's of Bainbridge and fruit and vegetables from Carrick's of Bedale. The Leyburn-based White Bedding Company's products have furnished the overnight accommodation. The pub also has its own herb garden.

He admits he has no idea why he won the Licensee of the Year title for the first time - but was told by the Good Pub Guide that he was their writers' 'overwhelming' choice.

This Dales hotel owner hires his entire staff from the village of Reeth
"I bought the Wyvill 21 years ago next month, because it was cheaper than the rent I was paying for my last pub, the King's Arms at Redmire, and because it had a big car park!

"I do the cooking myself and over the years I've worked in every aspect of the trade - I was a chef in Paris for a few years and I've been behind the bars. We try and set a good standard. We don't charge silly money but we offer the best quality, and we want to keep the good value. All the staff are local and we only use produce from the local area."

During Nigel's tenure, the pub has spent 15 years in the Michelin Guide, opened seven new guest rooms and attained a 9.5 rating on - but keeping the business in profit is not without its challenges.

“Running a pub and restaurant, especially in a rural area, is a real challenge these days due to a number of factors.

This Yorkshire pub has been named the poshest in Britain
“Sky-high rates, competition from supermarkets, availability of staff and the ever-increasing expectations of customers, which are raised further by the numerous cookery programmes on TV, put a strain on all those in the industry.

“But if you work hard, value your staff and keep your eye on the ever-changing trends, you’re half-way there. A landlord is only as good as his staff and suppliers and we are very lucky to have a great team.

“I’m really happy the award has come north because there are a lot of great landlords and landladies in the region who don’t get the appreciation they deserve.

"I've got no plans to retire or step down, and my two daughters and my sister are both in the trade and helping me."