Glass-walled bistro opens over steep 80ft chasm at Yorkshire's How Stean Gorge

A wonder of Yorkshire's natural landscapes is to be opened to the public in new ways with a glass-panelled bistro over an 80ft gorge.

Owners Stan and Anne Beer. Image: Gerard Binks

Nidderdale's How Stean Gorge, formed in the last Ice Age and designated a triple Site of Special Scientific Interest, sees steep chasms and rivers with fossils frozen in its limestone.

Its adventure facility, with gorge scrambling, caving, canoeing and a high wire, as well as cafe and campsite, is already a popular visitor attraction in the region.

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Now the new Vista Bistro is opening under a pilot trial until the end of the month under the Government's 'Eat Out' scheme, set in a cantilevered extension over a steep chasm.

Sallie Verity, Front of House Manager. Image: Gerard Binks.

It is hoped it can reopen come winter with a permanent offer and options for hire, featuring chef Jowyane Marshall from the former Michelin-starred restaurant the Yorke Arms at Ramsgill.

“Now diners can experience the majestic views without a hard hat or wet suit," said owner Stan Beer.

"It’s a boutique bistro with a remarkable difference. We wanted the food to be as special as the view.”

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Chef Jowyane Marshall. Image: Gerard Binks

Mr Beer, a retired paramedic, bought the nature sight in 2007 with wife and former nurse Anne, having been a volunteer at the Gorge since the 1970s.

It has grown significantly in that time, employing specialist adventure guides and drawing 10,000 guests to its outdoor activities and 20,000 attending the cafe and venue every year.

A major tourism attraction, having paid £2m in staff wages since it opened, Mr Beer is particularly aware of its impact on the region's rural economy.

"Livelihoods depend on us," he said. "The virus has messed everything up, and we can’t afford the venue to be empty over the winter.

"This is an exciting and magical way to support rural business. The whole place is lit up at night, it’s really special.

"Even after all these years here, there’s a spot further up the gorge that still blows my mind away, where it's literally vertical on both sides.

"When you’re there you’re not in Britain. The Victorians used to call it ‘Little Switzerland’.”

Jamaican influence

Earlier this summer it was announced that the Yorke Arms at Ramsgill, a nationally-acclaimed restaurant, was to change direction and become a country house for hire.

Mr Beer has secured its former chef de partie and sous chef, Jamaican-born Jowyane Marshall, who hopes to bring a Carribean influence with potential theme nights.

“It was a phenomenal experience working at the Michelin starred Yorke Arms under Frances Atkins," said Mr Marshall. "I cooked for celebrities like Mary Berry and appeared on Saturday Kitchen.

"I’m always ambitious. Unlike London that’s saturated with chefs, there’s real opportunity here to carve a reputation and dining experience, meet customers and hear their feedback.

"The menu is small and simple, more gastro-pub - we’re keeping it simple with locally-sourced produce. Going forward, I’d love to achieve a rosette for the new bistro.”

The Vista Bistro is opening on evenings through August to make the most of the Government's Eat Out scheme, while the cafe will operate through the day.

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