Dales pub stamps its mark on local life

The Queens Arms at Litton
The Queens Arms at Litton
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A REMOTE Dales pub which reopened a year ago has scooped a top award for its commitment to the community.

The Queens Arms at Litton, in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, was bought by local couple Mark and Heather Hancock and opened on June 1 last year.

The 17th-century pub’s staff have now been honoured with an Alastair Sawday award for putting the business at the centre of village life.

The pub has hosted parish council meetings, it sells stamps, bread and milk and also hosts a range of tasting evenings. The darts team is back and the business has created around 15 jobs.

Only three pubs in England and Wales were honoured in the category; the others were the Old Hall Inn at Chinley, Derbyshire, and Y Ffarmers at Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn, seven miles from Aberystwyth.

David Hancock (no relation), editor of Sawday’s Pubs & Inns of England & Wales, said: “With many rural pubs closing the Queens Arms is a good news 
story in the remote Yorkshire Dales.

“It remains a local offering Yorkshire ales, proper country cooking, a warm welcome to walkers and six comfortable bedrooms.

“With over 950 pubs in the guide, winning is a terrific achievement for the hard-working landlords, landladies, chefs and staff.”

The entry in the guide says of the Queens Arms: “It’s a good day when a rural pub re-opens.

“This one sits in Litton, one of the most remote villages in this corner of the Dales and as pretty as it gets, with a smattering of handsome, thick-walled 17th-century houses, wildflower meadows and the river Skirfare burbling through.

“The Queens Arms, long, low and freshly whitewashed, is a fabulous find after a lovely walk. A lick of paint has smartened the inside without routing tradition; flagged floors, open fire, beams and stone walls remain.

“There’s a new regime in the tiny kitchen, and a short but appealing menu. Seared Littondale mallard breast with homemade carrot and ginger chutney is a substantial starter, while pot roast wild rabbit with prunes will set you up nicely for that stroll – particularly if you finish with treacle sponge.

“As you’d expect in a building this age, no wall is straight, but the wobbliness just adds to the charm, along with some lovely antique pieces.”

Queens Arms owner Mark Hancock, who is chairman of Skipton-based company Rural Solutions, said everyone at the pub was “chuffed and delighted” with the award.

He praised staff, including manager John Younger and head chef Ann Baker.

“We are not pretentious; we are not a gastro pub,” he added. “We have good cooks who make proper pub food.”