How Britain's remotest pub in Yorkshire has been surviving lockdown

After centuries in one of the nation’s remotest locations, the Tan Hill Inn is well used to weathering the perils of an isolated existence.

Famed as Britain’s highest pub, which starred in a Waitrose Christmas advert after its festive guests were snowed in for days, it is once again riding out the storm.

And as it rapidly adapts, hosting remote gigs every week from living rooms across the country, the pub’s staff are hoping to carve out a new future for this piece of history.

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“There’s been a hell of a lot of chapters to Tan Hill, that’s it’s been through and survived,” said owner Andrew Hields.

Andrew Hields, owner of England's highest pub, the Tan Hill Inn, says it has survived this long in the bleakest of conditions, it will keep on carrying on, best way it can.

“This building dates back to the 17th century, and going back to the Domesday Book there has been a pub here.

“But Tan Hill is beyond a pub. It’s been through many recessions, many hard times. All chapters come to an end, and the next is dictated by us.”

The pub, once a miners’ hostelry which was frequented by workers digging for coal on the surrounding hills, features in William Camden’s ‘Britannia’ with notes of a solitary inn on the site.

Being Britain’s highest pub, standing at 1,732 feet - or 528 metres - above sea level, it is well known for its wild micro-climates and the storms which mean guests can find themselves snowed in for days.

Two staff live on site, strangers have been sending them rainbows to put in the windows during the coronavirus pandemic.

Staff at the inn, which has closed to avoid drawing visitors to the Yorkshire Dales during the coronavirus lockdown, are rallying indoors.

There are generators and internet access, but no neighbours.

One day on opening the post, they had found a rainbow painting and, putting out an appeal for more, were gifted dozens of pictures which now adorn the windows of the inn.

The pub was supposed to host Britain’s highest festival in July, with a sold-out set from singer Kim Wilde on the star line-up.

Andrew Hields, owner of England's highest pub, the Tan Hill Inn, says it has survived this long in the bleakest of conditions, it will keep on carrying on, best way it can.

Instead, it is now hosting virtual gigs from its Facebook page featuring its regular artists, which are drawing crowds of up to 15,000 online from as far away as Australia and India.

“The one thing we’ve always kept constant is the music,” said Mr Hields, who is from Leeds.

He bought Tan Hill two years ago and wants to ensure artists still have a living when pubs re-open after the lockdown.

“We still wanted to keep in touch with our 48,000 followers, so we set up a way that our artists can play direct. We’re just trying to do our best to achieve normality.”

The pub is losing thousands every week just with the generators to keep it in electricity, but says it has survived this long in the bleakest of conditions, it will keep on carrying on, best way it can.

There are two staff who live permanently at Tan Hill, which is 12 miles from civilisation but may as well be thousands, said Mr Hields, so remote can it feel without visitors.

“Isolation is the norm, up here,” he said. “It takes a certain type of person to live and work here.

“It’s surrounded by views, the beautiful cloud gazing and star gazing. But then you don’t see any people.

“Everybody who comes to Tan Hill has a minimum two-hour journey. That means that everybody who does come, puts their energy into it.

“It’s a real shame, when great things don’t survive the test of time.

“But even in the early 1900s, Tan Hill had its own postcards, its own beer.

“It’s a place, in the middle of nowhere, that has had to learn to adapt. It is a real beacon.”