Pub review: Cow and Calf, Ilkley

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All together now: On Ilkla Moor baht ’at ...

You needed your ’at and a lot more besides on a stormy October day, as Hurricane Brian blew itself out across the ravaged moor. Despite the stunning countryside we eschewed a yomp in favour of Sunday lunch in front of a roaring fire at Vintage Inns’ Cow & Calf. So strong was the wind, we could barely open the car door, so it was clearly the right decision.

Built high on the moor above Ilkley in 1844 it was the country’s first hydropathic hotel.

Comfort envelopes you. It’s vast inside, but the space has been sectioned off so there are plenty of cosy corners. Think tartan carpets, plush upholstery, leather banquettes, plump cushions and at least two open fires. On this wickedly windy day the place is full to capacity, but there’s barely a wait for drinks.

Alongside the Mary Jane, on the pumps you’ll find Sharp’s Doom Bar, Great Heck Mercy, Peerless Knee Buckler IPA and Timothy Taylor Landlord. There’s a very decent wine list and decent coffee for the designated driver. Food is served all day, every day, and during the week there’s a fixed price lunch and dinner menu.

Vintage Inns are a chain of course, with around 180 pubs. They’re pretty much identical, both in terms of décor and offer. But you could do a lot worse. Particularly on the top of the moors.

The Cow and Calf, Hangingstone Road, Ilkley, LS29 8BT. 01943 607335. Open: Monday to Friday, 12 to 11pm; Saturday, 12pm to 11pm; Sunday, 12 to 10.30pm.


Welcome 5/5

Drinks selection 5/5

atmosphere 5/5

prices 4/5