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Bolt Hole with Blue Skies

One of my favourite places is the area of Wharfedale around the beautiful village of Appletreewick. Something of a bolt hole, it is only an hour's drive from home but feels like a different world. Situated on the opposite side of the valley to the Bolton Abbey to Grassington road, you turn off by Barden Tower and drop down towards the river, crossing over the narrow 17th Century Barden Bridge, follow the road round for another couple of miles or so, and you're there.

I visited the area today, taking advantage of the early Autumn sunshine to walk a few miles alongside the River Wharfe. As usual when it's a year or two when you've visited a favourite place, you get the same sense of wonder that you get on your first visit.

Surrounded by some lovely wooded countryside, Appletreewick is overlooked by Simon's Seat, part of an extensive hillside but with a distinctive rocky summit.

Appletreewick, Wharfedale
The two pubs in the village, the New Inn and the Craven Arms, are both firm favourites, and it is a great that 2 such pubs should co-exist within such a small area. Both offer a good choice of local ales, and decent food with locally-sourced ingredients. 

I headed off up the riverside path towards Burnsall. Now this is a lovely village with its striking bridge,tearooms and obligatory gallery but as is the case with many such places it gets overrun at weekends when it is definitely a place to avoid. On a midweek day though, out of season, it is worth a potter around. The village is also home to the Red Lion, beside the bridge; the last time I had visited it had been eye-wateringly expensive just for a cup of coffee. It has a position of dominance and unfortunately the customer pays for it.

I re-traced my steps back along the riverside path rather than following the road. It is a pleasant walk on a pretty solid surface, passing through a couple of farms before the return to Appletreewick brings you first to the Craven Arms.

The Craven Arms, Appletreewick
This is a great village pub with a good choice of local beers. I opted for the Dark Horse Pale(£3.20/pint) and sat out in the sunshine to enjoy it, just below a bike which I assume had been placed there to mark the visit earlier in the year of the Tour De France. 

I remember a few years ago visiting the Craven Arms and recognising the girl behind the bar. " Excuse me", I said "are you Vicky?" " Yes", she replied, as she seemed to recognise me. " We used to work together, I sacked you!" It was the person I had unfortunately had to let go from where we used to work for persistent bad timekeeping. Ooops! No problem, obviously better-suited to working at the Craven Arms, despite the circumstances of our last meeting she nonetheless made us very welcome and gave us a tour of the then newly-opened Cruck Barn at the back of the pub, the first one built in Wharfedale for over a hundred years.

Finishing my pint, I wandered the few hundred yards on the lane to the New Inn, the village's other hostelry. This pub first hit the headlines when its legendary landlord John Showers declared it a no-smoking pub, many years before the law was introduced for every pub in the land. Run subsequently by the mountain-bike loving John Pitchers and his family for many years, it was, and still appears to be, the home of the Appletreewick Dangerous Sports Club - motto " Who dies with the most toys wins". 

The New Inn, Appletreewick
Of the village's 2 pubs, the New Inn is the more down-to-earth. There was a choice of 4 beers here, and along with the food, they also have a number of rooms available for those who wish to stay a little longer. I selected a pint of Goose Eye Chinook(£3/pint), which I enjoyed in the sunshine overlooking the fantastic countryside. A great conclusion to a lovely afternoon in one of my favourite areas....

Looking towards Simon's Seat from Appletreewick


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