THERE are few things better than a Yorkshire pint in a Yorkshire pub. But which are the best ones in our part of the county? We asked GAVIN AITCHISON, pub columnist for our sister paper The Press, to pick 10 of his favourites in and around Ryedale. He stresses that the list is non-exhaustive, as he is still working his way around some of the villages. But what do you think of his choices? Has he missed some gems? Have your say below or by tweeting with the hashtag #ryedalepubs or share your comments on the Gazette's Facebook page.
1) Suddabys at The Crown Hotel in Malton – I popped in here on spec a few years ago, while waiting for a bus, and couldn’t believe my luck. It’s an old-school pub but with a great range of modern beers, including some of their own house ales. The little beer shop in a side-room is an added draw.
2) Birch Hall Inn at Beck Hole – This is a great spot for walkers, just off the old railway route between Goathland and Grosmont. There is no bar here – it’s one of the few pubs where drinkers are still served through a hatch instead. There’s a beautiful riverside garden in summer, hearty sandwiches for the hungry, and a small but well-stocked sweet shop next door for good measure.
3) The Royal Oak in Helmsley – Helmsley may be more famous for its upmarket hotels and tea-rooms, but this pub is a bigger draw for me. I almost collapsed into this place after a long walk a couple of years ago and it provided perfect rest and sustenance. Ham, egg and chips and a good pint – what more could you ask for?
4) Jolly Farmers at Leavening – This pub epitomises what a good village local can be – not just a pub but the hub of its community. It promotes the village gala, scarecrow festival, and even offers a community cinema.
5) Blacksmith’s Arms at Lastingham – I’ve yet to find a better pub in the North York Moors than this one. It has an enchanting bar-room, a roaring fire in winter, friendly staff and locals, a good choice of ales, and the food is spectacular. The steak pie is among the best I’ve ever had!
6) If you want to work off your Blacksmith’s lunch, then follow it with a walk to The Crown at Hutton-le-Hole.
7) New Inn at Cropton – This is a paradise for beer lovers. Not only are the beers good – they are made just a stone’s throw away. Cropton Brewery was formed 30 years ago but has now been renamed Great Yorkshire Brewery. Brewery tours are available and there is a good menu.
8) Grapes at Slingsby - Leigh and Catharine Spooner bought this pub in 2012 and have turned it into a smart, chic, community local. It is bright but not garish, there are local ales and a simple menu. The pub also acts as a makeshift museum for countless pieces of Guinness memorabilia.
9) Just inside Ryedale, The Cross Keys at Thixendale is a wonderful, timeless little pub. It’s a great starting/ending point for walkers in the Wolds and always has good food and beer available.
10) The Abbey Inn at Byland Abbey was long a favourite of day-trippers after a good lunch before or after their sight-seeing. It’s now a tea-room, but the Wombwell Arms just up the road remains and is an excellent alternative, with good food and fine ales.