Tan Hill Inn, N Yorkshire, pub review

File photo dated 01/12/06 of a man drinking a pint of beer as Chancellor George Osborne is to deliver his first post-election Budget.
Credit: PA

At 1,732 feet above sea level, the Tan Hill Inn really is a top pub. In fact, it’s the top pub: the highest in the land. Whichever direction you approach from, there is a sense of isolation as you cross bleak moorland. When I arrive, however, the remote 17th-century inn is jumping. A group of about 30 leather-clad bikers have taken over one room. There are no walkers today, though we are right on the Pennine Way. Maybe later in the summer.

Partygoers celebrating new year in 2010 were stuck on site for three days (I’m sorry I missed that one)

An open fire has burned constantly for 100 years in the stone fireplace so that distressed walkers can always find warm shelter. The pub is open every day of the year. It’s even got its own generator. The staff seem friendly, though a large sign warns that they are sometimes unpredictable because of altitude sickness.

From time to time in winter, customers get snowed in, despite the pub’s caterpillar-tracked, Theakston’s Old Peculier-emblazoned bus. Partygoers celebrating new year in 2010 were stuck on site for three days (I’m sorry I missed that one).

Making tracks: the Tan Hill Inn's snow truck Credit: Mike Kipling/Alamy

Six real ales are on offer on the ancient dark wood bar to accompany my Tan Hill sausage in Yorkshire pudding. I tried the Tan Hill 1732 pale ale (5%) brewed by the local Dent Brewery, and the peppery-hop Black Sheep Bitter (3.8%) from Masham. There was also Theakston’s Bitter (3.8%) and Old Peculier (5.8%) dark and full-bodied and a little sweet; all in all, a very good selection. 

Tan Hill Inn was the first pub in Britain to obtain a licence to hold weddings, and they offer a bespoke service in a beautiful setting. The barn, known locally as an “indoor beer garden”, is also used for gigs (last November some 200 people came up to see Scouting for Girls and were forced to spend the night after a deep snowfall).

There can’t be many days up here when it isn’t windy – which explains why the pub has been featured in television double-glazing ads.  On clear winter nights it’s rumoured you can see the Northern Lights up here – with no light pollution, to boot. Though it might be the Old Peculier.

Ed Jowsey

Reeth, Swaledale, N Yorks DL11 6ED 01833 628246; tanhillinn.com