Pubpaper 702 – Snow Trapped Pubs

Posted: 31st March 2013 by santobugtio in Pub Paper, Writing
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Snow glorious snow, in the week before Easter you couldn’t avoid it, especially if you live atop a hill like me.  Older locals are saying that they haven’t seen this much since 1963 or 1969 according to who you talk to.  Buried cars and hitting 7 foot walls of snow on country lanes become the norm in the week which should have heralded the official start of spring.   Local shops started to run out of stock as people were unable to either get their car off the drive or onto a usable road.  Of course the Southern press panicked because they had seen a flake of snow within 15 miles of London.

The big beneficiaries in all this chaos however were the local restaurants and pubs that people turn to when travelling anywhere else is off the agenda.  Focusing on my home village I was speaking to the owner of the curry house which has taken over the old Pack Horse premises in Southowram Mumbai Flames and he had his best weekend of business since he opened 6 weeks ago with a full complement of covers over the 3 days, the bank holiday weekend was also already booked up early in the week for the four days off the back of the forecast cold weather too.  My two local pubs the Cock and Bottle and Shoulder of Mutton were nicely packed out with people from the village, benefiting from the fact people drank more freed from the burden of the car.

There are downsides of course.  If you are a remote pub or restaurant which relies on visiting trade, especially if you are located in an area prone to poor road conditions after snow, you’re passing trade is pretty much decimated until vehicular access is restored.  However not many pubs are are isolated as the Tan Hill Inn in North Yorkshire located 527m above sea level and 11 miles from the nearest main road or village.  The pub has been in its very special location since the 18th century where it served the local miners who dug out the nearby coat pits.  After the mine closed in 1929 the local farmers and motor tourists to the area kept the pub going, more recently welcoming walkers doing the Pennine Way long distance walk.  There used to a small hamlet built up around the pub, but the workers cottages were demolished when the mine closed due to new roads allowing better coal to be brought into the surrounding valleys.

Most people would have seen the pub featured in an advert for a double glazing company named after a rather large mountain in Nepal.  I’ve visited the pub which is a good honest traditional hostelry which does decent food when walking several times and the beer is well kept.  However it is the location which makes the visit, the pure surrounding desolation of the area.  This desolation had probably lost its charm by the fifth day for the two staff and four guests who were stranded at the pub after 8ft snow drifts cut off the road back to civilisation for nearly a week, the good news was that the beer didn’t run out, although some of the visitors bar tabs or livers would not look that healthy after the prolonged visit I suspect.  Much as I like visiting the pub, the charm of such places is being able to come and go at will without walking 11 miles eight foot above the road at times.

Pubs much closer to home have suffered from being cut off by miles of snow covered road, the Packhorse at Widdop (over 3 miles from the nearest village) was inaccessible until the easter weekend, that is over a week without driving customers, luckily there were no reported guests stuck in the accommodation leaving just the landlords to endure the isolation, something they probably expected at times when taking the place over in 2007.  The Turnpike at Rishworth Moor on the main road from Ripponden to the M62 at Saddleworth also had its road closed for the majority of the week leading up to Easter.

According to current forecasts, spring is not meant to arrive for a few weeks yet, but personally I’m looking forward to sitting outside in a warm beer garden drinking good beer as soon as possible.   After last years wash out that was summer, here’s to a good summer for pubs because lets be honest the winters been pretty rough!