After a good walk in the Dales, Amanda Wragg finds the perfect watering hole, and much more besides
Why is the King's Head the perfect watering hole?
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Oh what a glorious place to rest your weary bones after a lush Dales walk. Or in my case, a pootle round the village to remind myself what a captivating spot Kettlewell is. Apart from the ‘please do not park in front of this house’ signs on the front of every house. It must be pretty galling though, when trippers pinch your place. There’s a lot to recommend the newly refurbished King’s Head but parking spaces isn’t one of them, so you’ll have to take your chances.

The exterior’s had a smart paint job and there are tables and chairs for sitting out – it’s a handsome enough old pub but it’s inside they’ve made a big impact. Gone are the sticky carpets and nicotine ceilings – the huge stone flags have been scrubbed up and the monumental inglenook fireplace is a major feature in the pleasant open bar. There’s an eclectic mix of old scrubbed tables and some unusual Gustavian styling, including striped velvet upholstery and dark grey matte painted settles. It’s just this side of being over-designed and fortunately still feels like a country pub.

Hetton Pale Ale from the Dark Horse Brewery, Black Sheep Bitter and Tetleys are on tap but I treated myself to a very toothsome Prosecco at 3.90 a glass. Wine-wise there are around 10 whites and 10 reds with a good number by the glass. It’s good to see locals sitting in one corner enjoying just a pint, but there’s no doubt that most folk will come here for the food.

Chef/owner Michael Pighills has put time in at the stove at the Angel at Hetton and he knows his onions. A huge blackboard on one wall features the likes of pigeon breast salad with crispy quail’s egg, black pudding & chorizo and a very good plate of food it is, and a snip at 6.50. Elsewhere, find pea and wild garlic veloute, crispy ham hock & sourdough for under a fiver and how does slow braised beef, horseradish mash, baby spinach, carrots and turnip, crispy oxtail, red wine sauce sound? Pretty good I reckon, and even better at 12 quid.

My advice, for what it’s worth is to make a night of it. Do the walk (have a pint in the amazing Falcon at Arncliffe if you’re walking up that particular dale) before heading back and filling your boots in front of the fire; head upstairs to one of six very comfortable, contemporary bedrooms designed by Michael’s wife Jenny – she’s also a charming front of house.

About The Author

Mandy Wragg is a freelance food journalist, writing and inspecting for the Yorkshire Post, Alastair Sawday, the Morning Advertiser, the AA, Cool Places and David Hancock's Inn Places. She co-writes, an independent guide to eating, drinking and staying in Yorkshire.

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