A weekend trip to the Dales left me with the marked impression men outnumber women in this most rural region. Making our way into The Green Dragon Inn in Hardraw, Enduro and I passed a side room in which sat some 15 men, and not a female in sight. A barmaid entered with a tray, hollering “Who’s for sticky toffee pudding?” above the chat and several ruddy hands shot up.
Since it was around 6pm – tea time – you couldn’t help but be left with the feeling these men lacked a wife at home knocking out puddings, and were seeking solace and a hot meal in the local pub. Online country dating sites such as Muddy Matches and singlefarmer.co.uk must help in connecting lonely singles out here, but I would have given anything to see a Yorkshire party bus pull up outside. Imagine the men’s excitement at seeing a load of tipsy women pile out; the sticky toffee would just have to wait.
Enduro had booked a night at the Stone House Hotel just up the road, so we sauntered to The Green Dragon for a pre-dinner drink, the locals in the ancient 13th-century bar eyeing us with suspicion.
Hunger rising, deciding that a walk up the steep hill to the waterfall behind the pub would be too much at this point, we made our way back to the hotel as dusk began to fall, lambs bleating and swallows swooping, the village of Hawes nestled across the valley.
Enduro does this thing. It’s called ‘take me anywhere and I’ll soon remember I’ve been there on my trial bike’.
“Aaaaah, I know were this is”, he’ll say. “We came here on the bikes. You go up there past that gate and it takes you to this tiny trail and up past a farm…etc. etc.” I swear, we could go to the deepest, darkest part of England and he’d have ridden it on a motorbike. He knows the Dales like the back of his hand. Since my own navigational skills are somewhat lacking, this is a happy coincidence.
Another thing I appreciate about Enduro is he’ll eat pretty much anything. Like a hungry, cheerful Labrador, he’ll hoover up whatever is put in front of him. I’m intrigued, actually, as to how far this particular trait goes. Would he, for example, eat things of indeterminable origin in a place like China, such as squid eyeballs?
This night, eating in the hotel restaurant, wasn’t the night to find out. The menu was a far less out-there selection of Yorkshire delights. Enduro had a mouthwatering goats cheese starter and I had crayfish followed by lemon sole.
Simonstone Hall, billed as a ‘magnificent country house’ is two minutes’ drive away. As we strolled back from the pub an Aston passed us, roaring up the hill to Simonstone, but we found the Stone House wonderfully cosy and characterful, the staff friendly and helpful.
I would recommend it, and if you’re on the hunt for a single sheep farmer, the Dales is the place.