Food and wine tours in Yorkshire: A pub crawl with culture

Most pub crawls aren't like this. Traditionally they would begin with a shot of Jagermeister, or at least a couple of pints at the first stop. What they wouldn't do is include a stop in a field somewhere to listen as the local parish sings church hymns that waft into the clear country air.

But then, this isn't your average pub crawl. Today it's far less about the pubs, and far more about the crawl. Each stop is about three kilometres apart, a hike that takes you not down city streets but across Yorkshire Dales, these beautiful, rolling green hills that make up the picture-perfect landscape around the little villages of Buckden and Cray.

Our starting point is Buckden, one of those friendly little country villages that Yorkshire produces so effortlessly. I spent the previous night here, eating pheasant pie and drinking pints of local ale and getting warm by the fire. I was also talked into singing an appalling version of Waltzing Matilda after an impromptu musical session broke out.

After a night like that, an eye-opening pint of beer would probably be a reasonable way to start this tour. But that's not the plan. The plan is to lace up my hiking boots and meet Dave Gallivan, an official Yorkshire Dales Guide, who is going to lead me on a 10-kilometre loop that will take in a couple of the area's best pubs, as well as the beautiful landscape in which they're placed.

Dave, gruff but warm-hearted, is as old-school as they come. You won't find him on social media, because he has no interest in such things. Don't worry, he'll tell you. He once guided Tom Cruise on Yorkshire Dales walk and had no clue about who he was until his son informed him that the guy in the sunglasses that everyone kept staring at was kind of a big deal.

Dave also has that charming and yet brutal Yorkshire way of leaving you in no doubt about the fact that you have just said something silly.

"So, how old are these fences," I ask as we begin our walk, pointing at the huge network of stone barriers separating the dales' green fields.

"Fences? Fences! These, my boy, are not fences," Dave says, incredulous. "Fences! Did you hear that? They're walls. Stone walls. Bloody fences? Maybe that's what you have in Australia. Fences everywhere. But these things here are walls, centuries old. Walls."

Ah. Right. Got it. Walls. With that we proceed, past the parishioners who have walked outside into the rich sunshine to sing their hymns, through a gate and up into the dales proper.

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This is exactly what you picture when Yorkshire comes to mind: rolling hills painted a brilliant green, sheep munching on the lush grass, the ruins of old farmhouses, the stone – ahem – walls that have been built and maintained over centuries.

Our first stop is the White Lion Inn in the little hamlet of Cray. We take the long way there, climbing to the top of a fell before circling around a valley and wandering into Cray. Buckden Pike, one of the area's highest peaks and a popular destination for walkers, is nearby, but we've got bigger fish to fry.

Specifically, it's time for a pint. Or at least it's time for me to have a pint, as Dave is abstaining at this early hour of the morning. We sit by the fire for half an hour or so, chatting about the various celebrities Dave has guided and failed to recognise, before it's time to hit the road again.

Next stop: Hubberholme, home of the 12th-century St Michael and All Angels Church, and the pub that the vicars of old would secretly call into for a pint of ale. The George Inn is yet another of those old country pubs that oozes charm, a friendly place where plenty of walkers are today calling in for a shepherd's pie and a big glass of local beer.

I could very happily settle in here for the rest of the afternoon and evening and call a taxi to take me back to Buckden about closing time. However, Dave is here for a proper pub crawl, and that means completing the loop.

The sun is still shining, the fields are still glowing, the farmers nod and say gruff hellos as we walk back along a country lane towards Buckden. This has to be about the most civilised pub crawl of all time. It makes a nice change.

TRIP NOTES

MORE

traveller.com.au/england

visitbritain.com

yorkshiredalesguides.co.uk

FLY

Emirates has twice-daily flights from major Australian ports to Manchester, via Dubai. See emirates.com/au

Buckden is a two-hour drive north of Manchester.

STAY

The White Lion Inn has modern, comfortable rooms in Cray from $164 a night. See bestpubinthedales.co.uk

WALK

Guided walks with Dave Gallivan, or another Yorkshire Dales Guide, start from £60 for three hours. Itineraries are flexible. See yorkshiredalesguides.co.uk

Ben Groundwater travelled as a guest of Visit Britain.

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