Pint to pint: The Robin Hood Inn, West Yorks

Date:03-07-2013 07:58:08 read:2

Pint to pint: The Robin Hood Inn, West Yorks

Our guide to the best British pubs. This week: The Robin Hood Inn, West Yorks.

man drinking a pint of beer
Homely: The Robin of Hood is a locals’ pub through and through Photo: PA

The Cragg Vale road begins in the Calder Valley at Mytholmroyd, Yorkshire, and climbs through woods and houses to the moorlands around Blackstone Edge, Lancashire. At the lower end, there’s a blue notice which announces that the route is 5.5 miles long, climbs 968ft and is the “longest continuous gradient in England”. Cyclists regard it as a challenge and every time you drive along it, there they are, exhibiting rictus-grins of pain for pleasure.

The Robin Hood, a sturdy building of millstone grit and Yorkshire slate, is a mile or so out of Mytholmroyd. There’s a sign, featuring the man himself and a cast-iron can’t fail invitation:

Ye Bowmen and ye Archers good,

Come in and drink with Robin Hood.

If Robin to the fete has gone,

Then take a glass with little John.

You are in the cosy small higgledy-piggledy main room as soon as you set foot in the place. There’s a lovely Victorian fireplace with a coal and log fire always ablaze. I call this bar the gossip zone, because I find I’m usually drawn into conversation before I even sit down. The Robin, as it is known hereabout, is a locals’ pub.

There are three cask beers on offer, two of them, left and right, Landlord and Golden Best, from the Timothy Taylor brewery in Keighley. The centre pump is for a guest beer, which changes regularly. The locals like to try the new beer, so the order is often “two pints from the middle, please”.

The pub is run by Roger and Elva Wood, who are farmers, so the beef for the burgers (£6.50 with chips and salad) or the lamb (£13.50 lamb shoulder with rosemary and red wine gravy, plus a mountain of vegetables) come from animals last seen grazing the fields behind the pub.

The huge talking point in the Robin at the moment is the 2014 Tour de France. On the second day, July 6, on a 200km run from York to Sheffield, the peloton will travel right past the front door of the pub, tackling that famous incline. “I reckon we’ll have a lock-in that day,” chortles one of the regulars.

Cragg Vale, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire HX7 5SQ (01422 885899). Mon-Wed, 3pm-midnight; Thurs-Sun, noon-midnight

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