View Full Version : Nidderdale by Bus

18-04-2010, 10:26
Our local bus company (Harrogate District Transport (http://www.harrogatebus.co.uk/)) offers a “go-anywhere, change buses as often as you like” type ticket for a very reasonable 6.50, it also occurred to me that most of the pubs in Nidderdale are either next to or very close to a bus stop and that a bus runs every hour in each direction. Putting all this together led to the great Nidderdale pub crawl..... by bus! (well passenger trains through the Dale were abolished in 1951). So it was that armed only with a note book, a camera, a temporarily full wallet and even more temporarily empty bladder I set off on the first sunny spring Saturday of the year. Number 24 buses leave Harrogate bus station, (which is conveniently close to the railway station), every hour at half past the hour for Pateley Bridge but you can get a 36 towards Ripon and change at Killinghall, the 36s leave every 20 minutes.

A bus in Nidderdale

I got to Killinghall at 11:45, just a little early to enjoy either of the two pubs in the village, Pubmaster's Three Horseshoes (http://www.pubsgalore.co.uk/pubs/29216/) serving Black Sheep Bitter and Tetleys Cask; or Sam Smith's Greyhounds (http://www.pubsgalore.co.uk/pubs/29146/) serving... well Sam Smiths. It may be better to visit Killinghall later in the day as it is on two bus routes into Harrogate, the 36 route service continues until 23:54. All the Nidderdale buses were a little late throughout the day. I also found that only the Royal Oak at Dacre Banks opens before noon. From Killinghall I went straight to Hampsthwaite getting off the bus at the Memorial Hall just before the bus turns right by the Joiners Arms (http://www.pubsgalore.co.uk/pubs/29155/). A short slow walk in the sun brought me to the pub at early doors and a refreshing pint or two of Rudgate Viking settled the dust of the journey so far. There were already a few auld lads outside together with a couple of smokers. Inside the lounge was already starting to fill up with diners but the Public was fairly quiet with only one local and two Americans, probably workers at the Menwith Hill spy base, locally known as the “Golf Balls”. Leaving the pub it was a case of retracing my steps to the bus stop and waiting for the No 24 to come round the corner. Once aboard the bus and leaving the village it climbs and sticks mainly to the valley top before dropping down into Birstwith, turns off the main road by the Post Office and crosses the river Nidd for the first time. Passing under the railway bridge that isn't there anymore, it goes up the hill, does a three point turn and comes back down the hill to stop just after the Old Station Inn (http://www.pubsgalore.co.uk/pubs/58501/). A short walk back up the hill past the railway bridge site and I entered the former Station Hotel and had the choice of Copper Dragon Black Gold as a guest or regulars Tetleys Cask and Black Sheep Bitter – no contest of course and the black beer was soon making its swift way down my throat. A little later the two yanks from Hampsthwaite arrived and for one nasty moment I thought the CIA might have caught up with me but they retired to the garden and I returned to my pint. I was a little peckish by now and so decided this would be a good place to eat. A decent enough portion of tuna sandwiches was supplied at 4.50 and in more than enough time to have a second pint and still have to wait for the next bus, the bus stop is beside the river and there's a large weir at this point. I became very interested in this rather than hanging around and looking too pervy to the group of teenage lasses also waiting for the bus. Birstwith is where the hourly buses cross over and the Harrogate bound bus was soon followed by the Pateley Bridge bound one to make the three point turn up the road.

The weir

The trip from here to Darley is the longest stretch without a pub as the bus climbs from the valley floor and hugs the side of the valley before climbing up to the long thin village of Darley. At the extreme western end of the village is the Wellington (http://www.pubsgalore.co.uk/pubs/54508/), but be alert because the pub is just to the left, off the direct route and can't be seen easily from the west bound approach although it's just a few steps away from the bus stop. Another eating pub with a decent choice of ale, including a good pint of Copper Dragon Golden Pippin; I didn't stop here on this occasion but stayed on the bus and headed back into the Dale proper. From Darley the bus crosses a small side valley and climbs up to the publess village of Dacre, it then drops down the valley toward Dacre Banks, this part of the journey gives the most spectacular views of the Dale even across to Brimham Rocks on the far side of the valley. Anyone who has seen the 1990s kids programme “Rotten Trolls (http://www.rottentrolls.co.uk/front.html)” will know what Brimham Rocks look like as it was filmed there.

a Rotten Troll at Brimham Rocks

Soon the bus drops down to the bottom of the hill and just after the traffic management chicane is the main Dacre Banks bus stop with a handy public convenience. On the opposite side of the road is Oak Lane, a short road leading to the Royal Oak, but unless you are infirm or in a wheelchair, you do not need to leave the bus here you can, as I did, stay in your seat until the bus crosses the river again and goes up a steep bank. At the top the bus will turn left and then you get off the bus opposite the village store, make a short walk back up Summerbridge's narrow main street and enjoy a fine pint of Sam Smith's Old Brewery Bitter in the Flying Dutchman (http://www.pubsgalore.co.uk/pubs/29135/). Being a Sam's pub it shuts at 3 o'clock, so I only had a swift pint of very nice but chilly OBB. After this I crossed the road and retraced the bus route back to the Royal Oak in Dacre Banks to visit lower Nidderdale's finest pub – this is about a half mile or 10 minute walk for the reasonably fit, the extremely fit can try it in the opposite direction, the infirm should visit the Royal Oak first then get the bus up the hill to Summerbridge. The Royal Oak (http://www.pubsgalore.co.uk/pubs/67832/) has fine views across the Dale and when I was there everyone was speculating on how the bird table had got into the field below the pub the previous night.

The mysterious bird table

Whither you rejoin the bus at Dacre Banks or in Summerbridge it is a very short ride to Low Laithe, once again the stop is just before the pub and it's not easily seen from the bus; so as soon as you see the 30 mph sign indicate to the driver you want off and leave the bus on a long straight section of road with cottages on the right. A short walk up a gentle hill will bring you to the Old Oak (http://www.pubsgalore.co.uk/pubs/69138/), only Black Sheep or Tetley's Cask available but it's a friendly place and the view out the back isn't bad, it also stays open all day Saturday. It is only a mile or so from Summerbridge so walking here is also an option, I didn't walk of course. I was very taken by the cricket playing gnome in the fireplace which looks like a trophy from a match played long ago, although I was worried by a couple of the drinks on the shots list, “Slippery Nipple” and “Mini Guinness Duckhams” in particular.

'nuff said

Foregoing the delights of a slippery nipple and after drinking up my only pint of Black Sheep all day, I returned to the bus stop and waited for the next bus. This will take you past the Birch Tree (http://www.pubsgalore.co.uk/pubs/66635/) at Wilsill which has limited opening hours and is a bit more of a restaurant than a traditional pub, I stayed on the bus as the pub was shut and shortly after was dropping back down the dale side into Pateley Bridge. The bus will remain here for ten minutes then return over the same route to Harrogate. I left the bus station and at the main road I could have turned left to visit the excellent Crown (http://www.pubsgalore.co.uk/pubs/29130/), or turned right and crossed the river for the Royal Oak (http://www.pubsgalore.co.uk/pubs/64147/), a more down market but family friendly pub. I went to the right on this occasion but I think left would have been a better choice. The Royal Oak was full of ankle biters, some reasonably behaved, some not, I growled at one brat who then behaved himself until I left – job done! The Taylor's Landlord was a bit chewy as well. Buses leave Pateley Bridge on the half hour until 19:30 and you can of course start your pub crawl anywhere along the valley and at any time, go in any direction and even go backwards and forwards as the mood takes you. The first Saturday bus leaves Harrogate at 06:20 arriving Pateley at 07:04 giving lots of time for walking before a hard days drinking. Buses run to Harrogate from Leeds every 20 minutes from 07:05 getting to Harrogate 40 minutes or so later; the last Saturday night bus back to Leeds is at 22:20, a comparable train service is also available. Sadly it is more difficult to reach either of the Crowns at Lofthouse (http://www.pubsgalore.co.uk/pubs/58502/) and Middlesmoor (http://www.pubsgalore.co.uk/pubs/67673/), further up the Dale, by public transport.

18-04-2010, 10:54
Great report oldboots, and photos as well. Looks like a good day out and just shows how much ground you can cover with a bit of planning.

Andy Ven
18-04-2010, 11:42
It looks fab. And it takes you through Pateley Bridge where my favourite wine shop is tucked away....


I could make a good weekend out of that trip!

19-04-2010, 13:36
A very enjoyable read 'ob'. I must admit to being almost completely ignorant of the area east of The Golfballs. Usually stay with friends in Pateley 1-2 times a year but never seem to quite get round to stopping in Dacre Banks or Summerbridge. Must remedy that.

I love The Crown at Middlesmoor, the view down the valley towards Gouthwaite reservoir is superb. Having read your review of the other Crown at Lofthouse, will definitely call next time I'm up there.