Thursday, February 05, 2009
Whilst up north after a spot of climbing in the Cumbrian mountains I decided to deviate from the A1 when travelling back to London and head over to the Pennine Way for a swift half in the highest pub in Old Blighty the Tan Hill Inn. The Tan Hill situated at 1,732 ft above sea level is a regular stop off for Sunday dinner on our Dove Cragging weekends away before we return home. A brief history of the Inn is as follows: It is built on land described by William the bastard whilst compiling the domesday book in around 1085 as being a wasteland. There are coal mining records on the site that date from at least the 12th Century A.D. and possibly earlier. The coal was a poor quality crow coal which gave off a lot of soot when burnt. It was not suitable for the steam engines that were to arrive in the Industrial Revolution - the superior coal from the County Durham pits was used instead to fuel the trains on the Stockton and Darlington Railway. The crow coal was used to fuel the lime kilns of Arkengarthdale - an environmental disaster, not just because of the pollution but also due to the kilns using wood, stripping Swaledale of the trees that grew in the more sheltered areas. Mixed with peat, this crow coal can be banked up over night and after a bit of poking in the morning can be rekindled. The seams were only four feet (120cm) thick but the mines under Tan Hill were extensive, justifying the need for a pub there. Horses would line up with their carts waiting to be loaded with coal for Reeth and Swaledale while the miners would sing and get drunk in the pub The inn was not on it's own all the time. Miners' cottages stood near the inn until they were demolished with the closure of the mines in the early 20th Century. Today the Inn is a haven of warmth and tranquility on the windy exposed Pennine Way where you can enjoy a pint or three in comfortable surroundings with a roaring fire, a dog & a cat and sometimes a few ducklings and even a sheep.