Because many are not used to being so far outside York, we had decided to take a couple of detours. First thirsty stop was the New Inn at Cropton, where we all enjoyed trying to match the newly-named beers of Great Yorkshire Brewery to the old Cropton range. I think everyone did well here and there were still some old favourites such as Scoresby Stout and Monkmans Slaughter on tap.
On arrival at the Blacksmiths Arms, we were greeted with the old world charm of a great log fire burning in the Yorkshire range in the bar, a warm welcome from the staff and a room prepared for our delicious buffet. We crowded into the cosy bar to hear Pat Burlingham present the award to owners Peter and Hils Trafford. She described how Pete and Hils have worked hard over nine years to build up trade in difficult times: they not only provide accommodation and a top quality restaurant, but they also maintain a traditional bar and serve quality ales from local breweries. Over their time Pete and Hils have refurbished and made small and sympathetic improvements to the multi-room layout. Peter was obviously delighted with the award and gave a great speech which included pointing out his growing collection of pump clips pinned to the ceiling beams.
On offer on our visit were the regular, Theakston’s Bitter, together with Rudgate Ruby Mild and Marston Moor Fairfax Special, which was later replaced by Rudgate Volsung – all were in tiptop condition.
Pat had a little story to illustrate the community spirit Pete and Hils foster here. In June 2004 they put on a whole day of nostalgia to commemorate 60 years after the D Day Landings. There was a tank outside, everyone was dressed in 1940’s fashion and, of course, there were spam fritters. As Pat’s dad Bill Burlingham, then 90 years old, was a survivor of this day, Pat and Stuart took him along. Well, as he was the only person who had actually been there he was made a great fuss of (quite rightly) and had a fantastic time. To mark the occasion many photos were taken, one of which Pete displayed on the wall. That meant dad enjoyed many more visits (to see his photo) until sadly he passed away two years ago. If you go to the Blacksmith Arms you will still see him wearing his medals, wishing he was having a pint too.
A group of CAMRA members visited the Norman crypt of St Mary’s church opposite for which Lastingham is famous – an eerie experience when one of them developed echoing hiccups!
On the way home we called at the Jolly Farmers at Leavening. Here, in front of another blazing fire, we enjoyed York Guzzler, Taylor’s Landlord, Hop Studio Porter and Kirkby Lonsdale Tiffin Gold.
Congratulations to the Blacksmiths Arms for making us leave the city walls. It’s a cliché, but it’s well worth seeking out this rather remote gem on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors.
A very good day out was had by all: I’m not sure if anyone tried all the beers, but we did our best! (SB, PB)