When Sebastian and I knew that we would be going to England, I immediately made a mental list of places that I wanted to show him. The Blakey or as it’s more commonly known The Lion Inn, is a freehouse which has sat on Blakey Ridge, the highest point of the North Yorkshire Moors (1,325 feet) since 1553 when it was built by monks who had the unenviable job of carrying coffins across the moors to Whitby Abbey.
In winter, the pub is frequently cut off from the rest of the world. In 2010 there was a lock-in which lasted nine days before the snow plough was able to make it through the drifts. Nowadays, when the weather turns, people from miles around make the journey to The Blakey, hoping that they’ll have the opportunity to bed down in the bar.
I went to school in the valley below Blakey Ridge, and quickly came to know The Blakey as the local (for the teachers especially). I was eight when I sat behind it’s thick stone walls and ate, for the first time, one of their colossal Yorkshire Puddings, and found myself judging it against my Nanna’s Yorkshires. I was smitten with the ancient stone fireplace and the low beams. The cosiness settled in me and never left.
It was dark, true dark on the moors as – like the monks centuries ago albeit in a car – Sebastian, my parents and I made our journey from Whitby to The Blakey. I felt a shiver thread up my spine as we made our ascent to the ridge. I felt like I was returning to an old friend. It had been several years since I’d visited, but following a short, cold march from the carpark I quickly discovered the ambience of the place was just as I remembered it. Some would say it’s ‘The Slaughtered Lamb all over again,’ I say it’s ‘the Yorkshire I know and love.’
Within a few minutes of us arriving, my parents got talking with a local who happened to live down the road from us 20 odd years ago, and whom let us know that my Dad’s old boss from the dairy he’d worked at when I was born had recently died…that’s Yorkshire for you!
My Dad recommend Sebastian to try Old Peculiar, one of England’s most cherished ales which has a fascinating history behind it. I’ve never seen him relish a drink quite like this one. We sat close to the fireplace, our backs to one of the deep set windows, and talked about the past. The Blakey does that to you. It makes you want to go back to when life was simpler.
Sadly we left just as the bar man was building up the fire. Next time I think we’ll take a room for the night. I’d hope to hear the chanting of spectral monks as they make their way with coffins across to the desolate landscape to the sea.