When my mate Richard and I have a day out we take it in turns to choose the itinerary. He took it into his head he’d never been to Pateley Bridge, west of Ripon: in fact he had, as he realised when we got there, and it’s a delightful little town, the geographical centre of Nidderdale, with a few historic buildings and more to eat than you could possibly ever consume.
We had lunch at the Crown Hotel [http://www.nidderdale.co.uk/crownhotel], where the Persian lamb turned out to be Persian beef and was none the worse for the metamorphosis, though I wonder how many cows there are in what used to be Persia.
Richard’s wife Janet had asked him to bring her back “something interesting”, and we were spoiled for choice. At Kendall’s butchers [http://www.kendallsfarmbutchers.co.uk/Contact] he found pork, turkey, stuffing and apple pie (all in one pie, naturally), and I treated myself to the pork and blue cheese alternative. I’d have had the pork and mushy peas pies that we saw on our way up the hill, but by the time we came down again they’d all been snaffled.
Down the hill, at Weatherhead’s butchers [http://www.nidderdale.co.uk/weatherheads], I couldn’t resist the pork, chilli and chocolate sausages, the pork, spring onion and ginger burgers and a batch of chicken cushions with cream cheese and chorizo filling.
We admired the Oldest Sweetshop in England [http://www.oldestsweetshop.co.uk – the building dated 1661 and the shop founded in 1827 – but we didn’t indulge: Richard is an ex-dentist and I decided I’d done enough present and future damage to my waistline.
Pateley Bridge is bristling with red plaques pointing out the local history features, and the Nidderdale Museum is based in the former workhouse: http://www.nidderdalemuseum.com/index.asp. Neither of the two churches, the older, ruined St Mary’s or its 1825-7 replacement, St Cuthbert’s is remarkable; indeed, the most exciting building is the former Board School of 1875, now St Cuthbert’s Primary School, dominated by a tower bristling with turrets and gargoyles.
We chose to resist the temptation to visit the Old Bakehouse [8 High St – 01423 711189], though the piles of pastries looked well worth sampling, and drove across to Ripon to work up an appetite for tea.
There we fell upon the Wakeman’s House Café [http://www.ripon-internet.com/local-businesses/858/the-wakemans-house-cafe.html] where we calculated it’d take a fortnight to get through the cake cabinet.
I completed my Christmas shopping at Drinkswell [http://www.drinkswell.co.uk], which stocks every imaginable sort of alcohol from bottles of quality beer to malt whisky at silly prices. I chose three-packs of beer.
To end the day we wandered around Ripon Cathedral [http://www.riponcathedral.org.uk] in the dusk – quiet, welcoming, virtually empty and beautifully lit.