As a Yorkshireman, I have pretty much seen all of the Dales, but a few undiscovered sections remain.

Among them is Malham, just north of Skipton, noted for its Cove and Tarn, a mecca for hikers and sightseers.

Having recently enjoyed a stay in Daniel Thwaites’ refurbished Middletons Hotel in York, an offer of a night at the Lister Arms in Malham was not to be refused.

Driving from Harrogate, I decided to take routes less travelled, at least by me, avoiding the A59 and instead headed up the A61 to Ripley and then the B6165 through Nidderdale towards Pateley Bridge.

York Press: A feature bedroom in The Barn

Smaller, single-track roads followed across Upper Nidderdale, to Coverdale, Kettlewell, Arncliffe and then on to Malham.

Warm June sun blazed down, sheep and cattle grazed happily on the hillsides, I passed lonely farmhouses and hamlets and all was good with the world, though on these narrow tracks, cyclists and vehicles coming towards you can be a menace.

Malham was throbbing with visitors, so I drove a little further for a tasty and filling cheese sandwich and pint of Old Peculiar at The Victoria in Kirby Malham.

Soon it was check-in time for the Lister Arms, and having driven for several hours on one of the warmest days of the year, I was ready for a lie-down.

I was staying in the Barn, an offshoot of the 17th Century Coaching two-minutes walk from it.


The barn features eight spacious bedrooms, with shining and luxurious bathrooms and White Company toiletries.

York Press: The interior of The Barn

The barn also has communal areas, with a lounge area, log burner, large table, boot room, small kitchen, and even a dog wash at the front door.

After making a coffee and using the excellent wi-fi, I then explored the village, calling at the visitor centre, walking through a delightful, wooded glade that said it was up for sale.

I enjoyed an ice cream from a shop and a pleasant cider from a relatively basic Buck Inn.

Though touristy, Malham is pretty but not prettified. It remains authentically rural and is still a ‘proper’ working village.

After a shower, I then headed across a stream to the characterful pub, which has a sprawling terrace outside, which was busy on the pleasant warm night.

No fire was needed in the snug rooms inside and some diners asked to eat outside instead, though I was happy to remain in the restaurant.

The bar had a fine range of cask ales but I went for a bottle of Australian shiraz that was smooth and fruity.

York Press: A warm evening is enjoyed by many

I started with the tandoori chicken and vegetable skewer, which was a tasty delight.

I could have had one of the pies the Lister Arms is famous for, but instead, I settled for the grilled rib eye steak, which was flavoursome and tender.

Though the warm chocolate brownie could have been warmer, it finished off the meal beautifully, coupled with the Lister Arms’ own gin.

Back at the barn I was asleep in minutes, enjoying my best sleep in ages, helped by a fine meal, a comfy bed, curtains that black out the daylight, and though by a road, the rooms are set back enough to be extremely quiet.

Breakfast was another treat, with the Full English that followed setting me up for the day.

I was able to leave the car in the Barn’s own car park a little longer and walk the mile or so to Malham Cove.

York Press: A pint and a pie at the Lister Arms

The paths were busy and passed fields full of sheep and wildflowers, largely following a stream.

Had I been younger and fitter and might have joined the crowds climbing up to the top. But though it was only mid-morning, the weather was already hot, so I stayed below, gazing upwards at the rockface and the housemartins nesting in the rocks.

I returned to the car and set off to see nearby Malham Tarn, able to park a short walk away, amid the barren moors. A pleasant, short walk followed and then it was back to the car for the return leg.

I drove across bleak moorland on more single-track roads before dropping onto a relatively wide B6479, which seemed motorway-like by comparison.

Then, it was up Ribblesdale, passing through a Hawes packed with summer bikers, and onto Buttertubs Pass, followed by hamlets in the middle of nowhere.

I then called in at a busy Tan Hill Inn for a pint, where a snowplough was parked outside in the 25c heat.

Though 2pm, I was still full from breakfast, but I vowed to return one day to Britain’s highest public house, perhaps when I can be snowed in, as the pub is famous for.

Then, it was Arkengarthdale, and onto Leyburn, then Malham, with the Dales increasingly lush, green and fertile. I then had a final stop off for a few treats at Booths supermarket in Ripon, which topped off a fine weekend.

York Press: The scenic walk to Malham Cove

On reflection, Masham is a fine destination, well worth the drive to, whatever the time of year.

You can also see why the Lister Arms was voted Yorkshire’s Favourite Pub in 2019.

Indeed, with my stay following on so soon after an excellent stay at Middletons in York, it is clear Daniel Thwaites sets and achieves consistently high standards at all their venues, which also retain individuality and character, whilst avoiding a corporate blandness. No doubt, they will all deliver an enjoyable stay too.

For details and to book, go to: Home - Lister Arms