The Cross Keys – 2012

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Night Reviewed: Tuesday

It was time to make another trip to this slightly out of the way boozer, situated opposite Skipton Police Station.

As we entered we soon realised that we were the only punters on this dark, cold winter evening. The curtains were all closed and most of one half of the pub was in darkness, save for the illumination provided by the giant screen, upon which Eastenders was being projected with the volume on full blast…….it appeared we were interrupting the TV viewing of the bar lady.

To be fair though, if there’s no customers, why sit twiddling your thumbs when you can watch a giant, sweaty, High Definition version of Phil Mitchell? After a couple of other drinkers arrived, the TV went off and the pub was returned to silence.

As for the rest of the pub, the Tetleys wasn’t too bad and the decor was unchanged from last years review.

We noted that the open fire and resident pub cat both gave the pub a more homely feel, but overall there’s not a great deal else to report from this one.

Scores

Beer Choice (1 – 5): 1
Beer Quality (1 – 10): 7
Service (1 – 5): 5
Atmosphere (1 – 10): 2.5
Décor (1 – 5): 3

TOTAL: 18.5 (out of 35)

 

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The Fleece – 2012

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Night Reviewed: Tuesday

This place was a strange one last time – an odd mix of decor styles and some pretty rank toilets were the main points of interest, so how did it do this time you ask?

Things started off OK – we were served pretty quickly and our pints of Black Sheep were topped up without us having to ask.

We took some seats in the red velvet area which we have mentioned previously and began to cast our eye around. The odd local ‘character’ drinking at the bar, a couple of lasses enjoying a mid week catch up, and a couple of lads playing pool down the other end of the pub.

All seemed quite pleasant – except it wasn’t – it just felt like the atmosphere had been sucked into a black hole. Then, one of the lasses decided to put some tunes on the jukebox. “Great!” we thought – a but of music to liven things up.

What followed was 3 tracks of the most appalling ear splitting Euro Trance music at a ridiculously high volume for a normal week night.

The atmosphere went from morgue to Prince Harry’s bedroom in the space of a few minutes. That, and combined with the decor, ensured we were only a metal pole and a few naked ladies away from being in a Skipton Stringfellows.

We decided that the more we sat there and looked around, the stranger this pub got. Be it the pink picture frames or the odd mishmash of traditional and ultra modern plush decor. It’s just a bit odd.

We’re sure it’s loved equally by regulars and bus passengers quenching a thirst heading to/from to the bus station next door, but we just can’t put our finger on it – we’ve never felt comfortable in here.

Scores

Beer Choice (1 – 5): 1.5
Beer Quality (1 – 10): 6
Service (1 – 5): 4
Atmosphere (1 – 10): 4
Décor (1 – 5): 3

TOTAL: 18.5 (out of 35)

The Railway – 2012

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Night Reviewed: Tuesday

We returned to this traditional little boozer to give it the once over, without knowing what to expect.

Our previous visit had left us pleasantly surprised at what we found, and this time around the experience was no different.

It appeared as if the place had been given a lick of paint, a tidy up and that some of the excessive wall hangings had been removed.

The service was excellent and the pint of Tetleys was in fine form.

One observation we made though was that the TV is clearly the general focus of this pub – most customers seemed to just sit and watch it, which gives you the feeling like you’ve stepped into someone elses living room.

Generally though – still an OK little pub popular with regular locals, but not one of Skipton’s best.

Scores

Beer Choice (1 – 5): 1
Beer Quality (1 – 10): 9
Service (1 – 5): 4
Atmosphere (1 – 10): 5
Décor (1 – 5): 3

TOTAL: 22 (out of 35)

The Red Lion – 2012

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Night Reviewed: Tuesday

This pub rated surprisingly well in our 2011 review, however unfortunately the novelty has now worn off.

At first glance, all was well. The pub was busy for a Tuesday, again full of people drinking, eating and watching the football on the TV.

The beer choice seems very generous at first, until you realise that all but one ale (Old Speckled Hen – Morland Brewery) is brewed by Greene King – not surprising though when you consider they own the place. It then seems even less generous when you further remember that Old Speckled Hen is now also brewed by Greene King! Therefore unless you’re a fan of Greene King ales, there isn’t a great deal of choice on offer, despite several pumps on display. At least one regional or local ale wouldn’t have gone amiss sureley?

We plumped for ‘Red Lion’ 3.9% (a very average ‘best’ bitter brewed by GK to market under the name of whichever pub is serving it – or so it would seem), and a pint of ‘St Edmunds’ at 4.2%. The house ale didn’t go down well at all with one half of our duo, and the St Edmunds took a few sips beore it started to become a decent pint – very hoppy and citrussy – not too bad as it turned out. The overall qualioty though wasn’t half as good as last time, nor as good as some of the other inns we’ve reviewed recently.

This pub does have character and some original features, so it isn’t all bad news. However this does include some low ceilings – which we found out to our cost. We both managed to crack our heads as we made our way in/out of ‘the snug’ area. It does have ‘Duck or Grouse’ written overhead – all very amusing until you miss it and walk full-on into the wall – we both did exactly the same, and I recall my father doing the same thing recently too – the black-on-white comedy warning lettering clearly doesn’t stand out as well as it should do!

All in all, our initial surprise and delight last year at finding this pub to be in decent form possibly fuelled our generosity somewhat and combined with the resurgence of some of the smaller and less commercialised pubs in town, we feel this review now reflects the inn and it’s status within the town more accurately.

Scores

Beer Choice (1 – 5): 4
Beer Quality (1 – 10): 3
Service (1 – 5): 3
Atmosphere (1 – 10): 7
Décor (1 – 5): 4

TOTAL: 21 (out of 35)

 

The Cock & Bottle – 2012

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Night Reviewed: Tuesday

We promised we’d come back here and give them another chance following an unexpected disappointing review, and we’ve been true to our word.

We are very glad we did, as this visit was a pleasure. We were immediately greeted by the friendly bar man and set about choosing from the good selection of ales on offer. We plumped for a pint of Goose Eye Brewery Best Bitter and a pint of Ilkley Best.

This time the beer quality was excellent – kept perfectly and very tasty indeed. The atmosphere was great for a Tuesday evening – it was quite busy and some decent music was playing in the background.

There was also a dog in attendance – and a pub which allows dogs is ok with us (and for fans of dogs in pubs you may want to head over to here when you’ve done reading our blog: http://dogsinpubs.com/).

There was also a sign advertising live music – this is one thing many pubs in Skipton lack, so this is a welcome change. It looks like there’s a new food menu too, so well worth giving that a try if you find yourselves here.

This pub has always rated very highly for us, so we are very glad to see that it’s back on form. Our only gripe this time around is the chalk board in the loos has disappeared – but we aren’t rating the bogs this time so we’ll let that one slide ;-).

Warm atmosphere, original features, friendly service and good beer. Everything a good pub needs.

Great news all round.

Scores

Beer Choice (1 – 5): 4
Beer Quality (1 – 10): 8
Service (1 – 5): 5
Atmosphere (1 – 10): 8
Décor (1 – 5): 4

TOTAL: 29 (out of 35)

The Castle Inn – 2012

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Night Reviewed: Thursday

We had received a tweet inviting us back to the Castle (now renamed as The Castle Inn) to do another review following their refurbishment. It would be rude to ignore such a request, so we returned incognito to investigate (we are not by any means adverse to being offered free beer if anyone wants to – hint, hint! – but only after we’ve completed an impartial review).

It turned out that they were right to suggest that things have changed as, STOP PRESS, we have a new leader! Well, actually we have a joint leader, but who would have thought any pub would be able to challenge the Narrowboat’s lead.

We sampled Theakston’s Lightfoot, Marston’s 5 Hops and Holt’s Humdinger, all of which were good, although the Humdinger (a honey beer) wasn’t a favourite.

The décor can’t be faulted, it has great character and it has been redecorated very well. The bar is tidy and welcoming and the atmosphere is generally very friendly. It’s obviously an old building so it’s really great that it’s been given a new lease of life.

In a nutshell it looks like a good pub should do. It could only have been improved by a roaring open fire, but given that Skipton is a smokeless zone, that isn’t going to happen! The pub has a warm feel about it though, so that will have to do.

We also noted last time around that the toilets were in need of some attention – these have also been completely refurbished, and if we were giving points for them this time around they’d have got a maximum score too.

Since it’s refurbishment the pub now does food, which looks like hearty pub grub (steaks, gammon etc.) and has a choice of four vegetarian options too – which is good.

Skiptonites have already realised it’s new status as a top quality pub. The outside seating area has been packed whenever the weather has been good enough, and during our visit it was generally busy with a pleasant buzz around the bar.

They also have a shiny new and very informative website (the history section puts our knowledge of Skipton and it’s pubs to shame!) – one of the few pubs in the town to embrace the digital age so far: http://www.castleinnskipton.co.uk/

A great job all round, and we’ll certainly be back in very soon.

Scores

Beer Choice (1 – 5): 5
Beer Quality (1 – 10): 9
Service (1 – 5): 5
Atmosphere (1 – 10): 10
Décor (1 – 5): 5

TOTAL: 34 (out of 35)

The Royal Shepherd – 2012

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Night Reviewed: Thursday

This pub has changed hands since our last review, the behind time clocks and aerial photographs have disappeared from the walls, to be replaced by more waterways based décor which fits in with it’s location on the canal.

This change may also have resulted in a new clientele, as the inside of the pub was busier than the outside which was also a change from last time.

Beers on offer when we visited were Timothy Taylors Landlord, Copper Dragon Best and Copper Dragon Golden Pippin. All good beers in our humble opinion and they were in good condition.

It is a cosy pub with nice décor and a nice feel about it. The music was good and friendly staff.

All round a nice little boozer.

The Royal Shepherd Door Plaque
The Royal Shepherd Door Plaque

Oh, if anyone had any information on the history behind the interesting plaque which is displayed on their door, we’d love to know more about it.

Scores

Beer Choice (1 – 5): 4
Beer Quality (1 – 10): 8
Service (1 – 5): 5
Atmosphere (1 – 10): 7
Décor (1 – 5): 4

TOTAL: 28 (out of 35