If you were writing a guide book for the Yorkshire Dales you would probably describe the Farmers Arms at Muker as a “traditional Dales pub”.
Real ales, stone floors, fire in summer, standard. But back in traditional times the pubs didn’t do much food and the majority of the customers lived locally. Now, like many pub in the Dales, the pub prospers because of visitors. And when we called in we were visitors too, even though we live just over the hill, as we were camping up the road at Usha Gap.
When you’re camping you have to contend with the noise of strangers’ bodily functions, midges, the risk of bear attack (or so I tell the petrified children to make them lay still and be quiet) and other things that make life less than comfortable, so the last thing you want to worry about is whether you will eat that night or not.
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The Farmers Arms knows this and has a refreshing policy that you can’t book but you will get fed if you can find a seat. Even if you can’t I’m sure they would accommodate you.
The last thing you want after you’ve trekked for miles along the Coast to Coast or Pennine Way, both of which pass the pub, is to be told you will have to make do with a bag of crisps.
You want hot food, served in decent portions and served quickly. And in our experience the Farmers, as it’s probably never been called, gets the food out damn quickly.
We had barely started our game of dominoes with the kids when the food arrived. We had explained the rules a couple of times, divided them up after arguing whether you just get six each or they all get shared out, and then there it came. Super.
I’d like to see the doms test become the standard way of measuring service time in restaurants.
I can imagine Giles Coren of The Times complaining on a visit to the Dorchester that his party had time to play three games among the silver cutlery before the starters of seared duck foie gras arrived.
Anyway, it arrived quick and we were grateful for that. It’s not posh nosh at the Farmers’ – pies, gammon, curries, steak, stews, fish and chips – but if we were wanting a fine dining experience we wouldn’t be sleeping in a field.
Quick, filling, hot food, washed down with some of Masham’s finest. When you add the friendly service and agreeable atmosphere created by people tired from the trail but very contented, it’s a very pleasant place to spend an evening. And I even beat the kids at doms.