• The Curious Traveler

Castles & Pubs of Northern England

It’s a coin toss which is the more iconic image of England—a windswept ancient castle, or Brits enjoying a pint at a traditional pub. Fortunately for visitors, you don’t have to choose between them, and they pair beautifully. Hikers on our England: Hiking Coast to Coast tour will venture over hill and dale as they make their way across the country, with plenty of opportunities to take in the history or drop into a pub along the way.

While by no means exhaustive, this post is meant to highlight a few of the stops that might enliven your journey.

A pint sits on the bar with fire in the background

The Bank Tavern, Keswick

After working up a thirst on your first two days of hiking, the market town of Keswick affords plenty of drinking and dining options for the curious traveler. The Bank Tavern is one popular choice. where you’ll find an authentic “Taste of the Lake District.” Try the local beers from Jennings brewery, made with water from the well at Cockermouth Castle. If you’re having more than one, a carefully curated of selection of brews from the broader region can round out the menu. Whatever you choose, you’re bound to enjoy the classic-but-unpretentious feel of this traditional pub.

The White Hart Inn, Hawes

The tour itinerary affords two nights in Hawes, and while you’re there the centrally located White Hart Inn might just draw you in with its promise of farm-fresh meals and local cask ales. From the cobbled stone streets outside to the soothing wood-paneled walls of the former coaching inn, here you’ll find a quintessentially British experience delivered with exceptional taste.

Richmond Castle, seen through trees

Richmond Castle + The Castle Tavern

Built in the 11th century, expanded in 12th, and falling to ruin by the 16th, it’s safe to say Richmond Castle has a long and storied history. In fact, it’s considered perhaps the best example of an early Norman castle, and reflects a critical period in Britain’s history. It has been carefully restored so that visitors can appreciate its historic significance—and take in a commanding view of the Yorkshire Dales, while they’re at it. Its name is derived from Riche Mount, which gives an indication of its grand location.

It was in active service as recently as World War I, when it was used as a base for conscientious objectors. The legends surrounding the castle are of a much older vintage: the story goes that King Arthur and his knights slumber in a cave beneath the castle, waiting for the hour of direst need to rise again and defend Britain.

If you’d like to ponder history and legends over a pint afterward, the nearby Castle Tavern is a great choice. They offer local food and their own micro-brewed ales in a cozy traditional setting.

Rievaulx Abbey, Helmsley

The Helmsley area is positively packed with history, as the Rievaulx Abbey is a short distance from Helmsley Castle. Our itinerary typically visits the abbey first, where you’ll learn about the twelfth-century monks who lived in seclusion, growing their isolated abbey into one of the most prosperous in England until bad luck and the Black Death laid them low. The history adds still more depth to the abbey’s impressive arches and old stone walls.

Helmsley Castle + The Black Swan, Helmsley

Overlooking the River Rye, the imposing ruin of Helmsley Castle’s East Tower immediately conjures up visions of medieval knights errant and moody green moors. Though it was deliberately damaged for tactical reasons during the English Civil War in the 17th century, the castle retains a well-preserved Tudor-era mansion on its grounds as well as romantic older ruins.

Once you’re ready to return to the modern world, Helmsley Market brings bustling commerce to the ancient town square in nearby Helmsley. If you’re lucky enough to visit on a Friday you’ll catch it in full swing. If the market’s not operating, you can still find plenty of pubs and tea rooms around Helmsley. The Black Swan overlooks the market square, and has its own substantial history—try the walled garden in summer, or sit by the crackling fire in traditional English style when you need to warm up.

Goathland Tea Rooms, Goathland

By the time you reach Goathland on Day 8 you’ll have already stopped in at Blakey Ridge, a 16th century traditional pub, and might be ready to take a short break from pints. If there’s time left in the day, give the Goathland Tea Rooms a try. Cask ales might be characteristically British, but nothing beats tea as the national beverage. Friendly service and Yorkshire cream tea will both make you feel the warmth of English hospitality.

Whitby Abbey + The Fleece, Whitby

As your trip draws to a close, Whitby Abbey might just provide a suitably grand finale to your trip. Overlooking the North Sea, this 7th century monastery has long been a landmark for sailors. If you’ve read Bram Stoker’s Dracula, you might also be familiar with the 199 steps that lead up to the abbey.

If you do decide to make the climb, reward yourself with a final pint on the town. The Fleece is an excellent choice, where live music, quality ale, and casual conversation encapsulates so much of what’s great about English culture.

View the England: Hiking Coast to Coast tour here.

If you’ve enjoyed reading and are inspired to join us or have questions about the adventures featured in this post, please give us a call at 1-800-941-8010 or send us an email at info@boundlessjourneys.com.


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