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Sun Inn, Main Street, Dent, SEDBERGH, LA10 5QL [Map]
This pub can perhaps best be described as a ‘beer cathedral’, and my good friend Jim and I went on a pilgrimage to it during the middle of the 2001 ‘Foot and Mouth’ outbreak, at a time when all but the most devoted country lover stayed at home well away from the disinfection mats and warning notices. We quickly discovered that all was not well with Dentdale, the dale in which the pub lies even though is had fortunately escaped the virus by the skin of its teeth. Even so, Dent, usually a bustling village had few visitors this Spring Bank Holiday weekend. A few tents could be seen dotted around the edge of our campsite at the western end of the village, the smell of disinfectant ever present in the air and nervous sheep peeking through the bars of a gate unawares that the dreadful virus lurked but a handful of miles away. The footpaths in the dale were all closed and we were forced to trek up the valley the 5 miles to Dent station to spend the day riding the Settle to Carlisle railway, stopping off for refreshment at the many towns and villages en route. I bought a cap in Langthwaite at the Eden Valley Mill made from local merino wool woven on the premises and this has since appeared on various pub outings and always serves as a reminder of this terrible time for the British livestock farming industry. The lady in the shop described the day when Foot and Mouth hit the village, the men from the ministry came and a convoy of sealed lorries carried the carcases away leaving an eerie silence hanging over the surrounding fields.
A farmer who we chatted to on our return from Dent station noted that we were the third ‘non local’ that he’d seen since the beginning of the outbreak and that his neighbour who ran a B&B business hadn’t had a single call all year for accommodation. He then went on to ask us if we were thirsty and recommended the “T’Owd Tup” for he’d had his fill - it could have been said with his hearty smile and red cheeks that he was “Tupped Up”. Our pilgrimage had brought us over 200 miles to drink the fine ales of Dent; including the Aviator, Kamikaze and Tup. These are perhaps some of the finest beers in the world and the Sun Inn, the brewery tap, is always full of satisfied customers consuming these fine Cumbrian (just) ales in the errr Yorkshire Dales... Most folk in the area believe the place to be in Yorkshire though modern local authority administrative boundaries show otherwise.
The Dent brewery was set up in 1990 behind the pub though has since been moved up the dale. The pub itself is welcoming with a distinctly traditional feel even before you’ve set foot on the premises with cobbled streets and whitewash covering the stonewalls. I’ve made a vague effort to enhance the traditional feel by donning my flat cap for the photo. I’m obviously also disguised as a British holidaymaker wearing the obligatory sandals and raincoat.
Anyhow, definitely a proper pub with the focal point of the premises being the bar with plenty of space to stand and sit and a coal fire to keep you warm in the winter. You’ll find the place full of locals and tourists at weekends and during the summer months, a non-smoking area to the left and pool table and jukebox towards the back. They’ll typically have 4 or 5 of the Dent beers available at any one time. Each is brewed with local spring water unlike all of the other beverages that they serve. If you don’t try the beers while you’re there you’ve really missed out. They’ve won all manner of awards for their ales, each beer is distinct and are really quite special.
They do food at lunchtimes and during the early evening. A fairly basic reasonably priced selection is available ranging from ploughmans to Cumberland sausage, with an interesting brie and courgette crumble for the vegetarians. If you can’t be bothered to wander back to your campsite or B&B etc. at the end of the night with your beer carry out or selection of Dent Brewery bottles (available at the bar) they offer their own B&B. It’s reasonably priced but as I was lacking on the job front at the time we plumped for the cheaper camping option with a classic fry-up in the morning (in the rain). By the way, if you like good British bacon free from the dreadful things that supermarkets put in them, take a trip to Appleby, head up the main shopping street and look out for the butchers with a dozen huge joints of meat in the window. One of those joint he’ll turn into bacon - quite the best bacon I’ve ever had.…
If you live in one of those dreadful new towns as I did at the time where ‘brand’ strength rules and blandness prevails, get yourself to the Sun and Dentdale for a real taste of England - truly great beer, great walking and sheep with big curly horns...…