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White Lion Inn, Cray, SKIPTON, BD23 5JB [Map]
The pub's an old drovers hostelry and it's the highest pub in Wharfedale as it's about half way up Buckden Pike and quite often it'll be above the snow line during the cold dark winter months. I stayed there over Christmas in 1996 and whereas most of Wharfedale didn't see a flake of snow on Christmas day, the White Lion had a good couple of inches on the ground. I can recommend their Christmas breaks and if you venture outside the fire in the main bar will quickly warm you through upon your return.
The pub's very easy to find. Just follow the B6160 north of Skipton along Wharfedale and you'll eventually come across it on the left had side of the road in the tiny hamlet of Cray a mile or two beyond the village of Buckden where the local bus now terminates. It's useful service if you fancy a linear from Kettlewell or Kilnsey following the Dales way or via Buckden Pike.
B&B here is good value for money as they run a '3 nights for the price of 2' offer and you do get a very generous breakfast if you can stomach it after a night on the Moorhouse's Pendle Witches Brew (abv 5.1%, full-bodied, very sweet and malty) - the beer that drew me to the pub in the first place. After a few pints of that hefty brew you might start to see the besom suspended from the ceiling in the main bar start to twitch. Kevin and Dee, who took over running the pub from Frank and Barbara in 2002, have further expanded the range of beers available and are always open to suggestions if you have a particular favourite. They also do a good selection of lunchtime and evening meals too including a tasty trout dish, the fish coming from the Kilnsey trout farm a few miles down the road.
Do make sure that you take a torch with you if it's a cold, dark, windy winters night as if the lights flicker more than 3 times you could be plunged into darkness, the room lit only by the roaring fire.
It's very simply furnished with flagstone floors and wooden chairs around tables. If the weather's favourable you can always wander outside and sit there as there are fine views of Wharfedale. Oh, and if you've time, have a go at their Ring O' Bull game. It's harder than you might at first think!
Well worth reading is a fascinating account written by Richard Fusniak whose father, Joe, was saved by the inn keeper of the White Lion Inn in 1942. His plane crashed near the summit of Buckden Pike in a snowstorm and badly injured he followed the footsteps of a fox down the hill. Later his cries for help were heard by the landlord's daughter who fetched her father and they took him into the pub to safety. Click here for a link to the site.
The pub now have a website athttp://www.whitelioncray.com/.