ASKRIGG is always busy. Wherever you go, you can see the bobble hats of walkers bobbing among the dry stone walls as they enjoy the flat pastures along the dale bottoms or energetically tackle the steep rises of the dale sides that lead to heavenly views.

And wherever you stop and stand, you can hear the distant roar of motorbike engines as their riders accelerate through the challenge of the lanes.

I can’t really complain. After our walk, I drove up to Cross Tops where there’s a little layby looking over the heavenly view to Addlebrough and Semerwater. A couple on the bench glowered at me for breaking their silence, so I turned off the car engine. A few seconds later, they turned round and glowered some more – but I couldn’t bear to turn off the noisy car radio as well because the tennis from Australia was terrifically exciting and, in India, England’s cricketers were doing extraordinary things in the First Test.

The Northern Echo: A view from the north side of the dale looking towards AskriggA view from the north side of the dale looking towards Askrigg

Instead, we rolled down the daleside into Askrigg.

It was, as always, busy.

Even in late January, the benches outside the Bakewell café were full as hardy hikers tucked into sandwiches, and we’ve never managed to get a seat for a Sunday lunch at the King’s Arms Hotel when we’ve just walked in on spec.


The Northern Echo: The White Rose Hotel, Askrigg

Over the road is the White Rose Hotel (above). It has a big bar at the front, with a television for the tennis score, and at the rear, a restaurant (below) with plenty of tables for a walk-in lunch.

The Northern Echo: The restaurant at the White Rose Hotel, Askrigg

We recognised the young proprietor from his days at the Croft Hotel, on the outskirts of Darlington, and learned that he had taken over the Rose a few months earlier. He’s putting a new stamp on it, and in the fortnight it has taken to get this review into print, he’s closed for redecoration and has reopened with a party.

There were starters available – chicken goujons, prawn cocktail, pea and mint fritters – for between £7.50 and £8.50, but we went for the Sunday mains.

Surprisingly, there were only two roasts – beef and belly pork – and four less meaty options: scampi, fish and chips, Mediterranean Vegetable Penne Pasta and Mushroom, Brie and Cranberry Wellington.

The Northern Echo: Theo's fish and chips

Theo, our son, chose the fish and chips (priced at £15.95 on the menu but the bill said we were charged £16.50) (above). A big portion, nice white fish, good chips, a bowl of garden peas plus, unusually, a salad of cucumber, rocket and peppers. Even if the peas did roll all over the place, he enjoyed it all.

The Northern Echo: Roast beef

Petra, my wife, chose the roast beef (above) while I went for the belly pork – both £14.95 which, in these days of rampant inflation, is probably a quid on the cheap side.

Both came with a good Yorkshire on top, dollops of mashed swede and very nice potato, and roasties that probably should have gone to bed a little earlier as they were a bit tired.

The Northern Echo: The vegetable accompaniments with two roast dinners, including red cabbage and great gravy

There was oodles of veg on the side: broccoli, cabbage and carrots, plus a bowl of red cabbage (above). Personally, I cannot see why you would adulterate your traditional Sunday Englishness with the sweet sharpness of red cabbage – it glowers at you from the plate, about as welcome as a noisy car at a daletop viewing spot. Petra disagrees, and thought this red cabbage was very good.

She had plenty of high quality and excellently cooked beef on her plate, while I had a great length – longer than Theo’s fish – of belly pork. It was like a wall of white meat capped by a coping of crackling (below).

The Northern Echo: My wall of roast belly pork with a coping of crackling on top

I could have done with a proper steak knife to slice it, but that is a minor quibble, because it was fantastic – sorry, there was nearly an alliterative word for emphasis before the fantastic there.

The meat was delicious. It avoided the peril of pork which has a tendency to blandness, and had a gentle, easy-eating porkiness which contrasted magnificently with the crackling.

After an unfortunate incident when I lost a tooth tackling some crackling some years ago, I avoid it at all costs, but this was crackling was different. This crackling was cracking. It was crispy, not concrete, and it yielded easily to the teeth while still retaining its crunchiness.

And it packed a powerful, exhilarating, almost addictive, salty punch. After each mouthful, I just wanted the next.

It was helped by the gravy, a proper meaty gravy, not some watery granule-based stuff. Some places would have served it as a broth, so once I was through with my meat, I scooped it off my plate using Theo’s dessert spoon in a pathetic bid to avoid the blame for a lack of etiquette.

Desserts were £6.95. For the first time ever outside the 12 days of yuletide, there was Christmas Pudding with brandy sauce on the menu. Why not? If it’s good enough for the most important meal of the year, it must be good enough for any month. I’d happily eat an Easter egg in any season, and shops are increasingly pandering to my desires.

Sadly, the Christmas Pudding was off. Run out.


I had sticky toffee pudding with ice cream. Theo had chocolate brownie with custard. Petra had baked vanilla cheesecake.

The Northern Echo: The White Rose Hotel, AskriggAbove: Vanilla cheesecake. Below: Sticky toffee pudding

The Northern Echo: Sticky toffee puddingThe Northern Echo: Theo's chocolate brownie with his choice of accompaniment, custardTheo's chocolate brownie with his choice of accompaniment, custard

They were perfectly adequate sweet endings, but didn’t scale the heights of my pork.

Our bill came to £80 and I reckon as word gets round and Askrigg gets really busy in the summer, we soon won’t be able to walk in off the street and get a table here.

The Northern Echo: The White Rose Hotel, Askrigg

White Rose Hotel,
Main St,

Tel: 01969 650515


Surroundings: 7
Service: 8
Food quality: 8
Value for money: 8.