DESPITE being only a mile or so from Europe’s biggest Army base, Colburn Village feels surprisingly rural – the lane into the village is single track and very muddy, with even a picture-postcard ford to drive through.

About 10,000 soldiers live in barracks and homes at Catterick Garrison across the fields, and the surrounding area is rapidly expanding, with new homes popping up all the time, but in the tiny hamlet you could easily be tucked away in a corner of the nearby Yorkshire Dales, Neither myself nor my wife, Sarah, had been to the village or its pub The Hildyard Arms, before, despite both of us being from the area.

But the visit was not quite a stab in the dark – landlady Fiona Stephenson has previously run a number of local pubs, including the Foresters, in Carlton, and the Three Horseshoes, in Wensley, both near Leyburn.

She and partner Dave Nicholson were brought in by long-term leaseholders, The Richmond Brewing Company, towards the end of last year, as the pub was undergoing a major renovation. What was reportedly a run-down and old fashioned pub is now bright, light and airy with modern pastel green and cream walls meeting stone-flagged and wooden floors throughout. It still has the feel of a country pub, although a country pub for the 21st Century.

We sat in the main dining room in the large bay window. The pub was busy, but there was still plenty of space for the toddler to potter about between courses.

The Sunday lunch menu was not huge, but very adequate, with three roasts on offer, plus a variety of other options, including pork and pear pie, duck confit, and haddock and chips.

There was no children’s menu – meaning the six-year-old missed out on his obligatory chicken nuggets and chips – but all main dishes could be served as a half portion.

The roast beef was excellent – tender meat, large Yorkshire puddings, fluffy roast potatoes and creamy mash. The portions were so big that they barely fitted on the plates even before the vegetables – a selection of baby carrots, red cabbage and broccoli – were added.

The dish came with gravy added already and we did ask for extra, although the waitress forgot.

The pub only started serving food on Valentine’s Day and it was possible they were still getting up to speed with service, although our food came out quickly and piping hot – and staff were extremely welcoming and friendly.

A couple of the kids went for the haddock and chips, which they were very happy with.

The chips were home-made and the dish was served with a big portion of mushy peas.

For dessert, most of the family went for the Eton mess, and, judging by the silence followed by bowl-scraping, it was excellent. My cheese and biscuits was also good, with great big chunks of four different cheeses.

For the six of us, the bill came to under £85, which included two good pints of Daleside Blonde and eight soft drinks. Roast dinners were £8.95, which we thought was particularly good value.

Speaking afterwards, the landlady told us about their plans to build a reputation for food with residents of nearby Catterick and Colburn, as well as taking advantage of the pub’s position beside the Coast-to-Coast route. Free camping is available to walkers and plans for an outbuilding to be converted into a shower block are being drawn up.

Given that it’s an attractive and friendly country pub which serves excellent food, it’s difficult to see how they can fail to be a great success.

Food facts

The Hildyard Arms, Colburn Village,
Catterick Garrison,
North Yorkshire, DL9 4PD
Tel: 01748-832353.

Ambience: 4/5
Quality of food: 4/5
Service: 3/5
Value for money: 4/5