The Tan Hill Inn is gloriously located at 1732 feet (528 metres) in the Pennines, and is the highest pub in Britain (photos 1 & 2). It’s famously cut off by winter snows and and the story goes that in the big freeze of 1963 the landlord wished a shepherd a Happy New Year in April. In more recent times heavy snow closed the pub for five days in March 2013 and in November 2021 an Oasis tribute band plus 60 guests were trapped for three days. The Tan Hill has its own snow plough and also a snow tractor sponsored by Theakstons Brewery (photo 3).
The main part of the pub dates from the 1700s and was probably built to serve coal miners from nearby pits on the fells, along with shepherds and drovers. It has thick stone walls, flagstone floors and an open fire, often burning into the summer months. It’s a welcome stop for walkers on the Pennine Way footpath after the long walk from Thwaite in Swaledale. It’s also popular with cyclists, and tourists who drive up to admire the views and to just say they have been there. It’s increasingly popular with owners of motorhomes and campervans, myself included, and in summer they will be probably blocking the view of the pub in photo 1.
An extension at the back is now a live music venue and the pub has impressively hosted big name bands like Scouting for Girls, the Arctic Monkeys and Big Country.
The Tan Hill has appeared on TV many times, most famously in an advert for Everest double glazing in the 1980s and again in 2008. It was also visited by James May and Oz Clark in an episode of Oz and James drink to Britain in 2009. In January 2020 it featured in an episode of Vera about the north eastern detective. And according to local newspaper Richmondshire Today, it has also featured in The Inspector Lindley Mysteries, Murder in Mind, Top Gear, The Fast Show, Wish You Were Here, All Creatures Great and Small, Jude the Obscure and an advert for Vodafone.
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