Hakuna Matata at Tan Hill Inn – An Escape

Earlier on in January, I travelled up to North Yorkshire to stay at the highest pub in England, Tan Hill Inn.

I didn’t know much about what was happening this weekend starting Friday, 9th January, and the main reason I went was to celebrate a good friend’s birthday and see a few bands. It turns out this little gathering of musicians and friends, dubbed Hakuna Matata, was all to raise money for a good cause; WaterAid.

During the week before, I had heard a lot of snow had fallen around this remote pub, and I was tempted to take a snowboard along. I am glad I didn’t, as most of the snow had gone by the weekend, but plenty was still left to do some sledging.

It is a great drive up a winding, empty and rustic country road. During the day, this final stretch to Tan Hill Inn is picturesque, and at night the darkness makes the drive dangerous, in a good way.

The pub itself is just what you would expect from the country’s highest drinking establishment. The weather, especially this time of year, is unforgiving, and the warmth of the open fire is a welcome relief. Everyone is friendly, laid back and trusting – it was not unusual to pour your own beer behind the bar.

The pub itself is surrounded by expansive scenic views of the Yorkshire Dales. Animals flock from all around, and you regularly see a sheep or a couple of chickens sharing the open fire with the drinkers.

On Friday night, the musicians set up in the converted barn and around 8pm, it all started. An excellent performance with fantastic vocals from the young band The Scarlett Ferrets got everyone in the mood.

The night followed on with a great performance from the fairly new outfit Out the Back Room. More great musicians followed with top performances from Dids, Troubadour and The Monkey Wrenchers.

It was a great atmosphere throughout the night, and the party carried on right through to the early morning hours with plenty of drinking, dancing and acoustic guitar.

Saturday started tentatively with breakfast at 9am before going back to bed. The afternoon was spent sledging, drinking by the fire and competing on the bull ring – a solid metal ring on the end of a length of string attached to the ceiling. The aim is to swing the ring to make it land on a hook, which is placed above a door frame.

A few random games, including an egg & spoon race tournament, helped raise over £150 for WaterAid. A big effort from Andy “Midge” Clarke and the team at Tan Hill made all this possible.

Saturday night went the same way as Friday, with bands playing from around 8pm. With it being such a great night on Friday and a different crowd of people, I didn’t enjoy the music as much on Saturday, although I can’t fault the musicians who all played fantastically; Andy Shades, Andrew Mills and Sewer Suckers all put on great performances.

I have linked up all the artists involved that I know of. If I have missed anyone off, please get in touch.

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