BACK in the 17th century, when weary travellers were heading across the moors on horseback, Dick Hudsons was a welcome haven.

Through the centuries, the landmark inn has continued to serve ale and hearty fare to those making the journey from Bingley, across Rombalds Moor, to Ilkley.

As popular now as it was then, the pub, on Otley Road, High Eldwick, is back open for business, to the delight of staff and customers alike.

“We are all very excited to be back,” said manager April Stockdale-Fitzsimmons, “When we were closed I would come in about once a week to around 15 voice mails asking when we were opening up.

“It was brilliant to be able to open outside in April, and now we are getting a stream of bookings inside as well - we are fully booked this week.

"People have been looking forward to it. It is really nice outside, but very weather dependent - we were very lucky at first with the sunshine, but then it changed.

“We have three fires in the pub which are all on if it is cold - it’s nice and cosy.”

April jokingly describes herself as “part of the furniture” at Dick Hudsons. She started aged 16 as a part-time waitress while a pupil at Bingley Grammar School.

“When I came it was just a job to make a bit of pocket money but I really enjoyed it - it’s a really social job. I’ve done all sorts of training over the years including kitchen training - I can work as a chef too, if need be - working up to assistant manager, and now I’m the manager.

“I get a lot of comments such as ‘You’re STILL here!’” she laughs.

Dick Hudsons began life in an old farmhouse, as an inn called The Plough Boy on Otley Road. When a new road opened the business moved to its present site at Highgate Farm and became The Fleece. In 1850 the farm and pub were taken over by amiable andlord Dick Hudson, who was at the helm until 1879, It has been known as Dick Hudsons ever since.

The pub bears a blue tourist plaque, unveiled by Bingley Civic Trust, to recognise its cultural significance.

In its stunning location on the edge of the moors, the pub attracts many ramblers.

“We get a lot of walkers - one walk goes over Rombalds Moor to our sister pub the Cow and Calf in Ilkley,” said April. “Some people walk across to the Cow and Calf and have a meal, then walk back and finish with a drink here, or vice versa. It’s a lovely walk, I’ve done it myself.”

Both pubs are part of Vintage Inns, owned by Mitchells & Butlers, one of the UK’s largest operators of restaurants, pubs and bars.

Lockdown gave the team - there are 22 full and part-time staff - chance to do some outside jobs including varnishing fences, gardening and jet washing paths and parking areas.

“Inside we had a refurbishment four years ago, retaining the country pub look and feel - it has a lot of character.”

They only had one setback during the lockdown closures - a burst pipe. “We eventually got it sorted,” said April.

Since reopening outside, fish and chips has been top of the bill for diners. “It has been so popular, with our slow-cooked beef bourguignon another regular choice.”

Chicken curry, a range of pizzas, burgers and Sunday roasts are also on the menu.

Tasty puddings include double chocolate brownie with Irish liqueur ice cream and caramel biscuit torte.

“Cask ale has also been popular - people have been so happy to have a drink off draught. One man had not had a pint off draught for two years - he took one big gulp then sat and savoured the rest.”

*Dick Hudsons, Otley Road, Bingley, BD16 3BA Tel: 01274 552121

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