JOSH LAYTON braves the biting weather for a break in North Yorkshire, where the hospitality keeps out the cold

THE BITING wind feels like it's whipping through our bones as we shiver on an icy ridgeline on the North Yorkshire Dales.

Fortunately, the scene of magnificent desolation is only 100 metres from the nearest pub.

Pausing on the snow-dappled moors, the wind chill feels like something we would imagine from a Hollywood treatment of an Everest expedition.

So we're relieved to tumble through the doors of the Tan Hill Inn, the highest pub in England at 1,732ft above sea level. If it sounds extreme the retreat has a tractor-mounted plough and track vehicle parked outside, while the mulled cider is worth its weight in fermented apples.

Revellers seeing in 2009 ended up being snowed in for three days, and we kept a beady eye on the conditions outside. On the Yorkshire Moors a friendly welcome is never far away, even when the undulating quilts of moss, grass and snow seem to stretch forever, in every direction.

Walking through winding, tea packet Yorkshire lanes passing over brooks by fields inhabited by the occasional gaggle of sheep, there's always somewhere to duck in from the cold.

On the first day of our one-night stopover we found no shortage of northern hygge at the Charles Bathurst Inn, an authentic, tasteful and thoughtfully-appointed retreat in winding Arkengarthdale.

Given the snow blizzards intermittently swirling outside and the numbing cold, we made most of the award-winning Yorkshire hospitality in the barely-stirring parish of Richmond.

Tucked away on the side of a valley, the hostelry is never short of a cheerful crowd making the most of the exceptional food and drink produced in-house on a seasonal basis.

Members of the Royal family are known to have wandered in for evening refreshments while out shooting grouse in hunting season, and we found it a princely fit for our break.

Other pursuits within easy reach include mountain biking and tours of the dales, with car and art clubs among the numerous groups gathering at the 18th Century inn.

Having succumbed to our frosty ridgeline walk and a separate foray trying to climb a deceptively tricky escarpment which first appeared about 500 metres from where we were parked, we checked in and planned for more gentle distractions on our second day.

Our exertions on the frosty moors were replenished at a candle-lit corner table adorned with snowdrops where I dined on a superlative seabass fillet, the seared steaks crossed over a bed of ocean-fresh seafood with sundried tomato and tagliatelle and lemon oil. My partner had a slow-braised, rolled belly of pork, accompanied by a finely-mashed bubble and squeak cake and red cabbage. We'd chosen a nibbles board for our starter, the bread and hummus, both made on the premises, accompanied by marinated green and black olives, and it stayed on as a side.

A sticky toffee pudding with custard proved a knockout finale, the spongy brown square on my white plate being smothered in a rich and deeply embracing sauce.

Brim full of rustic character, the guest house, which is known as the CB Inn to locals, has a coveted Rosette and four silver stars from the AA for its excellent standards.

In the morning, we awoke to bird song in the fields outside one of our windows and breakfasted on divine Wensleydale scrambled eggs wrapped in smoked salmon.

Suitably thawed, we packed in a quick walk along the empty lane outside in what was once a lead mining area, batting up the moss embankments to enjoy the views.

Nature featured on our second stop as we took a short drive to go red squirrel spotting at Snaizeholme, just outside the market town of Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

With only around 15,000 of the creatures left in England, the woodland sanctuary is one of the few places they can be seen going about their lives in the wild.

The refuge only came out by chance more than 40 years ago when a family who took over a farm noticed the reds were attracted to Christmas trees they had planted.

Snaizeholme is now one of 14 such refuges in northern England, regarded as the ‘front line’ between the survivors and grey squirrels, which measure up twice as large.

Before heading south, we passed under the battlements of Barnard Castle, a rising fortress that made an imposing scene above the fast-flowing River Tees.

Taking its name from its 12th Century founder, Bernard de Balliol, the fortifications are in a delightful market town with no end of quirky tea shops and pubs.

The visitor attraction was closed on the Monday we visited but we got a good impression of the strategic position as we strolled on a pathway underneath.

A sensory garden of scented plants and tactile objects, views over the Tees Gorge and Richard III’s boar emblem carved above the inner ward are among the reasons we will return.

Reluctantly setting TomTom for home, we reflect on a slice of England that changes drastically with the seasons. Icy conditions will soon make way for the kind of sun-blessed scenes that were opened up to the nation through the overhead television shots of the 2014 Tour De France’s ‘grand depart’ in Yorkshire. Whether rain, shine or icy pub walk, we’ll be back on the trail soon.

*For more information, rates and booking at the CB Inn visit or freephone 0333 7000 779.