We decided to take a late break in the northern part of Yorkshire to see some of the Christmas festivities and events.
First, though, we decided to do some ‘wild’ camping and we headed towards Pickering with the camper to enjoy some North Yorkshire hospitality. We had called ahead to a pub restaurant in a tiny village called Hutton le Hole which we know has a large car park that they sometimes let out to motorhomes and campers and our idea was to have a nice meal, drink and then to bed.
We found that Pickering was in an unusual mess due to the combined effects of replacing a large gas main at one end of the town and the building of a Lidle supermarket at the other. Roads and pavements were dug up and closed and there was a strong smell of gas around (at the gas works end, not the supermarket end!). Many of the shops were closed since Wednesday seems to be early closing day and in December the trade is slow anyway. All were beautifully decorated for Christmas and the gathering dusk lent an almost magical air despite the fluorescent plastic barriers.
A hot chocolate at ‘Frog Café’ took the chill off our bones and with our spirits revived we wandered through the shops looking for bargains and a few essentials we had forgotten to bring.
Hutton le Hole is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Hoton. Since then it has been known as Hege-Hoton, Hoton under Heg and Hewton. The name Hutton-le-Hole means the place of the burial ground near the hollow, however, the full name only dates form the 19th century.
The Ryedale Folk Museum in Hutton-le-Hole contains 13 rescued and reconstructed historic buildings, including an Iron Age round house, period shops, thatched cottages, an Elizabethan manor house, barns and workshops. They display the lives of ordinary people, up to the present day. There is a cafe, a shop, a gift shop and (in season) craft workshops. The folk museum also has the photographic studio of William Hayes, whose studio is believed to be the oldest daylight photographic studio in England, having been set up in the early 20th century.
We wanted to get to Hutton le Hole before dark as we were not exactly sure where they would want us to park the van. Our chosen eating place was ‘The Crown’ which has undergone something of a transformation in the past year with the appointment of a young and innovative chef. Reports of the food quality were generally very good. As it turned out the area at the back of the pub was empty and we parked up, plugged in and waited until the pub opened.
We were greeted by the Bar Manager, Jake, who pulled an excellent pint of Black Sheep cask bitter for me and a large glass of Pinot Grigiot for Sue. We were not ravenously hungry so we went straight for the main courses. I was spoiled for choice but on this occasion I fancied a piece of gammon. I am always a little apprehensive about ordering gammon because so often I am served a large thin slice of what ends up as boiled bacon. Gammon should, to my mind, always come as a thick steak – no thinner than 1″. I asked Jake what the gammon was like and he confirmed that the chef and he were of similar minds and that I wouldn’t be disappointed. Sue went for one of the vegetarian options: feta cheese and spinach in a pastry parcel with side salad, spiced chickpeas and spicy wedges.
When the food arrived it was magnificent. My thick gammon steak was covered in fresh pineapple and a side order of vegetables filled the plate. Sue remarked on the creaminess of the feta which was excellently complimented by the wilted spinach in a pastry case and the basket of wedges was large enough to share.
Although my hunger was completely sated I couldn’t resist looking at the dessert menu. Big mistake! Lots of choice and some really tempting options but my eyes were drawn to the sticky toffee pudding. Sue favoured a ginger creme brûlée with a mulled fruit compote. Both were superb but I couldn’t finish the large slab of toffee sponge floating in a lake of dark toffee sauce nor the cinder toffee ice cream which accompanied it.
The chef came out later to check if we were satisfied with our meals and we chatted about the way in which he had made the amazing fruit compote for the crème brûlée. We relaxed by the roaring log fire until it was time to leave and head back to the camper van parked just a few yards away. And so to bed…