Re­gional & Sea­sonal: Shib­den Mill Inn

Landscape (UK) - - Contents - Words: Katy Is­lip Pho­tog­ra­phy: Mark Davis

down a wind­ing tree-lined lane, a white-painted inn sits tucked into the fold of a ver­dant York­shire val­ley. To its front, a small brook bur­bles away, while in the sur­round­ing green­ery birds call and flit busily. Parts of the build­ing date back to 1650, and it has known sev­eral uses in its life­time. Its time as a corn and tex­tile mill sup­plied its cur­rent name of Shib­den Mill Inn. “We’re in the bot­tom of the val­ley and both ap­proaches are steep pic­turesque lanes. You have to know where we are,” says Si­mon Heaton. He and wife Caitlin have owned the inn for al­most 20 years, and love the beau­ti­ful set­ting and the va­ri­ety it af­fords. “It’s on a pub­lic bri­dle­way, and we get lots of rid­ers com­ing past. We have a trough where they can tie their horses up, and we get lots of walk­ers and cy­clists too. Dogs are wel­come, and we get all sorts, from lo­cal drinkers to busi­ness peo­ple who come to stay here.” Since tak­ing it on, the Heatons have re­fur­bished and re­vived the inn. “Un­til six years ago, I was trav­el­ling the world for work, and knew what kind of place I wanted to stay in,” says Si­mon. “Caitlin and our gen­eral man­ager Glen Pear­son have done it all up sym­pa­thet­i­cally. It’s a re­ally nice char­ac­ter­ful build­ing in a beau­ti­ful set­ting. We aim to of­fer good food, good wine and a good old-fash­ioned York­shire wel­come in a great at­mos­phere.” Vi­tal to this are the inn’s staff. “We have a great team, and if you have a great team you can cope with any­thing,” says Si­mon. Lead­ing the team in the kitchen is head chef Dar­ren Parkin­son. He loves the abun­dance of this time of year. “You know when the sea­son is chang­ing, and it’s great. We have wild gar­lic grow­ing out the back, and you can smell it. Once the Jersey Roy­als are in sup­ply you know it’s all on the way.” The inn’s menu re­flects the sea­son’s va­ri­ety. From sea trout from the east York­shire coast to fresh as­para­gus, and cheese made a few miles away in Tod­mor­den, Dar­ren is in his el­e­ment. “I keep things fresh, with big flavours and no more than five in­gre­di­ents on a plate so the flavours are nice and clear.” The inn’s small kitchen gar­den also sup­plies herbs, baby veg­eta­bles, berries, cour­gette flow­ers and more. “The gar­dener will bring a bas­ket down ev­ery day, which will be used as gar­nish or be­come a spe­cial veg­e­tar­ian dish. We might only get 10 por­tions, but it’s lovely to grow it right in front of the inn.” The gar­den’s rasp­ber­ries go well with a lo­cal dish pop­u­lar at this time of year, the York­shire curd tart. This was tra­di­tion­ally baked for Whit­sun­tide, the week or week­end in­clud­ing Whit Sun­day, the sev­enth Sun­day af­ter Easter.

Thought to have orig­i­nated in the early to mid 17th cen­tury, the tarts were made us­ing left­over curds from the cheese­mak­ing process, of­ten flavoured with rose wa­ter. “It’s a very York­shire dish,” says Dar­ren. “It’s a unique taste, be­cause it’s a baked curd cake, with rose wa­ter, sul­tanas and cur­rants.” Savour­ing the busi­ness of run­ning the inn, Si­mon has no re­grets about set­tling down here. “I love meet­ing peo­ple, and I’m proud of what we’ve done. We’ve worked hard,” he says. “At this time of year, ev­ery­thing’s green, we’ve got flow­ers ev­ery­where, and ev­ery now and then we get deer walk­ing through the gar­den. We’re two miles from Hal­i­fax and a cou­ple from Brad­ford, but we’re nestling in our own val­ley, and you could be any­where. The sun is shin­ing, and it’s a beau­ti­ful day.”

A for­mer mill nes­tled in the fold of a val­ley serves the county’s tra­di­tional Whit­sun­tide dish

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