Running at full pelt
Conkers championships, pork pie competitions and ferrets racing overhead – Victoria Benn visits the pub bringing historic pastimes back to life. Pictures by Matthew Lloyd.
There is a pub in the charismatic Yorkshire Dales village of Appletreewick called the Craven Arms. It has flagged floors, real fires, gas lighting and all the snug nooks and crannies one could hopes for from a 16th century inn. Sited at the rear is its undisputable crowning glory, a traditionally built cruck barn – hand-crafted from bent oak trees, with walls insulated with sheep’s wool and rendered with traditional lime and horse hair, and roofed with a hand-pulled heather ling thatch. The pub’s schedule of events and activities is as quirky and quintessentially Yorkshire as its exterior. An eclectic calendar which includes a pork pie competition, beer festival, terrier racing, conkers championship and, on February 15, the most eccentric and popular of all – an annual ferret racing competition.
Remarkably, however, the Craven Arms’s timehonoured atmosphere and appearance, and crucially its “historic” cruck barn were created by current owners David Aynesworth and his family just over 10 years ago. And the unconventional programme of events? Also dreamt up by David.
“I’ve always enjoyed old things and getting them going and bringing them back to life again – I have a real passion for the past,” he says with a smile.
Throughout his early careers as a farm manager then chartered surveyor, David’s love of restoration started to manifest itself, first with vintage cars