Staff at UK’s highest pub bid ‘fond farewell’ to snowed-in guests

·3-min read
<span>Photograph: The Tan Hill Inn/PA</span>
Photograph: The Tan Hill Inn/PA

Staff have bid “a fond farewell” to the majority of a 61-strong group that spent three days trapped in the UK’s highest pub.

Two of the guests will spend a fourth night at the 17th-century Tan Hill Inn in the Yorkshire Dales, after getting snowed in on Friday night as Storm Arwen struck having travelled to watch an Oasis tribute band.

The guests managed to dig their vehicles out one by one on Monday to follow a path cleared by a snowplough after three days of pub quizzes, board games and karaoke. The two who remained were “young girls who were a bit nervous about driving in these conditions”, said Donna Harrowell, the inn’s duty manager.

“Which is quite handy for us because they’re upstairs stripping beds and helping us get the place back to normal,” she added as the pub prepared to welcome new customers who had made it up the newly cleared road.

Blizzards caused 3-metre snowdrifts and meant a tunnel had to be cut from the front door, but the roads remained impassable over the weekend because of fallen power cables that had blown over in the high winds.

Most of the guests, including four dogs, slept on sofas and mattresses spread on the stone-flagged floor. One couple and their dog had planned to camp next to the pub, but were forced to make a hasty change of plan.

Storm Arwen caused snowdrifts of up to three metres around the pub
Storm Arwen caused snowdrifts of up to three metres around the pub. Photograph: Martin Overton/PA

“The tent was totally destroyed on the Friday, so they just brought the stuff inside, dried off and slept in our lounge on the floor,” Harrowell said.

As well as acoustic performances by Noasis – now nicknamed Snow-asis - the group watched films shown on a projector and enjoyed the well-stocked bar and kitchen. The group were treated to a traditional Sunday lunch, including slices of roast meat for the canine guests when supplies of dog food ran low.

“The only thing we really ran out of was breakfast sausages,” said Harroway, leaving guests to “make do” with just bacon sandwiches on Monday morning. The pub’s owners decided to subsidise the food, providing all meals for free or at a heavily-discounted price to cover costs. Perhaps wisely, they continued to charge customers for drinks, which flowed throughout.

“The karaoke last night was a bit slow to start with, but once they’d had a few more pints, everyone was jumping in and enjoying it. The sounds were incredible,” Harroway said.

As well as food, drink and entertainment, Nicola Townsend, the pub’s general manager, said staff had “made sure that personal hygiene has been taken care of”, with showers provided. There was talk of planning a reunion in a year’s time, and there has even been inquiries about making a film based on the snowbound lock-in.

“We’ve all become really good friends actually, the people that are here … it sounds a bit like a cliche, but they came as strangers and they’re leaving as friends, they truly are,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Harroway described the pub’s staff as like a family who like to “make everything fun”, which the stranded guests joined in with. “All of them mucked in, collecting glasses, washing dishes, helping out wherever they can. They’ve been brilliant,” she said.

This is not the Tan Hall Inn’s first, or longest, snow-in. The pub, which stands 528 metres above sea level, housed staff and four guests for five days in 2013 after deep snowdrifts blocked the road.

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