Say the phrase "hostelry on windswept moorland" and the mental image people conjure up will be very similar to The Lion Inn - a single rambling stone-built 16th century inn standing bleakly alone on the highest point of the North York Moors. On a wintry day walking into the bar, which somehow seems made up entirely of snug, sosy low-beamed corners is such a delight that one would be tempted to nip back out and do it again if the atmosphere and warm aromas of excellent cooking had not already hooked you.
While the food (Bar, A la'Carte and Sunday Lunch menus) is great throughout the myriad of rooms in the inn, first-time visitors might prefer the bar because it affords you the joy of eating (try the Old Peculier casserole or beef curry) at the same time as looking through the windows at the vast arched backs of the Moors. Vegetarian offerings are good and original, as is the fish, and fans of traditional puddings will be pleased by the presence of jam and treacle roly-poly on the menu.
In Summer - well, at any time if you're brave enough - there are camping facilities outside, and in fine weather a tent pitched here can make a marvellous and inexpensive base for walkers. Otherwise The Lion has bed-and-breakfast rooms, which in conjunction with an evening in the bar or restaurant and a couple of walks in the heather make for one of the most ruggedly romantic weekends available in the British Isles (look out for the ancient Ralph's Cross waymark one mile away).
If you fancy a trip in snowy weather, it would be wise to call ahead - it is far from unknown for The Lion to get cut off, and previous years have seen staff digging tunnels through drifts to the front door.
From The BMW series 1 Good Food Ride - 101 Great British Food Adventures.
Published in 2006 by The Fish Can Sing