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Scotsman's Pack Inn (Hathersage)

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Pub/Restaurant/Hotel. School Lane, Hathersage, Sheffield, S32 1BZ Telephone/Fax: +44(0)1433 650253.

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      19.02.2001 20:00
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      Since retiring from the full-time slog of working for local government in Scotland, one of the 'fringe benefits that has come from running a Consultancy is the requirement to visit many different parts of the UK - on tax-deductible expenses ! This includes staying at a variety of hotels and eating at a number of restaurants, 'in the course of business'. As is my approach with hotels, (where I will not generally give an opinion on the basis of a single stay), I will not give an opinion on a restaurant on the basis of a single meal. Thus if you read any of my DooYoo opinions on a restaurant you can be assured, unless I writ otherwise, then it is on the basis of 'x' visits, and an estimate of the variable number 'x' will be given in the opinion Over the past 5 years of running this Consultancy, I have counted myself fortunate in that my in-laws are 'natives' (born and bred) of Derbyshire and live in the village of Hathersage in the beautiful Hope Valley part of the Derbyshire 'Peak District'. Thus each time I have travelled to Chester, or to anywhere further South, I will always spend at least one night (on the outward and/or return journey) in the village (with resulting 'free bed/breakfast.). However, it is my policy to eat out on at least one evening in the village , with my wife (& also business partner) Heather and other relatives. We have tried most of the eating establishments in the village, but it is the 'Scotsman's Pack' which we return to time and again and we have dined there now on at least a dozen occasions. I will admit that part of the attraction is that it is within walking distance of the family home, but so is 'The George', 'The Hathersage Inn' (or 'Ordnance Arms' as many of the locals still call it) and the 'local curry house', but "The Scotsman's" always offers good value, consistently excellent food and good s ervice. "The Scotsman's Pack Inn" is a detached property mostly dating from about 1900, but built with remnants of an earlier structure incorporated. It is situated on School Lane, leading off the main A625 Sheffield Road and next to the village (C of E) primary school. The car park is small and restrictive but further 'on road parking' is available and the main village car park is not too far away. The 'Inn' is a typical Derbyshire Country pub and owes its name to its situation on one of the old 'tracks' leading to Sheffield. It is described as a 'regular calling place for the 'Packman'. These were in effect, travelling drapers, some of them Scots bringing Tweeds to sell at the villages in the Hope valley and the Inn sign shows a good representation of one of these 'characters'. As you enter the pub you are presented with a long (well-stocked) bar right in front of you, with dining areas to the left (non-smoking) and to the right (smoking). If you wish to 'dine', meals are served from 6.30pm to 9pm and lunches from midday until 2 pm. It may be possible in the winter to just 'turn up' and get a table for dinner, but prior booking is recommended (01433 650253). The bar sells a number of 'real ales', for those who wish to 'risk' these brews, and the local CAMRA branch have bestowed a number of awards on the pub, which generally indicates that few have died yet from their consumption. They also sell Draught Guinness, the usual range of lagers, quite drinkable wines by the glass, and excellent coffee. When you have selected your 'starter' and main course either from the menus on the table or from the large number of 'specials' listed on a giant blackboard shielding the diners in the non-smoking end from the hoi palloi, you place your order to one of the people behind the bar. They are usually the own ers, Brian and Sally Williams a pleasant if slightly diffident couple. For the information of Guinness aficionados, like myself, Sally draws the better pint of 'der black stuff'. Thos who have visited Hathersage or have read about the village will know of the suggestion that 'Little John' (of 'Robin Hood' fame) is buried in the village church yard, and a sign on School Lane directs you to his last resting place. Naturally (being 'sensible' in this respect if not in all) we dine in the non-smoking end and as you proceed past the blackboard, you can see, on your right, a small table for two where one of the chairs is the most enormous Windsor chairs that you have ever seen in your life. As would be anticipated, there is a brass plaque on it alleging that this is 'Little John's Chair', with some nonsense 'legend' that it was 'won in a wager'. The 'information' is inscribed on a brass plaque that is very difficult to read once you have 5 or 6 pints of the 'black stuff' inside you. However, I am not among the gullible who believes a word of it, in that the chair does not look old enough. However, it is a magnificent seat, with a very high back and you would certainly want the fellow it was made for 'on your side', if you were fighting the Sheriff of Nottingham ! As you consult the printed menu and the list on the blackboard, you are literally over-whelmed for choice. The items listed on the blackboard do change (possible on a weekly basis), but experience has shown us that the best value is generally on the 'basic table menu'. Indeed, if you want a 'starter' (soup, garlic mushrooms, pate, a concoction of smoked salmon and prawns, etc., with prices from £2.40 to £4.95), then you should avoid the 'basic menu main course', since even I have been unable to finish one of these main courses if I have also had a starter (and both Heather and I a re complete strangers the dessert menu !). The 'blackboard 'specials' tend to be of smaller portions. A word of warning as regards the fish courses. They serve a wide variety of fish (salmon, cod, trout, halibut and swordfish, and others being frequently listed on the blackboard), but to us (with such excellent fish restaurants available in Edinburgh) they have always been slightly disappointing. Our favourites ? Moussaka (£6.55), Lasagne Verde (£6.55), Chicken and Ginger Stir Fry with Wild Rice (£8.75), Fillet Steak (£10.95), T bone (£12.95) and Mixed Grill (£10.95). The latter is what I always plump (a good word for me) for when I am ravenous. It comprises an oval plate (laden with steak, a lamb chop, a lambs' kidney, a piece of lamb's liver, a piece of gammon and mushrooms); a separate dish of (always excellent) chips; AND a dish of vegetables (new potatoes, mange toute, broccoli and cauliflower). Need I say more !! (to any fellow confirmed carnivore !). However, possibly the best value of the lot is the Moussaka. Here you have a large plate with the most marvellous assortment of salad items and a dish containing the Moussaka itself, together with the 'side order' of chips. Heather jokes that she gets three courses in one with this dish. You see, with the salad, there is a chunk of melon (starter), the usual salad selection (to accompany the main course) and fruit pieces - orange slices, kiwi fruit and grapes (dessert). The Moussaka itself is delicious with a generous portion of aubergine minced meat and cheese (sometimes 'too much' cheese). When you have been 'Moussaka-ed' at "The Scotsman's" you are in no fit state for a proper dessert. Vegetarians are also well- catered for, with five varied items on the basic menu including the quite tasty Pine Kernels with cashew nuts and pineapple (with wild rice) and leek & mushroom crumble (both tried and en joyed by Heathergee when she has not fancied being 'moussaka-ed'). The meals are all "freshly prepared" and there has never been a problem with the presentation of the food. BEWARE the food is always very hot when it reaches your table. You can sometime glimpse the kitchen through the door behind the bar and it always looks very busy (and clean). A word about the waitresses. The 'permanent' feature is Laura (who loves it if you remember her name !!) She must be at least 75 years' old and looks like everyone's favourite 'wee granny'. Laura looks as if she should be slow and methodical (as are many ladies of her vintage) , but she literally 'scurries' around the place and whatever she has done with her life to avoid the scourge of arthritis, I'd love to know her secret ! All 'tips' are placed in a communal 'pot', for all the staff to share out. Clientele The Peak District is quite rightly very popular with walkers, hikers, rock-climbers and similar 'hearties', so that if you do go to the "The Scotsman's Pack" during weekends, particularly in the spring/summer then the bar is often full of these people (but fortunately they are not allowed to take their own 'packs' into the bar). With my liking for 'quiet pubs', I like The Scotsman's" rather less during these weekends. Accommodation. If you wish, you can now 'stay' at The Scotsman's Pack'. They have "five delightful en-suite rooms" to let. I have no personal experience. but the charge is £58 per couple per night bed & breakfast, so if you are not within easy reach of the village and fancy a short stay in the Peak District, you could probably doo worse.

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