“ How Lane / Castleton / Hope Valley / Peak District / S33 8WJ / Tel: 01433 620330 „
There was a time when I was growing up when my family suddenly became a little bit more affluent. My dad had worked all of his life in the Sheffield steelworks and had been made unemployed. That was a difficult time but just when things were starting to look grim he got another job. This job came with a company car and he had a good boss. One of the perks of this job was that was that he was allowed to take his wife and kids (my brother and myself) out for a meal every week, as long as the total bill did not exceed £60. For the next couple of years my mother never had to cook another Sunday Lunch. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Inn, located in the Derbyshire town of Castleton was one of several Pubs/Restaurants where we became regulars. Castleton is a beautiful little town in an area of the Peak District National Park known as the High Peak. It is an area that is famous for its caves and these days I visit here fairly regularly on my trips into the Peak District. When I was here a few weeks ago and I wanted to find somewhere to eat I instantly thought about the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Inn. The first reference to this building as a pub dates from 1577. By 1660 this Inn was owned by the Hall family, who also had another inn (or Alehowse) in the village. The Hall family were one of the most prominent families in Castleton and there are still many descendants of this family in the village today. Between 1660 and 1748 this inn was passed through various different members of this same family. During this time it was a stage coach inn and it was known as the Wagon and Horses. In 1748 this building acquired a full license. In 1847 the name was changed to the Cheshire Cheese and by this time the publican was once again a member of the Hall family, a man called George Hall. At this time the village of Castleton had a population of 1,428 inhabitants. This was one of five pubs in the village, the others being the Bulls Head, the Nags Head, the Butchers Arms and the George and Dragon, the latter was owned by George Hall's brother. The Cheshire Cheese became known as Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese shortly after this date. Today, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is both a popular pub and a popular hostelry providing accommodation on a bed & breakfast basis. Since Castleton is only a 30 minute journey from where I live in Sheffield I have not actually had the need to find accommodation here but tariffs for a double room start at £55 per night. There are ten bedrooms all with en suite facilities, a colour TV, hairdryer and tea and coffee making facilities. My visits here have been solely for food and drink purposes. From the outside this place has a black and white coloured timber oak structure in a medieval Tudor style. Walking into this pub the first that I always notice is how low the ceiling is. There are original solid oak beams across the ceiling and these make the rooms look even lower. Fortunately I am only short so I do not need to bend down but it does make me wonder if everyone was a midget 500 years ago. There are two separate rooms at the front of the building divided by a short corridor. Though described as the Lounge and Tap Room there is actually very little difference in the quality of these two rooms, although only the Lounge is carpeted. I chose to sit in the Lounge on my most recent visit and ordered a standard bar meal. This was home made meat and potato pie which came cooked to perfection although if I am to be critical the portion could have been a little larger. At £5.75 however this still represented reasonable value for money. Other meals available on the bar menu included lasagne, fish & chips and a ploughman's lunch. If however you want more than the basic food served on this menu then there is a small restaurant located at the rear of the building. On a Sunday a full Sunday roast carvery is available in the restaurant. This is the area of the building that I recall from my youth. During my recent visit there seemed to be a good selection of drinks available at the bar, including three different types of Real Ale, although I only had a coke, which at £1.40 for a small glass was rather pricey. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese has recently changed owners. The sign behind the bar advised that "John and Karen wish everyone a very warm welcome." If I am honest I do not exactly recall how different, if at all, this place was to when I first used to come here twenty five or so years ago, but today it still has a warm, cosy, welcoming atmosphere, which is the one thing that I do still remember. The decor in the bar area is fairly traditional. There are wooden panels on the bar area and the stone walls are simply white washed. There is no juke box, no pool table, and there are no fruit machines. This, I feel helps to provide a nice relaxing atmosphere. The tables are rather basic and wooden and the carpeted part of the floor is covered in a red patterned carpet. From the wooden beams on the ceiling there are dozens of Toby Jugs that hang down. According the sign outside "Muddy boots are welcome" although I suspect they are probably not in the restaurant part. I am pleased that I revisited this old haunt and was not disappointed. It is a place that I would probably visit again, although I would not go out of my way to do so.