Take me home please
Skipton Pie and Mash, Yorkshire
Season 2014-2015
Grey stone houses, flat caps, pigeons, canals – surely the pie and mash club has wandered off course! But no, a carefully planned – and once postponed – official visit to North Yorkshire on Saturday 8th November brought club representatives to the very edge of t'dales and the cosy market town of Skipton.
Established here for a few short years is Skipton Pie and Mash, a bold venture by former South Londoner Nick Osborne, who runs narrowboat trips from the neighbouring canal-side quay. The shop is a compact two storey house with the original ground floor made into a low-ceilinged dining room which seats about 2 dozen. The menu boards indicated that this was no ordinary pie and mash shop.

Our hostess was Jen, our chef Kelvin. The shop was a-bustle as you might expect on a damp market day lunchtime.

In a region where parsley sauce might be treated as exotic, nay suspicious, the motto 'gravy or green liquor' highlights the challenge of converting the northern palate to pie and mash.

Fittingly this 450-mile round trip odyssey – the longest day trip in Pie and Mash history – was ennobled by a notable member of famous bygones 'The Pie and Mash Club of Great Britain'. Monty Martin quickly established his credentials with an awesome – and well-fitting – sweatshirt, plus a copy of the Pie and Mash Domesday Book.

A longtime denizen of Basildon, Monty has since emigrated to Lincolnshire, whence he had motored to join us with his svelte partner Moira Trafford.

The London athletes comprised Mike G, Rik Lucas and myself. Here they are under starter's orders.

Richard Lucas marked the historic event with his fabulous Mister Pound Tie.

A view of the low-ceilinged pie parlour. The five of us just managed to squeeze ourselves and the food into that corner table.

Mike reported a singular improvement in pie quality and liquor distribution since his first visit in 2012. I found the fare to be a departure from standard London pie and mash. Our first pies were 'traditional' beef mince; markedly larger than average and filled generously to their crimped pastry edges. It's a pie made to savour and enjoy at leisure, not to shovel and go.

The Pie and Mash Club at the end of pie number one. We were urged to leave space for a Skipton Meze.

Chef Kelvin was soon bearing down upon us with the aforementioned selection platter.

Here arrayed on the silver salver are pies of steak and guinness, beef shin, chicken ham and leek, and chicken and mushroom, with a central heap of chunky home made chips. A cheese, potato and leek option – called the homity – is also available for those of a vegetarian disposition.

After lunch we were afforded a glimpse into the Skipton pie galley – a tight and tidy kitchen well equipped for the preparation of varied extras such as mushy peas and gravy.

[Above] The upstairs dining room.
[Right] The dishwashing department
[Far right] Dogs are allowed to watch quietly.

Kelvin, Jen and their dynamic team.

For anyone venturing up north from London, Skipton Pie and Mash Shop is a must-do. However if you're expecting a standard London experience, you'll be disappointed. Perhaps its closest southern counterpart is Goddard's at Greenwich – it's 'pie and mash plus', aimed squarely at the tourist and traveller. And in that role it excels. It's truly a Pie Stop; a place to ponder a proper pie menu and enjoy good quality home made English tuck in cosy surroundings. My only disappointment was a lack of top drawer traditional hot desserts to round off the menu. But my inbox was full in any case.

We bade our Lincs colleagues farewell and went in search of dales to walk the whole thing off.

Spectacular panoramas were but a short hike away.

Well worth 7 hours on a train. 'Twere reet champion.