I DON'T think I have ever been to the Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge when it hasn't been anything other than windswept.

It can be as calm as you like down on the Teesside coast, but gain a few metres in elevation and the weather is often anything but.

On our latest visit up hill and down dale - or more precisely Moor - it was blowing a proper hoolie.

Postponing our planned walked until after lunch we headed for the welcoming fireside at the Lion.

While it may be cold outside, the welcome inside its traditional exterior is always guaranteed to be warm.

The clientele was the usual mix of the hardy outdoor type, the casual passer-by and man's best friend - for there's plenty of room at the Inn for well-behaved dogs.

Finding a table isn't always easy, you may have to hang around the bar for a while until one becomes available. While this is fine if it's just you and the wife, if, like us you have young children in tow, it can be more problematic. Thankfully, another family having already finished and having become aware of our rather lively companions were happy to vacate their spot beneath the window.

The layout of the pub is one of its plus points for me, there's nooks and crannies everywhere, tables with views for those who like people watching and more secluded spots for those seeking a little privacy. Should the need arise there's always room in the restaurant, but it's in the bar where the real character, and often characters, are.

Choosing from the menu is no mean feat - there's much to choose from - mainly meat based, but the Lion also caters for vegetarians.

The Old Peculier casserole caught my eye, the promise of ale drenched beef and vegetables with home-cooked chips, winning me over. My other half, a fellow carnivore, opted for the continental sounding Fillet Steak Tornedo Rossini - two 4oz steaks, served on a crouton with pate, Madeira sauce and the trimmings.

There was plenty of the kids to choose from, all home-cooked, making them feel as much a part of the treat as the adults.

We had to wait a little while - down to the restaurant being busy and the preparation of the dishes, no doubt - but we could not argue when our orders arrived.

Forgoing a starter proved wise on all our parts, such was the size of the portions - in fact, truth be told, we could have done with a larger table.

A pint of Yorkshire Golden acted as an accompaniment to my dish, which was hot, hearty and wholesome, my wife being equally impressed with her 'melt in the mouth' steak covered in a 'subtle' sauce.

With the fire crackling by our side and the rain pitter-pattering against the glass, we decided it was still too soon to venture out and opted to share a couple of desserts between us, the brandy snap basket and apple pie with custard proving too much of a temptation.

After settling the near £70 bill - not bad for five big eaters - we could delay our departure no longer, though our four-year-old did his best by locking himself in the loo for 15 minutes.

A quick walk to encourage digestion, we jumped back in the car, my wife and I promising that next time we'd stay the night - albeit without our little entourage.


The Lion Inn, Blakey Ridge, Kirkbymoorside, North Yorkshire, YO62 7LQ

Tel: 01751 417320

Web: www.lionblakey.co.uk

Ratings (out of ten): Food Quality 8, Service 6, Surroundings 8, Value for money 7