REMEMBER the Waitrose Christmas telly advertisement from a couple of years back?

It was the one where a bunch of strangers get snowed-in at the Tan Hill Inn on Christmas Eve and have to spend the holiday season together.

But all is well because the pub is stocked up with the posh supermarket’s festive fare, everyone pitches in to prepare the Christmas table and a great time is had by all until help arrives – probably those spoilsports from the Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team – to dig ‘em out.

The final shots in the ad cut between the stranded customers, looking forlornly at their lovingly-prepared Waitrose Christmas dinner, and the puzzled rescuers, wondering why they bothered.

It’s a minor classic and I’m sure it must have resonated as much, if not more, with men as with women because, let’s be honest guys, it’s every man’s dream to get stuck in a pub, defying the elements warring outside, fortified only by the contents of a well-stocked cellar. And should there be a few mince pies, brandy butter and pigs in blankets as well, that would be fine and dandy too.

The ad came to mind on a recent visit to the CB Inn at Arkengarthdale, just a few miles from the more famous Tan Hill hostelry.

Because if the dream of the ultimate weather-induced lock-in ever came to pass I do hope it would be at the CB – or the Charles Bathurst to give its Sunday name. No disrespect to Tan Hill – highest pub in England and all that - but I think the chances of a memorable meal would be considerably better at the CB, even without the Waitrose delivery.

Its reputation for good grub goes back quite a long way, superseding an earlier notoriety for being the regular location for a good Saturday night punch-up.

Owner Charles Cody took over what was a virtually derelict building back in 1996 and put it back on the map for all the right reasons and also branched out by taking on the Punch Bowl at Low Row – after a three-year closure - and, for a spell, the King’s Arms at Askrigg.

Briefly, it seemed like he was on a one-man mission to save Dales pubs.

The empire has retrenched a little which may actually be a good thing – I always have concerns when small hospitality businesses have too many plates to keep spinning.

But the CB has always been the empire’s mothership and, in our experience over most of those 20-odd years, consistently good.

A recent Sunday lunch outing there proved standards are still high and the inn, which hugs the barren lead mining-scarred landscape, is as popular as ever.

The early spring sunshine had brought out the visitors to the Dales and we knew we had done the right thing to book.

As we took our seats at a table tucked away but not far from the central bar, people were pouring in. I suggested to Sylvia that we might have to be patient (patience not being one of her stand-out qualities) but the prediction proved to be completely wrong. Service was swift and sure throughout.

The Sunday lunch menu is a joy for those not absolutely wedded to the traditional roast. The normal roasts are available but as an adjunct to the a la carte which is always presented on a giant mirror at one end of the bar.

The famous mirror menus at the CB have the novelty of not being on a blackboard but I’ve always found them slightly migraine inducing. But perhaps I’m overdue a trip to the opticians.

Whatever, we picked two starters from the mirror (tomato soup - £5.85 – for Sylvia and devilled whitebait - £5.95 – for me) and two roasts (rump of beef - £14.95 – for Sylvia and shoulder of lamb - £13.95 – for me).

We sat back to wait but everything arrived in pretty short order.

The starters were accompanied by some made-on-the-premises wholemeal bread with loads of butter which was ideal for Sylvia’s sweet and deeply flavoured tomato soup and also to mop up every last bit of the excellent garlic mayo which came with my whitebait – lightly floured with some dried mustard or cayenne pepper for the devilled element and crisply shallow fried.

Local sourcing is big at the CB and meat comes from Hammonds at Bainbridge which helps to explain why the roast meat we enjoyed was spot on. Sylvia raved about her beef – served just a little pink – and my lamb – slow roasted, pulled off the bone and re-packaged into a cylinder of soft Swaledale lambyness – was pretty good too if a little salty.

All the bit and pieces were as they should be, from silky, deeply-flavoured gravies, gargantuan but light Yorkshires, crisp roasties, smooth mash, nicely firm cauliflower cheese plus carrots, kale, broccoli and parsnip.

Puds were not required so apart from an affogato (a scoop of vanilla ice cream with a very big shot of espresso - £3.85) for me that was our lot. The bill of £48.85 included a half of Theakstons and a half of Moretti lager.

We’ll be back on Christmas Eve, if not before, and hoping for the mother of all snowstorms.

The Charles Bathurst Inn

Arkengarthdale, Reeth DL11 6EN

Tel: 01748 884567 Web:

Open for food: lunch noon-2.30pm; evenings 6.8.45pm

All dietary requirements catered for

Disabled access

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 9, Service 8, Surroundings 8 Value 7