Ilkley can lay claim to being the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales for the people of Leeds, and it is a fine destination in its own right for a bracing walk on the moor.
All that walking requires refreshment and despite the town’s small size, there are a number of options to wet one’s whistle, not least The Black Hat.
Located on Church Street, just off the town centre’s main junction, this traditional bar with a modern twist offers welcoming warmth off the wintery streets.
An relaxed atmosphere greeted this Barfly one midweek evening. Pop music played out around the long L-shaped room which is dressed up with olive/brown wood panels around the walls, polished wooden floorboards, exposed lightbulbs set in what look like jam jars and others at the end of metal tentacle-style fixtures.
Sprawled around this spacious venue are polished wood tables, chairs with tartan padding and burgundy coloured Chesterfield-style benches.
I take a table by bookshelves bedecked with bird bookends, a ceramic white owl and a large, white wooden star. A sculpture of a green horse’s head sits on a windowsill.
At the bar the choice is wide with the option of about ten draught largers and beers including premium tipples such as Moretti, Estrella Damm, Peroni and Kozel, and Yorkshire ales such as Timothy Taylor’s Landlord and Saltaire Blonde.
Service was swift as I opted for a local selection, a pint of Ilkley Brewery’s Alpha Beta, a delicious session IPA packed with Citra hops which comes with a hefty £4.60 price tag that it typical of craft beer today.
According to the bar’s literature it serves delightful drinks from coffee to nightcaps and everything in between and there’s evidence of such a boast.
There’s a cocktail selection that focuses on the classics, plus wines, rosé and prosecco.
Those with a penchant for bubbles would do well to call by here for Fizz Fridays when there is 50 per cent off the price of bottles of house champagne between 5-7pm.
Outside of those hours on the last weekday each week, the Fish & Fizz Friday offer is available all day, comprising of a choice of fish dishes and a glass of prosecco for £10 a head.
Not just a wet bar, food is served too and a new menu is about to launch for the festive season, available throughout December: two courses for £16.50 and three courses for £21.50.
Aside from the festive fayre, the Hat also takes bookings for Sunday roasts.
A sleek but relaxed retreat from all those hours pounding the moors, The Black Hat offers wide choice and local ale; somewhere worth a look the next time the gateway to the Dales draws your attention.