From the top of the Pennines to the top of the best-selling book list, writes Jan Upton.
That’s the dream of a former Holme caretaker, who returns to Huddersfield next week to celebrate the launch of his book The Inn at the Top.
Neil Hanson will be back in town to give a talk about his time as the landlord at Britain’s highest inn.
Neil and his wife Sue took over the management of Tan Hill Inn in 1978, after hearing about the search for a new licensee for the remote hill-top pub.
Leaving their “idyllic existence” in Holme, where Neil worked as a caretaker for the village institute, the couple had only sheep, grouse and windswept customers for company.
Neil said: “ The wind was so ferocious that it could rip car doors from their hinges and force would-be customers to enter the pub on their hands and knees.
“It rained 250 days of the year – the other 115 it was probably drizzling – and in winter the pub was regularly cut off by snowdrifts for weeks on end.
“There were no mains services, and just a spring for water.
“It sounds ridiculous and who in their right minds would take on a place like that? But I was intrigued enough to apply and we got the job.”
Returning in 1984 as owners, Neil and Sue began the process of restoring the “rat-infested ruin” and persuaded Everest Double Glazing to film the famous commercial at Tan Hill with Ted Moult.
Neil said: “When we bought the inn, the windows were rotten, letting in draughts in summer and snow in winter.
“I wrote to the company suggesting the pub as a perfect location for a TV advertisement and within a fortnight we had new windows.”
It became the only commercial to make the Six O’clock news when the local planning officer unsuccessfully demanded the removal of the windows.
Although the Hansons sold up in 1985, the inn still has a “special place in my heart,” said Neil.
His book The Inn At The Top, is available from tomorrow and is said to be rich in anecdote and amusing characters.
Neil said: “ It’s an attempt to do for Dales pubs what James Herriot did for vets.”
Neil, now living in Ilkley, will be at Herbert’s Bar in Cross Church Street, Huddersfield, talking about his experiences as a landlord on Thursday, October 3 at 7.30pm.
The Inn At The Top is published by Michael O’Mara Books at £8.99