It was perhaps not the best of days to choose for a trample across Saddleworth Moor in pursuit of Roman remains. But a day off is a day off and has to be used to the full.
And so it was that I found myself scrambling up a bleak hillside to reach the Castleshaw fortlet, accompanied by Second Born and the Man-in-Charge.
It was bitter enough to dampen my usual enthusiasm for such things – and the sight of a dead sheep with its throat torn out had us muttering about whether there would be a Slaughtered Lamb pub awaiting us at the end of our travels and travails (as in a scene from An American Werewolf in London).
But after giving the fortlet a more cursory glance than it deserved we ended up at the more fortunately-named Waggon Inn in Uppermill.
A 19th century stone-built hostelry, it has a pleasing contemporary interior that has been tastefully and simply decorated, with parquet floors and stone walls. Not a slaughtered anything, or unfriendly local, in sight. Just a warm welcome from the front of house.
The delightful and neatly-attired little village of Uppermill, around 13 miles from Huddersfield, is not short of places to eat and drink.
We’d called in at the equally-delightful Saddleworth Museum and Gallery earlier in the day to view the exhibits and ask the receptionist if she could recommend somewhere. Her first suggestion was a place called Kitty’s (which features strongly on Trip Advisor), but when we pointed to the Waggon Inn, which is opposite the museum on the High Street, she said we could also expect to find good, but pricier, pub food there.
The menu does indeed lean towards gastro pub rather than simple pub grub.
Confit salmon, breaded Yorkshire halloumi, pan-roasted quail, beer and treacle-glazed ham and fillet of halibut all appear on the a la carte.
We were in the mood for something warm and hearty and spoilt for choice. The Man-in-Charge chose ale-battered haddock and chunky chips with mushy peas – a small portion for £9.25 that turned out to be not-so-small. It was, he said, perfectly cooked and just what was needed on the sort of day that must have had the Romans at Castleshaw dearly wishing they’d never set food in Britannia.
I was tempted by fish and chips, but the lunchtime specials menu was offering a crab risotto topped with crunchy prawns (£13.95), which I fancied more. It turned out to be a fairly modest but adequate portion of rich, creamy rice enhanced with a crab bisque. So far, so good. In fact, so far, so delicious. But I found the crunchy prawns more than a tad over-seasoned. In fact, it tasted very much as if someone had suffered a slip-up with the salt cellar in the kitchen. Removing the batter solved the salt crisis and overall I enjoyed the dish.
Second Born also chose a fishy lunch – a plate of monkfish scampi with a side dish of French fries and crayfish tartare (£13.95) – and had no complaints whatsoever. I tasted (nicked) one and the scampi batter was definitely not over-salted.
We would have liked to stay for pudding but the parking situation in Uppermill had us stumped. Even on a Tuesday morning the museum car park was full when we’d arrived and the only places we could find (we had two cars with us) were in a public pay and display with a two-hour limit.
Reluctant to get a parking ticket and spoil our day out we had to kiss goodbye the chance to partake in Yorkshire Rhubarb Bakewell with saffron cream and rhubarb and stem ginger sorbet (£6.25) and many other delights from the dessert menu. Sigh.
The Waggon Inn has a daily a la carte menu but also offers lunchtime specials at £16.95 for two courses or £19.95 for three. There are vegetarian options, but precious few choices for vegans.
While I’m not much of a beer drinker myself, both the Man-in-Charge and Second Born were more than interested in the pub’s wide selection of craft ales, both bottled and draught, delighting in names such as Dizzy Blonde, Trooper and Unicorn. They couldn’t partake, both being drivers, but there was a conversation that went along the lines of ‘you can drive us back here one evening’, ‘it would make a nice run out on a summer evening’.
And so we bid au revoir to Uppermill, a place that’s now firmly fixed in our repertoire of great days out.
The Waggon Inn
32 - 34 High Street, Uppermill, OL3 6HR
Open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from noon until 11pm and on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am until 11pm or midnight.
Booking is recommended.
Children are welcome but there is no separate menu.
Disabled access: The entrance is at street level and flat.
The bill: £42.80 including drinks.
Will you return: Undoubtedly.