Bubwith - An East Yorkshire village that whets the appetite of food lovers

The East Yorkshire village of Bubwith whets the appetite of food lover Chris Titley; Photographs by Neil Holmes

Many contenders vie for the title of Yorkshire’s food capital. Harrogate has the tearoom market cornered, Leeds’ trendy restaurant scene is booming, Whitby seafish is superb and you’ll not better Bradford curries.

To that shortlist I would humbly submit Bubwith. On the face of it this elegant East Yorkshire village is an unlikely gathering spot for gourmets. There is no International Bubwith Food and Drink Festival. Not a single TV chef has made his home here.

Nevertheless be warned. If you go to Bubwith hungry, you may never come back. This is a place where tastebuds are treated with the greatest reverence, where you can tuck into everything from a traditional Yorkshire pie to six types of olive, then wash it down with a world of fine wines, beers and coffees.

Let’s start with those pies. They are lovingly created by David Mounfield at JA Mounfield & Son butchers. He created the pork pie from his grandmother’s recipe with meat from locally-reared pigs, and it went on to win a national award. And the meat pies and sausage rolls are just as delicious.

If you’re a fan of spicier food, then you’re also in luck, for this is a village which has not one but two purveyors of curry. The Cinnamon Bangladeshi and  Indian Takeaway is next door to the well-stocked Spar on Main Street. Further up the road the imposing White Swan is also said to do some top tandoori.

Our next stop is at The Coffee House, also on Main Street. This is a modern and stylish spot to enjoy a proper Fair Trade cappuccino or two. It was opened in May 2009 by Natasha Rowe and her partner Paul.

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They left Watford and moved to Bubwith four years ago, finding the property on the internet and took to the village the moment they arrived. ‘It’s absolutely lovely,’ Natasha said.

Bubwith, they soon realised, ‘needed a coffee shop. It’s on one of the main coastal routes, and it complements the businesses already here. And it’s become a focal point for the community.’

The proper coffee is accompanied by locally-baked cakes including flapjacks, muffins and lemon cheesecake. You can also pick up a quirky gift or two. No wonder Bubwith Coffee Shop has more than 100 friends on Facebook. Natasha really appreciates the active community spirit alive in Bubwith.

There’s always something going on at the leisure centre, from boxercise classes to gigs by the Bogus Brothers to tea dances to the Father’s Day Fair – this year on a circus theme. ‘Bubwith’s quite unusual. It’s one of those villages that really does have fun,’ she added.

Across the road from the coffee shop is the Jug & Bottle. Calling it an off licence and deli doesn’t do it justice; a cornucopia of delights is nearer the mark. The store opened seven yearsago, and five years later moved into the old Victorian school, beautifully converted by owners Louise and Doug Smith with the help of Doug’s father Les, who has run his  joinery business in Bubwith for 51 years.

‘There are still people in the village who come in and know exactly where they sat when they came to the school,’ Louise said. ‘The main shop was the infants’ classroom – the junior classroom is now divided into half of our kitchen and half of the storeroom. The old headmaster’s office is our living room. It’s nice being part of the history of the village.’

One of their loves is real ale, and the Jug & Bottle serves proper draught beer to take away from four handpulls on the counter. There’s also a wonderful array of bottled beers, ciders and wines from near and far, not to mention sloe vodka, brandy and gin from Sloemotion of Barton-le-Willows near York. The range of soft drinks is almost as extensive.

The deli counter sells pies and pasties, those six different types of olive, chicken liver pat� with brandy, specialist breads and more. There’s the Jug & Bottle’s own-label jam alongside jars of pickles, oils and chutneys.

The shop has won numerous awards, including Best Community Off-Licence and a couple of honours from the Campaign for Real Ale. People travel from as far as Manchester and Oxford to shop at the Jug & Bottle. And the shop’s well supported by the locals. ‘Bubwith’s a great village with really good facilities,’ Louise adds.

After all that food and drink, how about some exercise? Thankfully Bubwith is a great spot for walks or cycle rides. From the Toll Bridge picnic area you can take a short stroll by the River Derwent – this area is part of the Lower Derwent Valley Nature Reserve, a flood plain which has remained largely unchanged for 1,000 years.

Footpaths around Bubwith also form part of longer trails, including the Howden 20 and the Howdenshire Rail Trail, along the route of a railway line axed by Dr Beeching. You can join it at  Dingle Dell just south of the village.

You no longer have to pay to cross the Toll Bridge. Charges were abolished in 1936. When it was built in 1798, it replaced a ferry service which locals complained was ‘dangerous and inconvenient’. Back then you could take six horses across the bridge for three shillings or an ox for 10 old pence.

All Saints Church dates from the 12th century. Its tower was built by one of the village’s famous sons, Nicholas Bubwith, who became Lord Privy Seal in 1405, Lord High Treasurer two years later, and was Bishop of Bath and Wells till his death in 1424.

An RAF memorial stands in the All Saints churchyard, to those who served in 78 Squadron 4 Group Bomber Command during the Second World War. It’s a reminder of the area’s long connections to manned flight. Long before Halifax, Wellington and Lancaster bombers from 78 Squadron took off on treacherous missions from Breighton airfield south of Bubwith, airships flew over the village from stations at Spaldington and Howden.

Fact File

Getting there: Bubwith is on the A163 east of Selby, close to the junction with the B1228.

Where to park: At the Toll Bridge picnic area, or behind the shops – go through the archway next to the Cinnamon takeaway.

What to do: Enjoy the food and drink at the pub, coffee shop, deli, butchers and takeaway. Walk along one of the footpaths that can be found in and near the village. Take part in one of the events at the Leisure Centre, or play a round at the Oaks Golf Club.