The Old Bridge Inn in Ripponden has been sating the thirst and hunger of tired travellers since at the latest, the time of Edward II.
The hostelry, which was first recorded in 1307, is by the River Ryburn on what was once a principal trade route between Chester and York.
Paradoxically, the pub which takes its name from the bridge across the Ryburn is older than the bridge itself.
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The pub – presumably called something else in the days before the cobblestoned bridge – was craftily situated by a ford.
If the Ryburn was high and the ford was impassable, travellers would stay longer at the inn – and spend more money – until the water level fell and they could resume their journey.
I’ve been to the Old Bridge quite a few times and always enjoyed the food almost as much as I’ve enjoyed the surroundings.
Having visited a week earlier to discuss the pub’s history with landlady Lindsay Walker, I couldn’t not go back and try the food.
So I appeared with my wife and our children Rosa, 7, and Elijah, 3, for lunch a week later during the half-term holidays.
We booked expecting it to be busy but when we arrived at 2pm we were one of the few people in front of the bar.
The midweek lunch service ends at 2pm but the pub seemed more than happy to accommodate our request for a late lunch.
Besides, I’m all for a bit of quiet even if there was a fair risk of my kids shattering it. Maybe having a late lunch spared earlier diners of alternately over-excited and whinging children.
The Old Bridge’s menu is pretty much on the money for a venue of its kind. It’s basically home-cooked pub classics and a few other dishes.
My wife and I went for the pie of the day while Rosa had a burger and fries. We convinced Elijah he’d like a warm pork pie and fries.
The adults’ pies – a steak and ale pie and a meat and potato pie – came with skin-on chips fried in dripping and mushy peas.
Both our pies were pretty good with decent shortcrust pastry and tender braised beef inside.
The chips were good with a welcome bit of bite in the potato but it was the mushy peas – usually an afterthought – which really shone. Elijah wouldn’t eat his peas so Dustbin Dave had them too.
The Old Bridge was for 25 years the venue for the Pork Pie Appreciation Society’s national competition. The society’s president Kevin Booth still helps out at the pub so we expected something decent. Elijah tanned his pork pie – he used to shout ‘meat’ at the dinner table – so it must have been pretty good.
Rosa, who is a fussy eater even for a seven-year-old, did a pretty good job of her burger which was, at her behest, stripped of all sauces, cheese and vegetable bits. It looks like a decent patty and had I been feeling particularly gluttonous I’d have finished the bit she hadn’t.
Her fries did the job too.
Drinks wise, I had a half of Timothy Taylor Landlord Dark while Mrs Dave had a pint of Bread and Butter dry hopped pale ale, which is brewed up the hill at Cragg Vale.
Both were excellent brews served at the right temperature.
The kids had fruit juice and milk. It’s not a scintillating detail but don’t say I don’t review things thoroughly.
Overall, we were reasonably impressed with our lunch. The service was quick, efficient and friendly, the food reasonably good and the surroundings exceptional.
For a fraction less than £55, it was pretty spot on.
Medieval travellers may have had no choice but to stop at the Inn when the weather was bad. We, on the other hand, will choose to return even if it’s siling down.
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The Old Bridge Inn, Priest Ln, Ripponden, HX6 4DF
Food is served midweek 12pm-2pm and 5pm-9pm (9.30pm) on Saturday. Sunday lunch is served from 12pm-4pm.
Dogs are not allowed in the main pub but there is some covered outdoor seating where they are.
The main entrance is accessible by wheelchair although there are some steps down to the dining room and steps up to the loos.
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