The five best… pubs on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Leeds & Liverpool Canal milepost
Leeds & Liverpool Canal milepost

Having just spent a fortnight narrowboating on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, I’ve found a few favourites along the way. Here they are, in no order whatsoever.

Beer Engine, Skipton
Open just over a year, this one-room micropub is simply but comfortably furnished, with custom-built cask racks behind the bar from which you can see the beer flowing along the pipes. It won CAMRA Pub of the Season and had a party to celebrate, which we were invited to, but missed due to an appointment with some locks. A warm welcome and a friendly clientele. And newspapers to read.


Narrow Boat, Skipton
Just around the corner from the Beer Engine. Set on a narrow cobbled street, leading to the canal basin, it has a pillared overhang outside, and a wooden interior, with canal-style decorations with a gallery upstairs. Lots of draught beer, Belgian fruit beers, and the sound of folk singing coming from upstairs.
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Mason’s Arms, Gargrave
There are oak beams and an open fire are inside this solid stone-built pub near the river Aire, apparently. I saw none of that as it was so hot I sat at a table outside across the road by a dry stone wall. Lovely pint of local cider and a fantastic lunch featuring a veggie chilli-filled Yorkshire pudding and a very imaginative selection of veg including purple mange-tout.
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Anchor Inn, Salterforth
Sometimes a warm, dry pub seems like heaven after a long, rainy day on the tiller or working the locks. The white-painted canalside Anchor appeared at the perfect time, and, even better, was serving dinner. And better still, something to suit a fussy vegetarian! The pub dates back to 1655 and is built partially underground – the cellar has impressive stalactites. And after dinner, just a 50-yard stroll back to where the boat was moored.
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Green Chimney, Colne
Bare, painted brickwork, exposed-filament lights – and a bright green painted chimney in the middle of this café/bar/restaurant. Local food, local ales and live music. We ate well and although the halloumi on my chickpea burger was oddly tasteless, the best sweet potato chips I’ve ever had: crispy, not soggy. Bloody long way from the canal, though!
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  1. You’ve just given a great idea for our next holiday, thanks! Appreciate how you make mention of the vegetarian options too. This is something we noticed travelling through England a few years ago – good options for vegos in pubs – a complete, but welcome, surprise. In Australia you’re pretty much stuck with chips, or a vegie burger if you’re lucky.


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