By Angela Cunningham

“Sport? History? Church?” Well, perhaps I am expecting a little too much for the Dizzy Goddaughter (DG) to be interested in today’s venue, at mention of the three subjects she has no enthusiasm for at all. I dig deeper,

“They say the cakes are wonderful.” That kindles a tiny spark.

“Oh go on then,” she mutters, “but they’d better be good, it’s quite a way to travel for a disappointment.”

It’s worth the little drive out from Otley to Fewston, even though the weather has turned drear, a complete downturn from the wall to wall sunshine we’ve had for the past few weeks. The rain has transformed the landscape into a fresh shimmering green as if saying thank you for the welcome drink, and the sheep and cows are huddled together companionably for shelter.

Hardier folk than us have reached this little haven, situated mid-way around Swinsty Reservoir, via a path from the water’s edge, through ancient woodland. It’s a convenient watering hole for weekend walkers and draws them in all weathers, be it for a warming bowl of soup in winter or an ice cool drink in the summer.

The car park is invitingly full and it’s just a short walk along an easy path to the heritage centre and café, adjoining the sweet little village church. Despite the rain it’s warm, and we are grateful that the bi-fold doors along the whole of one side of the building are open. They lead to sheltered exterior seating on a circular terrace, perfect for al fresco dining on a drier day.

It may seem odd to attach a modern building to an ancient grade II* listed church, but the two marry well. The interior walls are hung with information boards detailing facts about the area. In this year of sport it’s not surprising that they are celebrating the Washburn Valley’s sporting heritage. There’s no end of interesting photography and detail. It’s hard to believe that such a small community can demonstrate centuries of prowess in no less than nine different sports.

DG tweeks at the posy of wild flowers that decorate our table. “Okay, so history can be sort of interesting, but what about placing our order?” she remonstrates.

We order at the hatch, that opens onto a small pristine kitchen manned entirely by volunteers, who, I’m told, have also made the delicious looking cakes on offer. Our sandwiches are prepared to order, in soft, wholemeal bread with generous portions of crunchy Waldorf and green salad on the side. My smoked salmon, cream cheese and cucumber is refreshingly good and DG is delighted with her hearty cheese and chutney.

I promised cake, so feel I mustn’t disappoint. There are two varieties of lemon cake, fruit cake, Bakewell tart, chocolate fudge cake and fruit scones. I plump for the Bakewell and DG chooses lemon, both flavoursome, light and crumbly, and we add a top up of the bold coffee to our order.

I’ve won DG over, in the end she agrees this is a delightful little spot and her original reluctance was unfounded. But I resist the urge to suggest we look round the church – maybe next time…

Washburn Heritage Centre




01943 880794

Opening Times:

Saturdays and Sundays 11.00am to 4.30pm

Last Friday of each month 10.30am to 12.00 noon (Tea/coffee and cakes)

Coffee £2.00

Sandwich £4.00

Scone £2.00