Coffee, tea and cake in Easingwold – easing our way into North Yorkshire

The Fancy a Cuppa? project for 2013 kicked off yesterday with a wonderful day out in Easingwold.

This picturesque North Yorkshire town made a great place to start our tour of the county’s market towns in search of the best places for tea, coffee and cake.

Welcome to Easingwold

Easingwold has no Victorian spa, no mediaeval ruins, no moody moorland, so it probably isn’t on the radar of most visitors to Yorkshire. But it’s a little gem, with its Georgian houses and wide grassy verges.

It was once the first stopping point for the York to Newcastle stagecoaches, and is well worth a visit if you’re anywhere near the A19 or the Howardian Hills.

Easingwold to York

My first port of call was the visitor centre. It’s been totally volunteer-run since the council withdrew funding some time ago. These guys not only run a fantastic website ( www.visit-easingwold.com ) but they can steer you in the direction you want, whether you’re a walker, a cyclist, a day-tripper or a tea-drinker…

Of course they’re not in the business of recommending any particular tea room or coffee shop in town, but I’d already spotted the first venue I wanted to try right in the middle of Easingwold’s Market Place.

View out of Tea-Hee coffee shop tea room in Easingwold

Tea-Hee is a top quality place for a cuppa. It calls itself a cheesemonger and espresso bar, though actually its name suggests tea rather than coffee (and I can vouch for its excellent loose-leaf teas as well as its cappuccino).

The cheeses did look good, but of course the Fancy a Cuppa? focus is on cake. And, wow, these are good cakes. Tea-Hee’s head chef Dan adds a personal touch to the recipes. There was an intriguing spice to the Tunisian orange sponge, and the cranberry and treacle tart was so good that I was sad to see I had the last slice…

Coffee and cake in Tea-Hee in Easingwold

There’s a great atmosphere inside, too. You’re in Yorkshire now, so you’ll almost certainly engage in conversation with the people on the neighbouring table. Most customers are locals, but newcomers like me are not left out (and the chap on the next table had some good tips for my trip to Knaresborough later this month)…

Easingwold has a few good stories to tell, too, as I found out by dropping into an extraordinary little music and DVD shop in Doreen’s back garden behind the Post Office. Doreen is a former church warden round here, and her family connections to Easingwold go back generations.

She’s the one who steered me towards the parish church, where they hold England’s only intact ‘poor coffin’ (used for those who couldn’t afford a coffin of their own), and there’s the little local legend of Nana Ran Dan (just don’t run round her gravestone at night…).

Back at the Market Place, I was ready for a pot of tea. And I’d heard that The Sugar Mouse was worth a try.

What a great little place. Former journalist Angela set up her sweet shop a couple of years ago but began to serve tea, coffee and cakes when she moved to these new premises just two doors along from Tea-Hee.

If you can drag your gaze away from the Dolly Mixture, Humbugs and Rhubard & Custard sweets, you’ll see they do a nice little line in loose-leaf teas from Newby’s in London, and Angela’s daughter bakes a mean scone or traybake to have with your cuppa.

Pot of Newby's Tea at Sugar Mouse in Easingwold

This is a great place to come with the kids (they have 95 milkshake flavours and a whole load of lovely ice creams out the back, too), but it’s also a nice place for a quiet cuppa on your own to finish off a day’s sight-seeing.

Sugar Mouse sweet shop and café in Easingwold

I loved Angela’s story of career change and her go-for-it attitude, so typical of people who start their own coffee shop or tea room business. But isn’t it amazing how many former journalists get into this kind of thing (I might have to start a new network to hook up the hacks and see if there are any lessons to be learnt).

But I can’t leave Easingwold without a final reference to the message over the door of their former school (now library): Learn or Leave, it says. A Victoria take on ‘Live and Learn’? A gruff, Yorkshire imperative?

Learn or Leave at Easingwold library

In any case, I was about to leave, but I’d learnt what a lovely place Easingwold is, and not only for coffee, tea and cake…

Video to follow soon.

 

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7 Responses to Coffee, tea and cake in Easingwold – easing our way into North Yorkshire

  1. J. G. says:

    Fantastic post! got a plan in the making to visit Yorkshire so this was a welcome treat.

    What is the story on “Nana Ran Dan”? Love the “Learn or Leave” sign.

    • admin says:

      So glad you liked the post – if you’re interested in Yorkshire, watch this space because I’ll be blogging from about 40 towns over the next 4-5 months!

      As to Nana Ran Dan, she died in 1745. Her gravestone carries quite a long epitaph about her character: she ‘was chaste, but no prude; and tho’ free, yet no harlot;by principle virtuous, by education a protestant… her tongue and her hands were ungovernable, but the rest of her members she kept in subjection…’

      She ran a local pub in town and was quite a character it seems. And the local legend has it that if you run three times around her grave at midnight, she’ll reappear in front of you.

      I didn’t stay around to find out…

      • J. G. says:

        Sounds good! Thanks for the Nana Ran Dan info, something to keep in mind should I ever wander over to her area.

  2. B.K. says:

    Great article about Easingwold and also pleased you picked up on the Learn or Leave sign – we love our library and fought hard to keep it open against proposed council cuts. I hope you pay a visit to the Abbey Inn Tea Rooms next to Byland Abbey. Just reopened at Easter, run by English Heritage – only open on Friday, Sat, Sun at the moment. Perfect stopping place for cyclists, walkers and of course visitors to the Abbey. So pleased it has reopened – I’m a fan.

    • admin says:

      Thanks B.K. – yes, it’s a lovely town. Thanks also for the suggestion re: Byland Abbey. I’m prioritising North Yorkshire’s market towns first this year, but will come back to follow up tips like this later in the year.

  3. Alfred Boddison says:

    Learn or Leave ? – I attended The Church Of England School and did both. The Headmaster was Ron Idle – he used to say to his charges “I was born Idle, you weren’t, get on with the work” !

    • admin says:

      Great name your headmaster had. No relation to the Monty Python star, I don’t suppose? In any case thanks for your comment; Easingwold had lots of little gems I thought, as well as great spots for tea and coffee.

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