Funnily enough, all my previous visits to Bedale had involved bread.
You see, this market town just a short hop from where we live in North Yorkshire hit national headlines a few years ago when its community bakery became the subject of one of those reality fly-on-the-wall TV series. And they do make very good bread, so my day in Bedale this week began back at Bedale Station, where the bakery used to be based.
But the bakery has moved just over the road and its place has been taken by…a coffee shop! Oh, yes, we hit the jackpot!
The move happened only a few weeks ago so the Whistle Stop Café owner Donna and her assistant Katherine are still finding their feet. But this is a real plus for coffee and tea lovers in Bedale.
There’s quality coffee (from York Coffee Emporium) and home-baked scones and cakes crying out to be eaten. The Victoria Sponge, with fresh strawberries in the middle, was too good to miss…
When you throw in the odd steam train chugging past and the plum tree outside providing a good crop of fruit for their home-made jam, this place has everything needed to fit the Fancy a Cuppa? favourites.
In fact, it was so good that once I’d done my tour round town, I returned to try their tea – they stock tea from a supplier I’d not come across before: Metropolitan Tea Company. It’s all tea bags, but in those pyramids that give the leaves more space to breathe so a step up from your standard tea bag – made a nice brew!
The best bits of Bedale are all within a few yards of the Whistle Stop Cafe in my view. There’s the Wensleydale Railway, run by volunteers, with fabulous steam and diesel engines trundling between Leeming Bar and Leyburn; there’s the community bakery with its brilliant bread; and there’s the Leech House…
Yes, down by the river, just near the station, is a listed building, which looks fairly innocuous at first, but is where local doctors would store their leeches, when ‘bleeding’ was part of the cure rather than the symptom.
Now, strictly speaking, all the places I’ve mentioned are outside the Bedale boundary, over the river into Aiskew. Bedale proper has a magnificent wide market place cum high street, but nothing else that got my pulse racing.
Apparently the golf club is very good. But our 19th hole will remain back at the Station at the Whistle Stop! You can’t beat a good cuppa at an old railway station…It’s another theme I’d often thought of writing about, but that’s a future project…