At the Tennants Arms Hotel, guests are now being invited to catch their own lunch. We headed to the Yorkshire Dales to take up the challenge.
I t is apparently all in the wrist. However, like most things it’s not quite as simple as that. When it comes to the art of fishing you also have to be patient – very patient – be able to untangle a line without severing your finger on a razor sharp hook and should you be lucky enough to get a bite you also need to be handy with a small wooden truncheon or have someone nearby willing to oblige.
Fortunately, at Kilnsey Park in the Yorkshire Dales, Dai Morris is that someone. A Welshman who has now made Upper Wharfedale his home, he may well have learnt to fish before he could tie his own shoelaces and he now teaches others how to land trout on the estate’s various lakes.
“Keep your wrist locked, move your arm from 11 o’clock to 2 o’clock and then snap it back again,” he explains whilst demonstrating the correct movement. Done properly it’s slightly mesmerising. Not done properly and there’s every chance you might hook a small child on the opposite bank.
However, there is an impetus to master the art of casting off because if we don’t catch, we don’t eat. The Stay, Catch and Cook package has recently been launched by the team behind the Tennants Arms Hotel as a way of giving guests the opportunity to discover more about the Dales.
Nestled under the iconic Kilnsey Crag, the hotel has arguably one of the best locations in the whole of the Dales, but until recently it was a little down on its luck. Salvation came in the shape of 25 year old chef Tom Garland-Jones who arrived at the end of last year with bags of enthusiasm, a new vision for the place and just as importantly, his mum.
Rachel has been helping her son with the renovations and with the rooms and public areas having been given a bit of a makeover they are now looking to attract visitors with a series of tailormade activity packages. There are plans for horse riding and mountain biking themed breaks, but with Kilnsey Park just next door it made sense to start with fly fishing.
“I used to come up here for pure pleasure and when I found out they were looking for someone to help run the place I never left ,” says Dai, who has helped to launch the first of the themed packages which sees guests given a half day fishing lesson and afterwards the catch will be served up the kitchen team at the Tennants.
Dai breaks off: “Ooh look you’ve got something there…”
As I manage to land my first ever catch Dai kindly demonstrates why the small wooden truncheon is one of angling’s key pieces of equipment. I feel, though, a bit of a fraud. The family lakes at Kilnsey are purposefully stocked with a large number of willing fish so you only have to dangle your line in the water and one will hop on the end of it.
The serious anglers cast off on the main lakes just opposite and there all hope that I might flourish into a champion angler is quickly extinguished. My arm starts to ache, I can’t seem to cast out more than about two feet and when the line gets tangled in a small bush, I admit defeat.
However, while I have been busy demonstrating how not to fish, our early catches have been gutted and filleted and are ready for collection. The bounty goes straight to Tom, who is just starting lunch service, and within a few minutes he has whipped up the Tennants Arms’ signature dish – trout carbonara.
It’s a rich, creamy affair, the helpings are generous and pasta and fish turns out to be a perfect combination. It’s all the more satisfying knowing you caught it yourself and Tom is confident that this is just the start.
He says: “This is the perfect place to explore the Yorkshire Dales and our aim is to encourage people to come here and discover more about this beautiful part of the world.”