Snow Strands tens for 3 nights at the Yorkshire pub


Danny Lawson – Pa Images / PA Images via Getty Images

The Tan Hill Inn in Yorkshire Dales National Park after the lightest snow in March

On Friday night, dozens of people faced the cold and headed to a remote pub in Yorkshire, England, to listen to live music and enjoy a few drinks.

Three days later, they finally left.

The unexpected stay was the result of storm Arwen, which covered the region with heavy snow and ravaged power lines with winds of up to 98 mph, leaving tens of thousands of people without electricity.

More than 100 tickets had been sold for Friday’s performance by the Oasis tribute band, Noasis, at the Tan Hill Inn, but in the end, only 61 people made their way to the pub. As the wind blew outside, the partygoers in the pub’s music room danced and rocked to the rock version of the band’s “Wonderwall.”

Then it started to snow outside. And snow. And snow.

“It was mental. You opened the door and you could see how far it was,” said Becky Longthorp, who had traveled two hours from her home to see the band. “We had been drinking too, so I felt disoriented. I said, ‘This is dangerous.’

That’s when everyone at the Tan Hill Inn (guests, staff, even the band) decided to spend the night. And then on Saturday, they stayed another. And then another.

“We arrived on Friday and with the weather getting stronger, I knew it was going to be a long weekend!” patron Tom Rigby told BuzzFeed News.

Like many British taverns, the Tan Hill Inn has some rooms and beds, but certainly not for so many people. Some had traveled to the concert in camper vans, but many others had planned to leave after the show. Longthorp intended to camp in a tent. Instead, they all had to sleep in the pub.

“It was a snowstorm. It was crazy. The wind had torn the tent to pieces,” Longthorp said. “The first night we were maybe 15 on the couches. We just got where we could. It was like adult pajamas!”

“That’s when we woke up on Saturday morning, and you’re thinking, Wait a second. This is not so much fun.

Courtesy of Tom Rigby

Guests sleeping on the floor of the pub

Located in Yorkshire Dales National Park, Tan Hill Inn is the highest pub in Britain, at an altitude of 1,732 feet above sea level. Snow is a common headache. When the former owner sold the pub in 2017, he warned that it had been snowed about 50 times in his 12 years there. In 2010, 30 New Year’s Eve festivities were held for three days. About 200 people were forced to spend the night in 2016 after seeing the band Scouting for Girls perform.

When the sun came out this Saturday after that first night, the scene around the Tan Hill Inn looked like a frozen tundra. The cars had been shrouded in snow, which blocked the doors and windows of the pub. Even if he could get out, area officials warned that it was not yet safe to drive.

A meeting was held in the room where the band had played the night before. Everyone should keep staying. But with power lines down and abandoned vehicles blocking the roads, those trapped knew the aid was far away.

“However, we were warm and safe, so we had to accept the situation!” Rigby said.

Courtesy of Tom Rigby

Snow Saturday outside the pub

To pass the time, guests played board and card games with each other. They sang karaoke and did a curiosity contest. The band, which apologized to fans for not being able to do their next show in Essex, even sang a few more songs. Some meals were free, but others were sold at half price. Alcohol kept flowing: after all, it’s a pub.

“We’ve all been drinking solidly for three days,” Longthorp said. “I think they got their money.”

As word of the pub’s situation spread, tavern owner Nicola Townsend began interviewing the media. He appeared on British morning television, Sky News, the BBC and on the radio. She was interviewed by the New York Times. History made headlines in Italy, Germany and Sweden. All the while, she was still trapped.

“It’s like having a very large group of friends for dinner,” Townsend told the Telegraph. “They’ve made a great friendship, like a big family is the best way to describe it. In fact, a lady said, ‘I don’t want to leave.'”

The guests praised the hardworking staff, who protected them and fed them hot dinners. Customers went through a collection tray, raising hundreds of dollars to thank the seven employees for their unexpected three-day shifts.

On Monday morning, the snowplows had cleared the neighboring roads and finally the guests could leave. Longthorp said she was delighted to come home and change into the clothes she had been wearing since Friday. Rigby said he was relieved to be back in his own bed.

“We were definitely ready for a shower, but I think we’ll be fine with wine one or two nights now,” he said.

On the pub’s Facebook page, staff shared a photo of guests crowded into the music room, stranded but smiling. “We will ALWAYS remember this amazing group of people who came together and hopefully, in difficult circumstances, enjoyed what we all thought was a life-changing experience,” the bar staff wrote.

There is already talk that guests may return to the Tan Hill Inn next year for a meeting, though perhaps with more supplies for the evening.

“I think that’s the whole spirit,” Longthorp said of the overall appeal of the story. “Everyone’s thought of getting stuck somewhere. But in a pub? How cool is that!”

November 29, 2021 at 10:42 p.m.

Correction: Tom Rigby’s last name was misspelled in an earlier version of this story.