Ever since I had the pleasure of meeting Simon Heaton, who owns the historic Shibden Mill Inn in West Yorkshire with his wife Caitlin, I’ve been keen to tell the story of his involvement with the establishment. The Shibden Mill Inn dates back to the seventeenth century, when it was a corn mill, powered by Red Beck, which still flows past the front of the property.
Simon purchased The Shibden Mill Inn in 1998 without any prior experience of running a hospitality business. Back then it was run down but the couple saw huge potential for making it what it is today, having lived locally and admired it from afar for some time. What began as an exciting restoration project is now an ongoing interior design showcase. Caitlin oversees the internal décor; she has a great eye for detail, colours and textures. What really influences the design is being aware and sensitive to the historic nature of the property, whilst creating a sumptuous retreat with the luxuries paying guests would expect from an AA 4Star Inn.
They work hard to provide a very distinctive form of hospitality, a warm West Yorkshire welcome to all who visit. Guests travel to stay in one of their eleven bedrooms from all over the UK and around the world, in order to enjoy the showcasing of the finest local produce and beers from the region’s many tremendous breweries. They are genuinely passionate about the unique ‘Shibden’ way that they do things, right across the inn.
The way in which their food is presented, the Shibden Ale at the bar and friendly nature of the staff all blend together to create this particular way of doing things. Another noteworthy focus is the manner in which the multi-award winning team in the kitchen combine local ingredients to produce inspired twists on popular classics. Their broad range of menu options combines with a commitment to the maintenance of high quality.
Regional attractions are an appealing blend of the bustling metropolis of Leeds and the idyllic countryside, perfect for long walks and nature-spotting. Shibden Hall is on the doorstep and the fascinating National Media Museum is in close proximity too, not to mention the fabulous Dales.
Simon and Caitlin are justly proud to have been named Yorkshire’s Favourite Pub 2011/12 at The Great Yorkshire Show. This was organised by Welcome Yorkshire and received national press and media attention: it’s a really big deal. As well as all the other positives, this award was grounded in the achievement of a commitment to local produce, history and ideals. Next on the couple’s ambitious wish list is to achieve 5 Star Inn status, and they are evidently well on the way. They take great pleasure in their volume of repeat business, with a growing, loyal global following. Why not go and experience the Shibden Way for yourself?