Pub lets people eat in socially-distanced bubbles under the stars

Among talk of tiers and circuit-breaker lockdowns, we’re still figuring out what life looks like as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Dining out, for example. After months of not being able to do that, we’ve learned to really appreciate the simple pleasure of going somewhere other than our own kitchen, but it’s still vital we stay safe.

One way to meet in the middle point between celebrating life’s pleasures and being mindful of the dangers of Covid-19? These skygazing pods.

A pub up in Swaledale, North Yorkshire, is now offering socially distanced bubbles for people to sit in and drink, eat, and chat, all under the stars.

Tan Hill Inn is a designated Dark Skies location – meaning it’s one of the spots that’s away from the worst of any local light pollution and provides beautiful views of the night sky – so it’s the perfect place for some stargazing.

The pub, which dates back to the 17th Century, is making the most of its location by introducing festive pods for the winter.

Guests will be able to enjoy the views in specially-built bubbles made out of polycarbonate, a material 200 times stronger than glass and chosen to weather the perils of the pub’s remote location, standing 1,732 feet above sea level.

Andrew Hields bought Tan Hill in summer 2018 with his business partner and believes the pods are an ideal combination for the pub’s location and nationwide coronavirus restrictions.

The 35-year-old said: ‘Tan Hill is surrounded by views, the beautiful cloud gazing and star gazing.

‘As well as it being ideal for people who want to take in Tan Hill’s surroundings, natural beauty and landscape, it actually made a lot of sense from a Covid point of view.

‘Running up to Christmas it offers something a little bit special while giving you that security.

‘What we have is an extra level of dining where you don’t have to interact with anybody and you still get to be warm, listen to music and have fantastic food and fantastic drink but without having to run a minor risk.’

The Bradford-born businessman, who runs five other businesses in the construction and energy sectors, said the pub is recovering from recent challenging times.

Tan Hill closed to avoid drawing visitors to the Yorkshire Dales during the coronavirus lockdown, which resulted in an estimated £500,000 of lost trade, and placed staff on furlough.

He said: ‘Initially when we were locked down it massively affected the business. It was a very challenging time, personally and professionally and for all the businesses.’

Since reopening, the pub has been busy putting a series of safety measures in place, including implementing a table pager system for customers, safety screens and a one-way system.

‘We have been ahead of the curve and ahead of everything when it comes to making our establishment safe,’ Andrew added.

‘We don’t just want to be the highest inn in Britain – we want to be a beacon for the Dales, so that customers who come here stop off somewhere else and spend money there too.’

Dome Dining prices range from £50 – £65 depending on the day and time or £250 for couples, which includes a night of accommodation.

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