To spot the Northern Lights, you’ll need clear skies, but in recent years Tan Hill has made headlines for its exceptionally snowy skies. In November 2021, 3ft of snow fell outside the Tan Hill Inn during Storm Arwen and left those enjoying an Oasis tribute act stranded for three days. The story made national news, and a reunion of the snowed-in guests is planned for this year. The inn is adept at handling such disasters, and stranded staff members and guests simply stay overnight in the inn’s guestrooms upstairs. However, it does create some logistical and staffing issues, and the team must think fast and creatively to cope in difficult weather. On one such night, Hayley did.
“I said my husband has bar experience – [just] not here,” she laughed, “but bar experience all the same. We ran the barn together for over 100 people attending a tribute act night.”
Understaffing is all too familiar in hospitality, especially with rising living costs narrowing profit margins. Tan Hill Inn experiences these issues much more acutely, with harsher conditions, colder rooms to heat and the underlying worry that staff won’t manage their commute. When I showed up, Hayley’s teenage daughter was helping work the tables after another employee couldn’t make it in.
According to the Tan Hill Inn’s manager, Nicola, running such a remote pub requires strict organisation. Case in point: the pub relies on diesel deliveries for electricity. “As long as we order on time, we don’t have any issues,” she said. “The owner has upgraded the system, and he is able to check online how much is left in the tank.”
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