England

Historic pub to be 'Britain's highest whisky distillery'

Cat & Fiddle in 1907 Image copyright Forest Distillery
Image caption The Cat and Fiddle Inn (pictured in 1907) opened in 1813 and is 1,689 ft (515m) above sea level

The new owners of a derelict 206-year-old pub say they hope to reopen it as "Britain's highest whisky distillery".

The Cat and Fiddle Inn, which opened in 1813 and is 1,689ft (515m) above sea level in the Peak District, closed in 2015 after years of "not trading well".

Owner Karl Bond said he bought the pub, on the Derbyshire-Cheshire border, to store whisky barrels, but now aimed to diversify it and reopen in April.

The pub gives its name to the notorious A537 between Buxton and Macclesfield.

At 1,164 ft (354m), Dalwhinnie in the Scottish Highlands claims to be the current highest distillery.

Cat & Fiddle sign in 1980s (left) and 2019 Image copyright Forest Distillery
Image caption The pub sign would change when it is renamed the Cat & Fiddle & Weasel (1980s sign left and 2019)

Mr Bond and his wife Lindsay also own The Forest Distillery Chambers Farm, in nearby Macclesfield Forest.

He said he took over the pub lease in October because the cellars were "perfect for maturing whisky".

"We walked through the old bar and chatted about what a shame it was that nobody would ever drink in there again," he said.

"It became pretty apparent that if we didn't do it, then nobody would."

Cat & Fiddle in winter 1978 Image copyright Forest Distillery
Image caption The pub (pictured in 1978) is situated in a remote setting on the A537 Cat and Fiddle Road

He added: "The pub has not been trading well for the last 20 years - one reason because you have to drive there, it's high up.

"We are diversifying it and we'll reopen as the Cat & Fiddle & Weasel, which will be Britain's highest whisky distillery."

Mr Bond said it would cost at least £250,000 to renovate the building, which would include a pub and a deli shop.

The couple launched an online appeal to help with the costs, which met its £50,000 target earlier this month.

Cat & Fiddle Image copyright Forest Distillery
Image caption Owner Karl Bond claims the pub would be "Britain's highest whisky distillery"

The Cat and Fiddle is the second highest pub in the UK. The Tan Hill Inn, in Richmond, North Yorkshire Dales, stands as the highest at 1,732ft (528m) above sea level.

Gathering of motor cars outside Cat & Fiddle in June 1907 Image copyright Forest Distillery
Image caption Cars have gathered at the Cat and Fiddle over the decades (picture June 1907)
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