A FARMER wearing an apron is a rare sight indeed, but anyone visiting Town End Farm Shop and Tearoom (Airton) might well experience such an occasion.

For Chris and Jane Hall (no relative) are the third generation to farm Town End. However, losing the animals during the foot and mouth outbreak caused them to re-think and to change direction: hence the shop and tearoom.

Situated on the main road to Malham and with the Pennine Way running close by, it is a very pleasant venue for walkers, cyclists and motorists alike. Much thought has been given to the conversion of a cowshed, making it a comfortable spot for a welcome break as well as opportunity to browse the gifts and locally sourced produced.

It also has plenty of parking (usually patrolled by free-range hens which had unfortunately fallen victim to a raiding fox).

Being the start of lambing season, a farmer friend didn't take much persuasion to join me for lunch as an alternative to having to make our own.

We both chose soup for a starter: one vegetable and the other onion. Both were served piping hot with chunky bread on the side.

It was only then that we realised how substantial the portions were. We perhaps wouldn't have so ambitiously chosen to follow it with home-made quiche, served with chutney, creamy coleslaw and more chunky bread, and pork casserole served in a Yorkshire pudding.

We were so full we couldn't attempt any afters' there and then. Not to miss out though, we didn't resist the cake department and cheated by taking a doggy bag to enjoy them later: currant pasty and a piece of chocolate tray-bake.

The menu clearly has passing trade in mind for coffee, snacks and light lunches (unless you're greedy like us). The menu is made up of old faithfuls like soup, sandwiches, toasted sandwiches and jacket potatoes. It also has some more substantial offerings like ploughman's platter, smoked chicken with Caesar salad and quiche. For a sweet tooth, old-fashioned cakes and tray-bakes are on offer. A daily specials board then complements the regular menu.

Whilst a simple menu, it is homemade and really appetising, using as much locally sourced produce as possible. Indeed, their own reared lamb can be found on the menu from time to time.

The shop stocks produce normally found in a delicatessen and allows you to take home some of the produce and cook your own. For example, game and fish is available such as venison, trout and salmon. You can also take organic fruit and vegetables, through to unusual English fruit wines rhubarb wine is delicious so I'm told.

Prices seem reasonable and nothing exceeds £6. Soup is £2.95; jacket potatoes (with fillings such as mature cheese and Yorkshire chutney) are £4.95; a range of sandwiches on flavoured ciabatta and baguettes for £4.15; and scrambled egg and smoked salmon on toast for £3.95. Cakes range from 90p to £1.50. Our bill, including our cakes and tea, was £21.80.

You can see that Town End isn't the place to go if you are planning a special or traditional Sunday lunch. It is, however, a well-presented and friendly place to stop if you're looking for refreshments on a day out.

Reviewed by John Hall