When they bought it there were holes in the roof and every time it rained water cascaded down the walls.
The carpet was so thick with dregs it had to be taken up with a spade and the pub was facing a bankruptcy sale.
“People used to come to buy tickets for the waterfall and then find themselves under one in the bar,” said D Mark Thompson, who after more than a decade’s hard work restoring the 13th century Green Dragon Inn at Hardraw near Hawes, is calling time.
The pub, together with England’s highest single drop waterfall, Hardraw Force, a visitor centre, campsite and 5.5 hectares of parkland - home to the Hardraw Brass band Festival and Hardraw Gathering - have gone on the market for £1.5m.
The pub, which he bought for £375,000 in 2001, went on sale on its own in 2014, but Mr Thompson says “reluctantly” he has realised it made sense to put the whole site up.
One motivation has been he and his partner Yvonne Lovatt’s ill health.
Mr Thompson had a heart attack last May - but still insisted on driving to the doctors - while Ms Lovatt lives with leukaemia.
“You need youth in a place this big,” says Mr Thompson, who is 60 in March and has run four different Dales pubs since 1979. “I thought 10 years ago I would be carried out of here in a box, but you have to bow to the inevitable and take a pragmatic view.”
The business takes around £500,000 a year, but there could be scope for more: “I think with the right operators you could nearly double that. It wants to be somebody imaginative - you are buying into a dream.
“There’s a nice cottage and a 15 acre back garden with the highest waterfall in England.
“It is a completely different way of life. I do all the books - Yvonne - I take my hat off to her - does the overseeing of the pub. It is really her baby.
“I’d like someone who doesn’t fit in with the flow - an eccentric - who can carry on the weave of the loom with their own creativity. There’s history, music, literature - Nature at the back - it’s a place for all seasons and all walks of life.”
The buyer will have colourful footsteps to follow: “Three years ago we held an Irish weekend. Naturally I ended up dancing on the tables in the bar parlour.
“Somehow someone photographed it but I thought no more until I received a copy of the Irish Post and yes, there I was in full flow, a tabloid table dancer:‘A romping session on Saturday night and the infectiously live sound saw D Mark Thompson, host at the Green Dragon, dancing Sean-nos on top of the table.’ The weekend is now a yearly event.”
Mr Thompson nurtured the Brass Band Festival and says he will ensure via a contract that it can take place the second Sunday of September “in perpetuity.”
But he insists there is no desperate rush, and there’s a plan B, involving a downstairs double bedroom.
“When I was a young guy there was Bessie Fletcher at the Blue Lion, East Witton and Mrs Bush at the Abbey Inn, Byland. Mrs Bush wouldn’t open till 9.30pm and then all she would have in were a couple of farmers and the local policeman.
“Bessie didn’t even have a sign up. The point is they reduced it down to the level of trade they wanted and felt comfortable with.
“We will just cut our clothes accordingly.”
JMW Turner stayed at the inn in July 1816, while painting the gorge into which Hardraw Force plunges from almost 100 feet high.
The waterfall was already a well-known attraction in Turner’s time, with contemporaries such as Wordsworth also visiting. Visitors have to go through the pub and pay to see the waterfall, which was used as a location for the 1991 movie, Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves, which starred Kevin Costner. Hardraw Force featured in a scene when Maid Marian catches Robin Hood bathing naked under a waterfall .
The inn is on the market with Skipton chartered surveyors Westlake & Co. It is available as a whole or three lots.