A SPEAKER at Ilminster Literary Festival is promising guests a laugh a minute today (Wednesday, May25).

Neil Hanson will regale his audience with tales from his time running the highest inn in Britain in the 1970s and 80s.

The Tan Hill Inn, on top of the Pennines above the Yorkshire Dales, is so remote it has no mains services and is four miles from its next-door neighbour.

Yet, despite its isolation, it is one of the most famous in Britain, attracting thousands of visitors ever year, and the location for TV ads by Everest, Vodafone and Waitrose.

Since his time there, Neil has had 70 published books, both his own much-acclaimed work and as a ghost writer for sports stars, showbiz legends, SAS men, fast-jet pilots, a treasure diver, an explorer, a kidnap negotiator, a leading surgeon and a spy. His latest tome, The Inn at the Top, is an at time hilarious tale of his time at the Tan Hill.

He is also an award-winning speaker, entertaining audiences in the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

His talk at the Ilminster Festival - Inn and Out at the Top - explores the quirks and foibles, highs and lows of running the inn while grappling with tight-fisted farmers, eccentric characters, bizarre local customs, naturist weekends, lates and lock-ins, police raids, rats in the attic, encounters with magistrates and planners, and the filming of a famous double-glazing advert.

Asked about running the inn, Neil said: "There are some great things about it.

"You get your social life delivered to your door every day, meet some amazing characters and see human nature in all its facets - the good bits and the bad bits.

"But, as any landlord will tell you, it is definitely not a retirement job.

"You’re on your feet all the time and you’re still working when everyone else is relaxing and having fun, especially in a place like Tan Hill where, shall we say, we took a rather relaxed view about licensing hours back then.

"I don’t regret my time there for an instant but I’m very happy to do my socialising on the other side of the bar these days."

Neil's talk is at The Minster Rooms, Court Barton, Ilminster, at 10.30am today.

Ilminster Literary Festival runs until Saturday (May 28).