Saturday, 22 October 2016

22/10/16 - Wye to Thames Walk 5 - Worcester to Pershore

Distance - 15 Miles
Geocaches - 10
Previous Walks - Walk 1Walk 2Walk 3Walk 4
Pub - The Pickled Plum, Pershore, Butty Bach

An unexpected free Saturday.  A chance to knock off Stage 5 of this epic journey that is taking me from the Wye in Hereford to the Thames in Oxford.

Today, we can throw the Severn into the River Mix.

Its a lengthy one - 15 Miles.  It would have been 14, if Pershore Station was actually in Pershore.  I could have taken a short cut to miss out the town, but there is a Good Beer Guide Pub to tick off.

Train timetables indicate that the drivers have a afternoon Siesta.  If I don't leave early, I will be waiting two hours for the 15:30 to return.

7:30am and I am alighting at Worcester Foregate Street, pounding the streets as the City prepares for a busy Saturday.

The first part of the walk is easy walking along the River - from the bridge to Kempsey.

Worcester Cathedral
Worcester Cathedral
Worcester Bridge
Worcester Bridge in the pre dawn light

The route provides the chance to add a few geocaches to the total, including one previous fail.  I'm sure it wasn't there last time.

Kempsey sees me leave the River.  Cruelly, I pass the yet to open for the day Walter de Catelupe.  I'll be back to get the GBG tick.

Future Visit Required
Doesn't look much but I hear it has Timothy Taylor Landlord
Cutting in land and heading east, I walk across a Kempsey Common.   There is little to report - the weather is gloomy, the paths have been diverted to cater for horse enclosures and the only elements of potential comedy moments include electrocution and getting told off when I follow an arrow into a field full of alpacas.

Mr Alpaca was far more angry than a man with poor signage had any right to be.

Kempsey Common
Gloomy View from Kempsey Common
Stoulton, leads to Drakes Broughton and eventually - bang on opening time - Pershore.

With weary legs, I enter the Pickled Plum in Pershore.  A tongue twister of a Good Beer Guide Entry.

Pickled Plum, Pershore
Pickled Plum
This pub used to be called the Plough.  It looked so down at heel that in all my previous walking visits, I was never inclined to visit.

It's received a makeover, mainly been aimed at diners, with 2/3's of the pub set for dining.

But drinkers are equally well looked after - six real ales on - with the clips for six real ciders (it's that part of the world) sharing the same beer pumps.

I can remember seeing Purity Ubu, Brakspear but no more perusal was required when my eyes locked on the Butty Bach.

My local is a Wye Valley tied house.  Whisper it quietly, but it may have been in even better condition here.

Pickled Plum, Pershore
Butty Bach in the Pershore's Pickled Plum

21/10/16 - The Bell, St Johns, Worcester

Distance Walked - Less than a Mile
Geocaches - 3

The St Johns area of Worcester is on the opposite side of the river to the town and a place where the tourists are unlikely to venture.

There are two 2017 Good Beer Guide Pubs within spitting distance of each other.   Finding myself in the county City with an hour to spare, I hunt for a collection of micro geocaches in the dark and manage to knock one of them off.

If it wasn't for the guide, I wouldn't be here.  This level of psycho geography is appealing to me in its complete randomness.

The Bell, St Johns, Worcester London Pride

Random BeerintheEvening Quote - "Why is it that a pub such as this can be well-patronised while others struggle?"

There's a question that I cannot fully answer after my visit.

A couple of clandestine photos taken when people weren't looking out through the curtain-less windows.

The Bell, St Johns, Worcester
The Bell - Brought to you by M&B
The front door is central in the building and brings you into a hallway.  There are two drinking rooms to the right and a large bar to the left.  It takes a moment to get orientated.

The first thing that hits you is the noise.  It may be 7pm on a Friday but I'm unsure whether this is the place or time to be Raggamuffin Rap at such a volume.

The old mod sat nursing his pint in the corner seems to agree with me.  The tattooed ladies seem to quite like it.

I manage to get my self heard to order a London Pride form the handful of real ales on offer.

I don't have the strength to discuss the short measure and make haste to one of the parlour rooms, where I hope it can be enjoyed in relative peace.

The Bell, St Johns, Worcester
If only I could have shut that door.
I like the snug.  I have time to consider the purpose of the Good Beer Guide.  Maybe its all about the beer and not the venue.

Although I can't find much to endorse the pub itself, the London Pride here was better than any that I have had over the last 5 weeks in the Smoke.

Absolutely superb.

Would I go back?

Did I tell you there's another GBG entry in St Johns?

Friday, 21 October 2016

20/10/16 - Mabel's Tavern

Walk Distance - Kings Cross to Euston
Geocaches - 0

Blimey, it has got to the point where I cannot even go for a pint without sparking a quick blog.

My time in London has come to a close.  Final customer presentation done.  A bit of time to kill before my train back to the Midlands.

Only thing to do is to get off the tube a stop early and go for a pint.  Little did I know at the time it would be a Good Pub Guide boozer and accurate records need to be maintained.

Mabels Tavern, Mabledon Palce, London - Spitfire Gold

Random BeerintheEvening Quote "You see quite a few in here with their half pints of spitfire or whatever, scanning the QR code for the Cask Marque Ale Trail trying to get round as many pubs as possible in the hope of winning prizes."
I've been rumbled!

I've walked past this typical London looking boozer a number of times but I am unsure if I have ever ventured in before.

Excuse Photos - Just a handled Samsung Phone with me today
Its a Shepherds Neame House.  I tried a Whitstable Bay on Monday night.  In a day of firsts, I try a Spitfire Gold.  It looks like lager.  It tastes inoffensive enough.

Spitfire Gold
You are Gold
The pub, according to both Google Maps and the Good Beer Guide, is supposedly haunted by the eponymous Mabel.  No ghosts in residence today, only skiving office workers extending their lunch break towards 15:00 hours.

Cask Marque Certificate found to the left of the bar.  Scan #62.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

17/10/16 - Fleet Street Pub Crawl

Distance - 3 Miles
Geocaches - 1
Walk Inspiration - CAMRA's London Pub Walks - Walk 1
Pubs - 5

Bob Steel's guide provides inspiration for a wet night in the Smoke.  22 of the 30 walks completed to date, so its nearly time to shell out for the updated issue.

Before I get going on the walk proper, I want to tick off the only nearby 2017 Good Beer Guide Entry.  So off the tube at Chancery Lane and a chance to admire Holborn Viaduct from below.

Hoop and Grapes, Farringdon Road, Whitstable Pale Ale

Random Beerintheevening quote - "A decent, unpretentious pub on the edge of the City."
The guide tells me that this pub dates from 1721 and has a fascinating history.  It then fails to embellish the story any further.  Experience, and on line research, suggest its either something to do with the heated patio or secret weddings.

Hoop and Grapes, Farringdon Road
Hoop and Grapes, Farringdon Road
Hoop and Grapes, Farringdon Road
All the gang (usually found in Lidl) are here.
It's a Shepherds Neame House, selling their full range of beers.  I am going to file my visit under perfunctory.  There is nothing to make this place stand out, or really require a return visit.

Not even the Patio.

The Punch Tavern, Fleet Street, Doom Bar

RandomBeerintheEvening Quote - "Closer inspection does reveal it's not much more than a passable Wetherspoon conversion of an old building"
I'm now on Bob's book proper.  Not going to the Blackfriar - a fine pub (unless you like beer), already blogged.

There's plenty of booze choice in Fleet Street and I must have walked past the Punch Tavern 100 times without walking in.  Strange, as its lit up like Santa's Grotto and looks rather appealing.

Punch Tavern
Birthplace of Punch Magazine

Punch Tavern
Come in out the rain, weary traveller
Beautiful marble bar containing all of one choice of real ale.  Doom Bar.  To be fair, it was very well kept and as good an example as you could hope to find.

Pint taken to the matching marble fireplace.  Menu perused but lacking in inspiration enough to make me want to stay.

Surprising really, as despite the pubby origins, this is really more geared up for dining.

The Old Bell, Fleet Street, Hogbacks TEA

Random BeerintheEvening Quote - "Non-smoking pub .. don't bother."
And this was a review from 2016.

A short commute here.  Its next door and far more pubby.  Four real ales on and I went for a TEA.  I like this beer but this was a pretty ropey example.  Wishy washy headless wonder.

Old Bell
The Pub Like Old Bell.  Not for Smokers
Old Bell

An even less inspiring menu and I'm out of here rather quickly.   Hunger is kicking in.

The Cheshire Cheese, Fleet Street, Nothing
Cheshire Cheese
The Evocative sign - harder to photograph than the moon

You really need to visit here if you fancy a Dickensian drinking experience.  Winter is the time to do it, where they burn coals with such intensity that you will wish you had left your clothes at home.

I've been many times and although I'm not a fan of their Sam Smiths beer, eating in the little dining room to the side of the bar is an experience that everyone should have.

I pop in on the off chance that there is a table free.  This doesn't usually happen but there is a large four person table with reserved plonked on it and a little free standing two man table bereft of brass signs of occupation.

I ask the waiter if the table is free.  He tells me they have stopped serving food.

It's 8:20pm.

I don't stop for a drink.  Further conversations with Mrs Mappiman lead me to question what the reservation on the other table was for, if they have stopped serving food.

This sort of thing can burn you up from the inside.

The Harp, Chandos Place, London Pride

Random BeerintheEvening Quote - "Fantastic ales and great atmosphere."
Fortunately, I know of a decent Thai over the road.

The Tipperary will be saved for another day and as the rain has stopped, I decide to walk back to my hotel, with the chance to tick off a couple more of the GBG 2017 entries.

Not that I need an excuse to revisit CAMRA national pub of the year 2010.  It's now no longer a freehouse and has been taken over by Fullers.  It's as good as it ever was,

And Monday night, 9pm is the time to go.  Not only did I get through the door, I got a seat.  This provided the opportunity to calculate the percentage of their previous guest ales I had tried.

The Harp, Chandos Place
Pop in, if you are ever at Charing Cross
The Harp, Chandos Place

The Argyll Arms, Oxford Circus, Tribute

Random BeerintheEveing Quote - "Fine and historic interior, tolerable selection of cask ales."
A chance to finish off the W1 pubs in the GBG Guide.  Rest were blogged a month ago.

I think I have under appreciated this pub.  With its proximity to Oxford Circus Tube station, it's always been a go to place to meet friends.  A handy location.  It's usually that heaving that you cannot appreciate the three glass partitioned rooms, deep red interior and grade II listed status.

Come in at 10pm on a Monday and the inner beauty will be revealed.

Argyll Arms, Oxford Street
Usually four deep outside
Argyll Arms, Oxford Street
The Bass Room, Adorned with Hops
Argyll Arms, Oxford Street
GBG said to admire the Bass Mirror.  So I did.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

08/10/16 - Keswick Pub Crawl

Distance - All the Pubs are together
Pubs - 6

Keswick is mental.  We know, we tried to park up after our ascent of Skiddaw and would have been better off leaving it at the mountain.  We arrive on a Saturday afternoon, with the market in full flow and no single tourist able to provide directions to the Royal Oak, our lodgings for the night.

Eventually the staff at Blacks Outdoor Shop provide assistance, by announcing a request for directions over the shop tannoy system.

The good news, once we are settled, is that all the pubs are in, or slightly off, the square.  There are two 2017 Good Beer Guide entries, but we're explorers.  We're not stopping at 2.

The Royal Oak, Thwaites Lancaster Bomber

On ordering my room, I was asked whether I wanted to pay an extra £10 for a large room.  Wanting to impress Mrs Mappiman, I threw caution (money) to the wind.

The sign outside shows that we in good company with previous literary writers have lodged.  Maybe the sign will get updated in future years with 21st Century bloggers.

Royal Oak
Mappiman blogged from here

Royal Oak
The Royal Oak
Its a fine place.  We should have eaten here.  The cooking smelled delicious and dining was fully booked, but I'm sure as a resident, we could have negotiated.

As with all the places in Keswick, beer was taken seriously.  A wide choice of hand pulls and I went for a Lancaster Bomber, waiting for the feeling to come back in my legs following 2846ft of ascent earlier in the day.

Pint taken, we head up to the room.  To check the dimensions, we look for a cat to swing.

Good experience as both a hotel and pub.  Recommended.

The Wainwright, Skiddaw from Hesket Newmarket Brewery

When in doubt, go for the pub named after the person who's tick list you are very slowly completing. When in doubt, go for the beer named after the Wainwright you have just climbed.

This is Keswicks newest pub - an entry in the 2017 GBG and offering a range of discounts to members of both the Wainwright and CAMRA societies.

New Pub Ahoy!
20% off if you are a member of both societies. 

Nice, bright pub with a separate dining area to the front and typical pub furniture in the bar.  But why sit there, where you can clog up the high bar stools and stop tourists from seeing what's on offer.

The Skiddaw was perfect quality but lacking any sort of kick.  I made a vow to not drink anything less than 4% again.

The Lake Road Inn, Hartley's Cumbria Way

With much work to do, we don't hang around for long.  Our table is booked in the Dog and Gun for 8pm and we have just enough time to check out the Lake Road Inn.

Lake Road Inn
Lake Road Inn
A fine establishment in its own right, although seemingly more geared up for diners than drinkers.

We clog up the high bar stools and make the most of the Hartley's.

The Dog and Gun, Nothing

I came here four years ago and it was mentally busy that night.  I saw the signs offering their famous 50 year old goulash (recipe, not meal).  I am a massive fan of Hungarian Food and didn't want to miss out again.

Dog and Gun
GBG Entry #2
A week before setting off, I phone.  No one answered.  I phone again.  I made a booking with a man called Chris who didn't sound entirely confident in his own abilities to take a booking.  I emailed for confirmation.  I checked my spam filter every day before leaving on the M6.

We walked in.  Four deep at the bar.  We see the sign - "please take a table, make you choice and order at the bar".

At least our table is waiting for us - reserved for Mappiman at 8pm.  A little flowerpot next to the chalkboard telling leg weary mountaineers to back off.

We sit and take all of a nanosecond to decide on goulash for and pie for the lady.

I go to the bar and nestle into someones armpit to wait my turn to order.  Plenty of time to decide which beer would go with a paprika stew.  15 minutes in (I stood by the till and used puppy dog eyes) I was served.

Me:   Can I order food?
Barman:  We have no goulash.
Me: No goulash!
Barman:  Or pie, or pie of the day, or steak or....  {use your imagination here}
Me:  What have you got?
Barman:  Scampi

Mrs Mappiman was reaching for Tripadvisor before I had got back to our table.  Genuine disbelief that a restaurant could run out of food at 8pm on a Saturday.

The Lake Road Inn, Steak and Ale Pie

Hurrah.  We swallowed our pride and headed back.  Table waiting, perfect service, good food.

Thank you Lake Road Inn.  We should never have left you.

The Bank Tavern, Keswick Taverner's Ale

Time to venture to the bottom of the market place.  I ignore Oddfellows (no reason) and the Kings Arms has an unhealthy 2/10 on Beerintheveening and we venture into the Bank Tavern.

Bank Tavern
Another one to try
A typical lakeland pub, noted only for the size of the barman's mustache.  He really should have been polishing whisky glasses and waiting for the cowboys to come.  Instead of men in chaps, its just men in goretex deciding how to replace fluids after a day on the hills.

Cask Marque accredited, I manage to both get on the wifi and scan the certficate.  Did I tell you my bottle opener had come?

The Pack Horse Inn, Robinsons Unicorn

Last of the evening and I want to make it a good one.  For that reason, we walked in and out again of the Golden Lion.  All the hand pull pumps had clips in reverse formation and I knew I would have been seduced by the darts on the large screen tv.

Google shows a not too obvious pub down an alley.   That alley is called Packhorse - and within its bowels lay pub of the night.
The Pack Horse Inn
Put out the Bunting - Its Keswick's Pub of the Night
Like most places, its heaving.

They also have live music on.  A very decent singer/guitarist who has the good humour to deal with heckles (god knows what they do to comedians in these parts).  The crowd were right, he could have been John Thompson off Cold Feet in Disguise.

He did a fine job of modern indie classics and just plain classics.  He was that good we stayed until a break in his set (we're not staying to 1am, soz) and after the dancing had started.

Fleeces were discarded with the gay abandon of soho strippers.

Walking boots stomped.

Pack Horse Entertainment
Lady Ramblers a-dancing

Sunday, 9 October 2016

08/10/16 - Skiddaw

Distance - 7 Miles
Geocaches - 3
Wainwrights - Carl Side, Skiddaw, Longside Edge, Ullock Pike
Walk Inspiration - Trail Magazine Sep 2004, Walk 3
Pubs - Worthy of a future blog

We just about manage to squeeze in our annual visit to the Lake District.  And god smiles on us with blue skies and October walking where no jacket is required.

5:30am alarm, refreshment at Tebay Services where two coffees and two bacon sandwiches require plastic (credit card, not fiver) and a further eye watering parking levy at the Old Sawmill Tea toom. 10:17am and we are boots on, ready to go.

This is a walk where you are either going uphill or downhill but always very steeply.  To get us in the mood, we head off into the woods, following forestry roads.  Mrs Mappiman shows how boxercise is paying off and I catch her looking at the phone to make sure she has a signal in case mountain rescue are required.

I'd like to say I am slow and steady.  Its more slow and stop.

Getting Left Behind
Getting Left Behind

The Climb
Early views of Bassenthwaite
2nd wind is found when we cross a stile and head out onto the mountainside of Carl Side.  Its steep but now feels like a proper mountain.  Geocache found, jacket off and frequent photos of the most jaw dropping views.  I only wish the photos could do them justice.

This makes it worth it.
The Big Reveal
We are joined by Ruby the springer and her lady owner as we attempt to interpret the way up onto Skiddaw.  The paths don't really match the OS Map.  The shale must be constantly moving.  But we follow the most likely line of ascent, grateful that it is dry.

The reward - a couple of shelters, a trig point and a guide to the fells.  Finest lunch spot this year.

Top of Skiddaw
Skiddaw's Lunar Landscape
We also have views of our descent.  And its handsome.  Longside and Ullock Pike provide a fine and very easy ridge path down.  And of course, we have done the climbing, so despite our protesting thighs, this is a real pleasure.

We can also gently snigger at those climbing up.

Ullock Pike
Longside and Ullock Pike - Superb walking

Ullock Pike and Longside
And here's me walking it
We can also have a sneaky peak back at Skiddaw and marvel at the faint path that provided access.  A feeling of triumph that we conquered it.  It hardly looked possible from this view.

Thats the path
The faint path runs behind Sonia and then diagonally up Skiddaw
Ling How marks the end of the Ridge and reveals Bassenthwaite in all its glory.

Final Views
It's now a case of the final descent and walking back on a path that runs parallel with the road. Unfortunately, we failed to spot any red squirrels.

Water supplies had dwindled to nothing so we celebrate in style back at the tea rooms with a can of tango and a 7 up.  £3.60 to you, Mr Tourist.

Downed in one, we jump back into the car for what proves to be by far the biggest challenge of the day.  One that requires fortitude, patience, strength and cunning.

Finding a parking space in Keswick on a Saturday.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

03/10/16 - The Good Beer Guide Pubs of Spitalfields

Walk Distance - 1 Mile
Geocaches - 0
Pubs - 3

Back in the smoke, with Mrs Mappiman keeping me company.  She's not been to Brick Lane and needs the experience of being cajoled into any one of the "best curry houses in the east end".

Pre meal drinks are in order and I consult the guide to see where to go.  Will it be the Golden Heart - last visit provided an encounter with Tracy Emin but more importantly Timothy Taylor?  Will it be the Ten Bells - last drinking place of one of Jack the Rippers victims and toilets that haven't changed since she used them?

There's only one way to find out - flip to page 287 and see where fate will take us.

The Kings Stores, Widegate Street, Hackney Brewery Golden Ale

Random BeerintheEvening Quote "Another pub of the bare floorboard and brickwork variety"
Located in one of the mazey narrow side streets between Liverpool Street Station and Curry Mile is this impressive building.

Kings Stores
A Former Armoury - Located near Artillery Lane
Its one of those low lit, appeal to the "after work crowd" pubs.  Nothing wrong with it and for a Greene King boozer, it had a decent selection.  Not recognising any, I went local and golden for a decent pint from Hackney Brewery.

All perfectly acceptable.  Would I come again?  Maybe not.  Little to really set it apart from 1000 other pubs.

Kings Stores
Low Lighting for the After Work Crowd
The Pride of Spitalfields, 3 Heneage Street, EBS

Random BeerintheEveing Quote - "A proper East End boozer that miraculously survives amid the gentrification of Brick Lane"
This is a gem of a pub.  I came here around 10 years ago following Bob Steel's Camra book of pub walks with a mate.  This was only pub he liked on a four pub crawl.

Architecturally, it appears to have been airlifted in from another location.  A building that looks like a pub in a completely non descript street.

Very busy - we peeped in through the net curtains, catching sight of the air guitar players enjoying Bryan Adams and knowing that we would have to join the throng of kerb side sitters outside.  ESB Served by a lady with a voice that sounded like Danny Dyers mom.

Pride of Spitalfields
Damn Right they're in it.  Other outdoor photos unavailable due to people
Deservedly popular due to authenticity.  If only we hadn't been continually harassed for spare change and/or cigarettes.

Williams Ale and Cider House, 22 Artillery Lane, Trumans Rio

Random BeerintheEvening Quote - "Excellent pub that is now firmly on my "radar".

Brick lane discovered, it was time for one last pint before hitting the tube.

Williams Ale and Cider House

9:30 on a Monday night and the after work crowd have decided to go home.  We have the place to ourselves, meaning that a) I can look for the cask marque certificate in peace and b) take my time checking the blackboard before making an order.

Williams Ale and Cider House
Cask and Keg, delineated
Trumans Rio was chosen - a brewery I genuinely thought had gone the way of the dodo.  I find another of their pints later in the week.

Similar to the Kings Stores but more choice of ales and more nick nacks to look at.

Worth seeking out if you ever find yourself in the area.