Sunday, 4 December 2016

04/12/16 - The Coalbrookdale Inn

Distance - 5 Miles
Geocaches - 11
Walk Inspiration - Walk 8 Country Walking Magazine April 2015

Plenty of interest on this walk from Coalbrookdale, near Ironbridge.  We have some fine scenery, tonnes of Geocaches, many museums and a Good Beer Guide pub to tick off.

We start at Dale End Car Park and head straight out into the countryside, climbing through fields and woodland, with the cooling towers of the old power station constantly in view.

Coalbrookdale Coppice
Ironbridge Power Station
Ironbridge Power Station
Stunning views if you look away from the Power Station

If anything, there are too many caches.  Mrs Mappiman is worried about exactly when her lunch will provided.  She's also a little disturbed about some of the camouflage.  Twice she exclaims "is that someone's manky sock" and then refuses to hold the cache whilst I sign the log.

We arrive at the Museum of Iron, ignoring the chance to visit a Quaker burial ground.  Under the viaduct and delight is found in the shape of the Coalbrookdale Inn.

Coalbrookdale Viaduct
Coalbrookdale Viaduct
Coalbrookdale Inn
The Good Beer Guide Recommended Coalbrookdale Inn

The guide has now paid for itself.  This is a little cracker of a pub that I wouldn't have found without the recommendation.  Much needed warmth after a chilly December walk from the coal fire (they have a lot of it around here) and two rolls with chips and two drinks for 40p over a tenner.

Just enough time pre-meal to explore the Victorian glassworks in the three rooms and say hello to the group of old boys who have gone out to "walk their dogs".

Hobsons Town Crier
Pre Chips.  Dog Walkers at the rear
Only trouble with stopping half way through is that its a wrench to get going again.  In hindsight and with better planning, we could have started at the Museum, saving this highlight till the end.

In a bid to keep harmony, I do adapt the walk slightly - knocking a mile off by following the Ironbridge Way marker signs back to its obvious destination.  This turned out to be an inspired choice, as the walking took us through some of the older housing clinging to the hillside and down a very steep flight of steps running underneath a church.

Coming Back into Ironbridge
Through the Houses
Walking under the Church
Under the Church
To the obvious destination

Saturday, 3 December 2016

03/12/16 - Wye to Thames - Walk 6 - Pershore to Evesham

Distance - 8 Miles
Geocaches - 11
Previous Walks - Walk 1, Walk 2, Walk 3, Walk 4, Walk 5
Pub - The Red Lion, Evesham, Hung, Drawn and Portered

Never has a walk started so poorly and ended so spectacularly.

My guide book - from the Wye to the Thames - was written well before Pershore Trading estate was built.  Trying to find where the footpaths have disappeared to as you walk past a series of light industrial units is no way to start a day.  Even if I do walk past the Pershore Brewery.

Correct paths are found when I enter Wyre Piddle.  A place much sniggered at but previously unvisited.

Wyre Piddle
All depends on where you place the inflection
Nice place Wyre Piddle.  As well as the above wine bar, there was a nice looking pub - the Anchor.  I may need to come back to investigate.

Plenty of interest on this walk, as I make my way through several Worcestershire villages.  Wyre Piddle, gives way to Lower Moor, which in turn leads to Fladbury.  A chance to rectify some previous DNF caches, including an absolute swine at a railway crossing.  At least I had superb views of my favourite hill, Bredon, as I stumbled around before I cried "Eureka!"

Cache Ground Zero
I'll never forget this vista
Enjoy my walk through Fladbury, following the meadows next to the River Avon down to Jubilee and then a climb into Cropthorne, with its beautiful church.

View of Jubilee Bridge
View North from Jubilee Bridge
Cropthorne Church
Cropthorne Church

A couple of pleasant miles over farmland and through orchards.  I've not walked these paths before, as there are a number of caches to find.  Then. at the top of Clark's Hill, Evesham reveals itself in all its glory.

Dropping into Evesham
Evesham - with its 1 Good Beer Guide Pub Below
The guide books suggested that I could take the Ferry across the Avon.  I never thought for a minute that it would be still running in a) December and b) 2016.

I was delighted to see it moored on the opposite side and a sign suggesting it was running all day.

Hampton - Evesham Ferry
The Hampton Ferry
To summon the Ferry, you just have to loiter for a bit and wait for a man to appear on the opposite bank and shout if you want to come across.

Oh yes, I do.  What a way to end a walk.

Evesham has one Good Beer Guide entry - the Red Lion.  There's not too much information about it on the web and unusually, it cannot be seen from Google Maps.  No fear, my Ferryman asks if I need directions in Evesham and I ask him on its whereabouts.  He is delighted to tell me the way and state that he is in there most evenings, drunk.

Lets hope he hasn't got to operate any heavy machinery, where the public could be endangered, in the morning :-)

A great experience and he is well worth his 100% tip.  (Ferry Cost one way, 50p)

I am delivered a touch early for the pub - so a chance to get a couple of caches and admire the old part of the town.

Evesham Church
Evesham Church
Evesham Memorial
War Memorial
Market Place
Near the Red Lion

And how about this for Pub Good News?  The Red Lion has been closed for 100 years.  After opening as a pub in 1728, it closed in 1910 before being reclaimed and re-opened in 2014.

A central bar with two serving hatches at either end.  The front of the bar is packed but I do manage to squeeze in and get a simply stunning pint of North Cotswold Brewery Hung Drawn and Quartered.

I ask if they do food and told they don't but I am welcome to bring my own.  So out I go to get a festive pastie (Turkey and Cranberry to the horror of traditionalists), come back in and have to fight my way past a troupe of Morris Men to get into the back room.

Where the Landlady attempts to put the Christmas decorations up around me.

If I'd have stayed for another, I would be part of the display.

Red Lion, Evesham
Could have done with more authentic chairs
Red Lion, Evesham
Pint of the Year?  Very Possibly.  

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

29/11/16 - The Station Inn, Kidderminster

Who would have thought that Kidderminster, a town that's not had the best of fortunes, has five Camra Good Beer Guide entries in 2017?

Who would have thought that the King and Castle wouldn't be one of them?

Due to a very delayed train, I found myself in K&C.  Characterful pub, linking in with the Severn Valley Railway themed nostalgia.  Roaring fire.  8 real ales on hand pull.  I know some would say this is 6 too many - and I know some, myself included, who would never stray from the Bathams but honestly, its like a real ale theme park where you could spend a day.

And sadly omitted.  Makes me wonder what other gems I could be missing out on in towns I don't know.

Not to worry, the Station Inn is just around the corner.

The Station Inn, Fairfield, Wye Valley Butty Bach

Random BeerintheEvening Quote - "Wow..... The back street boozer is alive and well"
And that was my review - from 2013.

Station Inn, Kidderminster
Heart of the Community

This was winner of CAMRA Community Pub of the Year 2015.  By Community Pub, I think they mean it has people in it.  Once again, earlyish doors on a Tuesday night and the place is packed.  No room to sit in the front bar - where in a trip down memory lane, green baize crib boards are being used for their true intention.  So around to the back room, where we have the place to ourselves.

So what to have?

Station Inn, Kidderminster
Always going to be Wye Valley
The Butty Bach was in excellent condition.

Station Inn, Kidderminster
Wye Valley at its finest
Last time we came in, we left with half a dozen eggs.  Today, we were hoping for a evening meal. However, despite a full and extensive menu pinned to the outside pub sign, food is only served until 6pm.  Mrs Mappiman was most disgruntled, moaning about what sort of people come out for their tea at 4pm on a weekday.

She settled down after half of her Thatchers and the promise of a Captain Cods.

I expect to knock off the four remaining entries within a couple of weeks after my annual walk along the canal to Kiddy Xmas themed walk.

I'll report back on whether the King and Castle really still is the King of Kidderminster.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

26/11/16 - The Red Lion, Cropredy - Millennium Way Stage 42

Distance - 8 Miles
Geocaches - 3
Walk Inspiration

The countdown to the end of the Millennium Way begins in earnest.  Just three stages left.

A return to Cropredy - a small, two pub town on the Oxfordshire / Northamptonshire border.  I've walked here once before, breaking up a journey back on the M40.

Straight down onto the canal, where a full on regatta is taking place.  A few paces before heading East alongside the River Cherwell, passing Prescote Manor.

Oxford Canal
Canal Action
Prescote Manor
Prescote Manor

The walk takes me across fields and along lanes, passing through Wardington and Edgcote, finding the only caches of the day, before deliverance in Chipping Warden.

Nice looking place, Chipping Warden - proud of its history.  There are information boards to the civil war battle sites and a town standard featuring a medieval yokel bothering the farm stock as a WWII Lancaster Bomber flies overhead.   Two pubs, but the Rose and Crown looks long dead.

Chipping Warden
Chipping Warden Church
Chipping Warden
Yokel. Pigs.  Bomber.

The Millennium Way shares paths with the McMillan Way over farmland.  Route finding is easy, in a first - someone has spray painted the footpaths.  These lead back to the Oxford Canal at Claydon Locks.

Way Marking
Easy Path Marking

Oxford Canal
Picking up the Oxford Canal
No one else using the towpath today - I have two quiet miles passing moored barges, a couple of boatyards and a marina.

Just the post walk refreshments to knock off.  Cropredy has two pubs - The Brasenose Arms is shunned for the Red Lion.  It must have been the advertising.

Red Lion, Cropredy
Good Advertising
Cask Marque Lapsed
But Someone's not been paying their dues

The pub is picture post card perfect.  Thatched roof building in a terrace of similar buildings along a hidden, very narrow lane and directly opposite the Church.

Red Lion, Cropredy
The Red Lion
I deboot, enter and get looked up and down by the two old boys at the bar who are getting tips on the use of Tinder from the young bar man.  The Scot sees potential but the cockney is horrified at the type of woman who would advertise.  I am forced to invade their space to eye up the wares.

A top quality Purity Ubu was chosen in preference to the ubiquitous Doom Bar.

Red Lion, Cropredy
Purity - Not Hook Norton

Saturday, 26 November 2016

25/11/16 - The Bush Inn, Worcester

Down a country lane signposted Uphampton, overlooked by nothing but the Worcestershire countryside, is the Canon Royall Brewery.

On a ring road, next to a pizza takeaway, overlooked by blocks of flats is their one tied pub, the Bush Inn.
The Bush Inn, Worcester
The Bush Inn
I must have driven past it 1000 times without even noticing.

This all changes as I get another tick in the Good Beer Guide 2017.

It doesn't look too much but nice etched windows hints at the Victorian Age.   Internet research is even less promising.  A landlord ousted for a seven man brawl and losing his licence.

Still, with just two ticks required to finish our county capital, I need to be brave.

Through the door into a single roomed pub.  Choosing a Canon Royall Teddy Bear may not show the correct level of manliness, so I look at the options, ignore the cider and go for a North Cotswolds Shagweaver, breaking with tradition and ordering it by it's full name.

The Bush Inn, Worcester

One free seat, which I take.  A band setup - guitarist and a lady singer.  Unfortunately, I cannot stay for long but their rehearsal does prompt me to listen to Melody Gardot on the way home.

She had that kind of voice and it's a shame I couldn't have stayed to hear the set.

The Bush Inn, Worcester
Close to the Action

Sunday, 20 November 2016

20/11/16 - Old Green Tree, Bath

There are 13 Bath entries in the 2017 Good Beer Guide.  Its rather a good job that our son is at University for 5 years.

Slowly, slowly, we will tick them off.

On a flying visit to the Spa Town on the way back from Cornwall, we drop in to buy him lunch at a fine Italian.  Not content to just go shopping or admire buskers who's talents range from playing the guitar behind their necks to enticing pigeons to scare young children, we head off to a pub that I have previously visited.  Camra pub of the year 2016 - Borders Region, is a sensible place to start ticking them off again.

Old Green Tree, Green Street

Random BeerintheEvening Quote - "Met a very interesting chap sat at the bar that 2 of us instantly decided he could be a mass murderer"

Old Green Tree, Bath
Pretty Green Street
Old Green Tree, Bath
The Unspoiled Old Green Tree

On our visit, there were no mass murderers.  With the exception of the lady behind the bar, there were no people.  I commented on its quietness, to be met with "It was packed until you came in".

They must have been expecting me.

This provides us with a chance to admire the simple elegance of this unchanged pub.  This must be the only place where a spring clean involves solely the use of polish (not people of Poland).  Every surface is covered in wood.

A handful of real ales on - I shun the Butcombe in the name of adventure and chose a first Loxley Ale.  It was in as fine a condition as my smartphone camera suggests.

Loxley Ale
A first Loxely ale
Not long before the pub starts to fill back up again with weary shoppers seeking a real 1950s pub experience.

1 down 12 to go.

20/11/16 - The Tintagel Coast

Distance - 3.5 Miles
Geocaches - 5
Walk Inspiration

We couldn't leave the South West Coast Path without a final goodbye.

So its up at first light, after the worst of Storm Angus has disappeared and down to Tintagel Youth Hostel.  A fine potential place to stop for when I attempt the Coast Path in one go.

To the YHA
Path to the Coast
Another stretch of exciting coast line, although mercifully without yesterday's ups and downs at Boscastle.  A number of geocaches to keep us entertained between the dog walking muggles.

Church at Sunrise
Tintagel Church at Dawn
The highlight of the walk is Tintagel Castle - where King Arthur may have been conceived/lived/died - delete as applicable dependent on how much you buy into the legend.  We have fond memories of bringing our youngest here when all he demanded was a sword and a shield.

We now have to stop off on the way home at his University Town, Bath, to take him to the finest Italian available in Avon.

Tintagel Castle
King Arthur's Castle
We circuit Barras Nose, grab the last cache and head into town to say goodbye to the pubs we investigated on Friday night.  A distinct lack of Good Beer Guide pubs on this stretch of coastline but if you find yourself here, the King Arthur's Arms (corny, I know) is the best by a mile.  The food is good and the pool is 50p a frame.

Last Geocache of the Weekend
Farewell Cache