Thursday, 18 May 2017

18/05/17 - CAMRA Edinburgh Pub Walks - Walk 6 - Rose Street and New Town

Distance - Less than a Mile
Pubs - 3

Bob Steel has been my guide for many pub related adventures in London.  He knows more than one City.

The Guide
More Adventures Within
It's only a question of which walk to complete.  I am limited both on time and a lack of understanding of Edinburgh Bus Routes, so a three pub jaunt in Rose Street seems just the ticket.

I've read a lot of Irvine Welsh and he described Rose Street as being for "Tourists and Walkers", so it's just perfect for my needs.  I may have mis-remembered a single letter in that summary.

The Oxford Bar, 8 Young Street, Cairngorm Trade Winds

Yep, I've read all the Ian Rankin Books and Yep, I have previously seeked out this key location for Rebus to ponder his evidence when solving crimes.

I'm not going to sugar coat it.  It's a tough experience to walk in as a stranger, although for a minute, I do wonder if its been gentrified.

The Gentrification of the Oxford Bar
Maybe selling more than Corn Beef and Beetroot Sarnies?
The makeover only extends as far as the outside.

The Gentrification of the Oxford Bar
External Makeover
Misconceptions of gentrification are dismissed on entry.  To the left, is the narrow bar, presided over by a picture of Ken Stott and Ian Rankin.   There's no music to mask your approach and you are forced to budge through the locals gathered, eyeing up anyone they don't know.

There is a hush as you order your drink.  It's prison yard rules and survival is dependent of someone being weaker than you - so I let the American in front of me try and order a Malt.  The landlady (slighter than the landlord I remember, but still as fearsome) refuses to serve him until he pronounces Glenmorangie correctly.

It takes three goes in an atmosphere you could cut a knife with.... with me thinking "get it right, Brad or for god's sake have a Highland Park" as he goes through the pantomime.

My order for a Cairngorms Trade Winds is easier and appears to be met with approval.  Bar conversation resumes and I take my drink to the sparsely furnished side room, set aside specifically for tourists and Rebus fans.

Uncompromising, rough around the (interior) edges and I wouldn't change a thing about it.

The Kenilworth, Rose Street, Timothy Taylor Mild

Rose Street is packed with pubs / bars / restaurants and middle aged men being sick, whilst comforted by their drinking partners.

I'm sure I've been to the Kenilworth before, but you need a Guide to point out its beauty.  For it is beautiful, inside and out.

The Kenilworth
Timothy Taylor Mild
Captures the Ceiling, The Island Bar and the Beer

I have the place more or less to myself and get to photo all the things pointed out in the book.  Beer wise, I usually go LocALE but this was a chance to sample the lesser spotted Timothy Taylor Mild.

They kindly put it in a Deuchars glass so I wouldn't stand out.

The Abottsford, Rose Street, Strathaven Ales Old Mortality

A similar experience to the Kenilworth.   Without someone to point out the features, it would be just another pub in a long street of pubs.  A nondescript sandstone exterior does however lead to a pub that it is on CAMRA National Inventory of Pub Interiors.

Abbotsford - Outside
Abbotsford - Inside

Another fine example of a beautifully ceiling-ed, Island bar boozer and a guide who has shown me the best of the area.

Monday, 15 May 2017

15/07/17 - The Inn Way to Lake District Summary

Distance of the Inn Way to the Lake District - 90 (82.5 Completed) Miles
Days completed in - 7
Pubs Visited - 35 (44 Available if you get the opening hours right)
Geocaches - 19
Timeframe - 09/05/17 to 15/05/17

The Inn Way to the Lake District is an out of print guide book to a walking route that takes in the best that the area can offer.

Fine walking routes stops at various sized villages for lunch and evening meals/accommodation.  The only criteria for the stops are there has to be at least one pub.

And the pubs, hotels, food and beer were universally excellent.

As with all undertakings - there needs to be a roll of honour.

Best Walk - Coledale and Crummock Water on Day 3
Best Pub - Kirkstile Inn also on Day 3
Best Pint - Coniston Bluebird on Day 6
Most Interesting Character - Landlord at the Sun Inn, Coniston on Day 6
Bucket List Items - Black Sail YHA and Wasdale Head Inn on Day 4

The walk provided a perfect opportunity to get away from it all and immerse myself in a week where the only thing to worry about was what time was lunch (usually liquid) and what sort of pie to order for tea.

Each leg of the walk has been detailed on a separate blog, available at the link;

Day 1 - Ambleside to Rosthwaite
Day 2 - Rosthwaite to Braithwaite
Day 3 - Braithwaite to Buttermere
Day 4 - Buttermere to Boot
Day 5 - Boot to Broughton In Furness
Day 6 - Broughton In Furness to Coniston
Day 7 - Coniston to the Old Dungeon Ghyll

The Photo Album on Flickr


15/05/17 - Ambleside Pub Crawl

Pubs - 6 (35 in Total on the Inn Way to Lake District)
Walking Day Blog

The Inn Way to the Lake District came to a rain enforced end at the Old Dungeon Ghyll.  I'm not too proud to say we abandoned miserable walking for a bus ride back to the luxury of the Salutation Spa.

After an afternoon relaxing in various water based treatments, we picked the book back up to knock off the pubs in town.

Pub 30 - The Goldend Rule, Ambleside, Hartley Cumbrain XB

Old school Robinsons pub hidden in a back alley away from the tourist masses.  If I'm telling the truth, the beer is better in the next Robinsons Pub - The Unicorn.

Golden Rule, Ambleside
Side On - The Golden Rule
Golden Rule, Ambleside
Old School Decor

Pub 31 - The Unicorn, Ambleside, Hartleys Cumbrian Way

This would be my recommendation for food if you are looking for traditional, post walk grub.  Proper ramblers dishes and huge portions.   We were going to eat somewhere else for a change until seduced by a giant Yorkshire Pudding filled with beef stew.

We are but mortal hill walkers with little self control.

Unicorn, Ambleside
Pub Grub Ahoy
Pub 32 - Churchill Inn, Ambelside, Wainwright

By the time you arrive here, there will be a new beer shop open around the corner.  There is also a wine bar over the road, Lily's, that was recommended to me on Day 3.  However, if you are following the book, this is next on the list.

Its had a make over but think Wetherspoons, without the cheap drinks.  One for completists.

Churchill, Ambleside
Pub 33 - The Royal Oak, Ambleside, Golden Sheep

Royal Oak, Ambleside
Royal Oak on a Rainy Monday

Apologies for the picture - it was raining and I was in a rush.   If you want to see a better image, have a look at Half Man, Half Biscuits album "Ambleside CSI".

Everything as I remember it.  A smell of damp and sticky tables.   A second one for the completists.

Pub 34 - The White Lion, Ambleside, Wainwright

For those that like meal deals, although to be fair, the real ales are on offer mid week at a bargain £2.Something.

Not really our cup of tea.  We came for the tick.

White Lion, Ambleside
White Lion
Pub 35 - The Queens Hotel, Ambelside, Coniston Bluebird Bitter

This is it - the 35th and final pub on the Inn Way to the Lake District.  Somehow, we missed nine.  I know three were missed out on by cutting the final days walking at the ODG and we didn't have a drink at the Salutation (our hotel).   Once again, I forgot the Sportsman in Ambleside and it was too early on Day 1 for Badgers Bar, Rydall....  still leaves me 3 to check up on.

I love the Queens, although I am sad to report that the downstairs bar was closed down.  I hope it will re-open - had some interesting nights in there over the years.

In a fitting tribute, the choice of the last drink came down to a battle between the pints of the week...

Loweswater Gold - Makes perfect sense on a warm sunny afternoon, nestling in a beer garden in the shadows of the fells.

Coniston Bluebird made sense on a rainy Monday night in Ambleside's only Good Beer Guide Entry.

As a footnote, there was no sign of any of Ambleside Barngates Brewery excellent products anywhere in Ambleside.  One to watch out for.

Queens Hotel, Ambleside
The Queens - 35th and Last of the Inn Way.

15/05/17 - Inn Way to Lake District - Day 7 - Coniston to Old Dungeon Ghyll

Start - Coniston
End - Old Dungeon Ghyll
Distance -  7.5 Miles
Key Features - Furness Fells, Tilberthwaite
Geocaches - 1
Pubs -  (7 - 35 In Total)
Previous Legs - Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5, Day 6

The final day of the Inn Way to the Lake District was always going to be the tough one.  For a start, its meant to be 15 miles.   Lakeland miles count double.   It also has a very high number of pubs to visit - four before you get to the eight in Ambleside.

We already had a choice about whether to complete the High Level route or the "Low Level" alternative.

Ultimately, the weather dictated the day.  On Day 3, I wrote about the drought.  The drought is over.

We looked out the porch of the Black Bull in Coniston, saw the rain bouncing off the tarmac and vowed to take the Low Level and make a decision on how we felt when we got to the Old Dungeon Ghyll, 1st pub of the day.

Rainy Coniston
The term "Low Level" is all relative.  We have the same early climb up the Coniston Fells but veer right at Milners Bridge, avoiding Swirl Hause and taking in the wonderful steep valley of Tilberthwaite.  In total, we still manage 1840ft of ascent - very nearly a whole mountain.

Tilberthwaite would have been even more spectacular if we could see it through the mist.

A rare glimpse
I'm not going to try and pretent it was fun.   The paths are turning to streams, there is little to see and our soggy pants confirm what we already know.  Goretex just does not work.

A Rambler with the 1000 Yard Stare
No point getting the camera out too often as we fight our way down to the road and up and over Knotts to Blea Tarn and ulitmately the Langdale Pikes.  Delighted to say, it looked exactly as we remember it from March.

Langdale Pikes
Langdale Pikes
Pub 29, The Old Dungeon Ghyll, Langdale, Yates Bitter

Gav heads to the pub first and I am in charge of a) finding out what time the bus leaves for Ambleside and B) get the Geocache.  I succeed in both and we have nearly two hours until 2:05pm to determine what to do next.

I'll never write Mystery Novels.  Of course it was this.
The ODG is perfect for our needs in every way.   The vinyl floor slopes away from the bar, so the run off water from our sodden clothes flushes away, causing only a minor trip hazard.  The log burner is on.  The beers are excellent.  The Staff (and other punters) are once again in great spirits.

We could not have stood around in our sodden stuff, so we were forced to change into what we had dry in the Gents and confirm our abandonment with the locals.

Those that were there to see the conditions, agreed with our choice.  Those that saw my Twitter check ins called us quitters and wanted their sponsorship money back.

Can't begin to explain how nice this was.
So, not quite the finale I was expecting but the ODG is a fine place to end any adventure.

The bus was bang on time and not without its own excitement. Splashing through the huge puddles was more akin to the Log Flume at Alton Towers than any regular bus journey.

Inglorious End
Inglorious End to the Inn Way Challenge 2017
We've done the other pubs (New Dungeon Ghyll and Sticklebarn) in Langdale before, so not too worried about missing out on these but it was a shame that we missed out on the Britannia in Elterwater - a pub I had heard really good things about.

However, once we were ensconced in the new outdoor Hot Tub on the Salutation in Ambleside, rain beating down on us but gently warmed and massaged, we knew we had made the right decision.

Ambleside Pubs in a separate blog - as well as an Inn Way to the Lake District Summary.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

14/05/17 - Inn Way to Lake District - Day 6 - Broughton in Furness to Coniston

Start - Broughton In Furness
End - Coniston
Distance -  13.5 Miles
Key Features - Beacon Tarn, Walna Scar Road
Geocaches - 3
Pubs - 7 (28 In Total)
Previous Legs - Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4, Day 5

Whatever climbs are going to be made today, we are going to have earned it.  Broughton In Furness stands a whopping 10m above sea level.  With the exception of the grand finale at Ambleside, we also have the biggest pub day, ultimately leading to the home of Coniston Bluebird - The Bull.

Gavin's introduction to the Inn Way couldn't be easier.  Farmland - with great views of the Coniston Fells - take us to Beacon Tarn and the Blawith fells.

Leaving Broughton
Old Man Ahead
Beacon Tarn
Beacon Tarn
Coniston Views
Gav - Lost in the scenery

We know we are having an easy day.  We share the route with dog walkers.

Torver - a two pub metropolis - is reached at 1:15pm.   I can show Gav what the Inn Way is all about.

Pub 22 - The Wilson Arms, Torver - Loweswater Gold

Day 6, 22 pubs and finally, I have the same pint in the two different pubs.   Shows how the independent brewery trade in the North is really flourishing - there's been so much variety.   No hardship to have a repeat of the Loweswater Gold.  It might be pint of the week.

Wilson Arms
Wilson Arms
Wilson Arms
Introducing Gavin to the potential Pint of the Week
Pub 23 - The Church House Inn, Torver, Theakston XB

Hardly worth putting our rucksacks back on.  Pub 2 is directly over the road and the pick of the two in Torver.  Multi roomed tardis pub, oozing history and with a lovely sun trap beer garden.

Theakston XB was pint of the week on last years Inn Way to the Yorkshire Dales.   I was keen to get reacquainted.  Unfortunately, it wasn't as I remembered it.

Maybe it doesn't travel.

Gav goads me with his beautiful pint from the Barngates Brewery.

Church House Inn
Church House Inn - Fine Pub.  Disappointing Theakstons XB
The afternoon's walking is top quality.   We climb past some deserted quarries and pick up the Walna Scar Road.  There is a serious suggestion of actually climbing the Old Man.  There's no real need when the views are just as fine from where we are.

Off to Coniston
Fortified by 2 pints, Gav leads the charge onto the Old Man

Homestead Quarries
Homestead Quarries
Coniston Views
Looking over Coniston Water
An argument with the landed gentry about rights of way leads us to the next pub and the day's exertions are over.

Pub 24 - The Ship Inn, Bowmanstead, Hartleys Cambrian XB

The Ship Inn clings to the side of the hill above Coniston Water.  A choice of three real ales but one is turned around, the 2nd goes on selection and we are left with the final choice.

We take it outside and watch a man nail a massive Lib Dem sign to the fence.

Ship Inn
Ship Inn, Bowmanstead
The landlord come out and asks us who nailed the sign to his property.

We dob in the wannbe Tim Farron.

A quick look at the lake and a short stride into what has become my favourite Lakeland village. We've been to Coniston before and it now seems like its had a bit of a facelift.   The four pubs were immaculate.  3 of them are in the 2017 CAMRA Good Pub Guide.

Coniston Water
Coniston Water
Coniston Views
Approaching Coniston.

Pub 25 - The Bull Inn, Coniston, Bluebird

Black Bull, Coniston
Dream Location
All our dreams have come true.  Not only are we staying in a brewery - its the Coniston Brewery.  It might have won Champion Beer of Britain back in 1998 but we are traditionalists.

The rooms have had a major revamp since our last stop 9 years ago.   A quick drop off of our rucksacks and we are down to a pint in our stockinged feet, taking the banter from a group of Geordie walkers who learn all about the Inn Way from the "Sandie Shaws of Rambling".

No doubt some more converts.   A glorious sit in the sunshine before making ourselves presentable for the remaining three pubs in town.

Pub 26 - The Sun Inn, Coniston, Loweswater Gold

Sun Inn, Coniston
Sun Inn - Magnificent

Well, we meet the Landlord.   A cross between Jeremy Clarkson and Nigel Farage and yes, he is standing for UKIP in the elections.

He is also as drunk as a lord.  His gaff, his rules.

He keeps us mightily entertained, first by telling us how to to get Britain out of Europe.  At least three times and moving on, once we have got the answer correct.

Confidence gained, he then proceeds to show us the hoohah caused by a little joke of his about FGM on his smartphone.

Mr Alan Piper, you brightened up our visit and left us in high spirits.

Sun Inn, Coniston
The Sun Inn.   Alan went for a lie down.
Pub 27 - The Crown Inn, Coniston, Hartleys Cumbria Way
Crown Inn, Coniston
A bit of TLC has been applied
Much, much smarter than I remember it from my last visit.  Its had a make over both inside and out.

No Landlord based entertainment.

Pub 28 - The Yewdale Inn, Coniston, Barngates Tag Lag

CAMRA regional pub of the Year 2016/7.

Yewddale Inn, Coniston
Deservedly So
Its here that I took Gav's advice and went for a Barngates Brewery option.  A top quality pint, perfectly kept.   We'll look out for Barngates in their Ambleside location tomorrow.

A top day - walking in glorious sunshine in great locations and a very pubby day.   We celebrate the way Alan would want us to, back at the Black Bull with a final nightcap.

And we try not to worry about tomorrow's weather.

Back at the Bull, Coniston
To Alan.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

13/05/17 - Inn Way to Lake District - Day 5 - Boot to Broughton In Furness

Start - Boot
End - Broughton In Furness
Distance -  13.7 Miles
Key Features -  Dunnerdale Forest and Fells
Geocaches - 1
Pubs - 5 (21 In Total)
Previous Legs - Day 1Day 2Day 3, Day 4

Day 5 of the Inn Way to the Lake District and for the first time, the wet weather gear needs to be unpacked.   The best breakfast of the week (Boot Inn) is shared in a conservatory, where the rain hammers down on the roof and the wind rattles through the windows.

Fortunately, its a easy day's walking and I have the added incentive of company.  Gavin joins me tonight after a rail journey almost as epic as my 5 days walking.

Out into the elements and the River Esk is picked up at a remote church, St Katherines.

Remote St Katherines
The Esk is followed to Doctor Bridge (functional architecture, not a person) and a grim climb on featureless common ground where the path keeps disappearing under Harter Fell.

Morning Grimness on the Inn Way
The Dunnerdale Forest provides a change to walking conditions but there is little to remember this morning's walking by.   I need a pub to break up the monotony.

Dunnderdale Forest
Dunnerdale Forest
Pub 17 - Newfield Inn, Seathwaite, Elder Gold

Winner of both the cheapest pint (£3) and possibly the most remote pub on the Inn Way, although the Wasdale Head may contest that claim.   The sun has come out, so I get a convoluted process of de-goretexing in their tiny front porch.

Newfield Inn
All that can come off at the Newfield Inn
A handful of rambler punters and I sit at the bar, thinking the Buttermere Beauty is not all that.

Buttermere Beauty
Four Pinter?
It's a quick pint and out into the sporadic sunshine to cross the Dunnerdale Fells.  Only thing of real interest is that at one point I can see the sea and we are not too far from pub 2 of the day.

Seeing the Sea
Sea in the Distance
Pub 18 - The Blacksmiths Arms, Broughton Mills, Foxfields Lickle Pale

Blacksmiths Arms
Blacksmiths Arms, Broughton Mills....
Blacksmiths Arms
.... Since 1748
Winner of best pub chat on the Inn Way, without a doubt.   I walk in, the fire is roaring and there are three people.  Mr Farmer, Mrs Farmer and the barman.   Recommendations are made as to which ale to choose and it transpires that the barman here is also the Foxfields brewer - made at the Prince of Wales, Foxfield.  This is near the train station where Gavin has arrived and he has been trying to lure me to meet him.  The thought of an extra couple of miles is making this a most unlikely scenario.

Mr Farmer, recognising my Midlands accent asks where I am from in distinct Brummie tones.   Transpires he is from Hall Green, Birmingham.   Despite me working out the price of a cow (£1200, on average) from him, I never quite get to understand how he came to be farming in the Lakes.

A 2nd Farmer comes in and they are in for a session.  I think how easy this farming must be if you can spend the afternoon in a pub, before realising it is Saturday.

Mrs Farmer leaves but not without offering me a lift into Broughton In Furness.   I was tempted, but I would have only been cheating myself.  Besides, what would Gavin have said if he saw me approaching in a Land Rover.

It's less than a couple of miles into Broughton itself, all low level, with the only hazard a field of frisky grand a pop Frisians.

The High Cross Inn on the entrance to Broughton gains notoriety as the first and only dead pub on the Inn Way.   Its all closed up and inquires show its reopening as a cafe.

High Cross Inn (Closed)
Inn Way to the Lake District - Now 43 Pubs and a soon to open Cafe

Pub 19 - The Black Cock Inn, Broughton In Furness, Moorhouses Pendle Witches Brew

Of course, on pre-walk planning, there was much hilarity at the name of tonights lodgings.  Gavin convinced me he was going to ask the first person he saw at Foxfields Station, "How far is the Black Cock Inn?"

How far is the Black Cock Inn?
The Black Cock Inn
Its the entertainment hub of the town, containing pool table, fine food and for one night only, live music by the Sad Eyed Puffins.   They're on from 9:30pm till midnight and we get to see their unique brand of agit-pop on our return from checking out the other pubs.   Indian headdress five piece doing a funk out to a song about "No More Pylons".

Pub 20 - The Old Kings Head, Broughton In Furness, Keswick Gold

We went for the tick, spotting it for what it was.... a rather posh gastro pub.  There was a small drinking area to one side of the pub, so we didn't appear too incongruous.  We stayed for as long as the Keswick Gold lasted.

Old Kings Head
Old Kings Head Gastro Pub
Pub 21 - The Manor Arms, Broughton In Furness, Yates Bitter

Manor Arms
The Manor Arms - Drinkers Pub for Drinkers
The opposite end of the sale to the Old Kings Head.   This is a delightful drinkers pub, fully worthy of its entry in the Good Beer Guide.  This photo tells you all you need to know.

Manor Arms
Classic Pub Furntiture and Camra awards galore
Great beer, great pub.

We head back to the Black Cock Inn to feel the full force of the Sad Eyed Puffins.  The lack of stage meant we were rather close to the band and after five pubs, I'd have been tempted to grab the maracas and join in, Bez Style.

We decide to retire to our room and listen through the floorboards.