Sunday, 26 November 2017

26/11/17 - The Abberley Circular

Distance - 3.7 Miles
Geocaches - 1
Walk Inspiration
Pub - The Manor Arms, Wye Valley HPA

Another cold, crisp winter day under glorious blue skies.  Mrs M demands a walk, fully in the knowledge that I fancied a day recovering from a 300 mile round trip and 10 mile walk in Kent yesterday.

Sometimes, you just have to take advantage of the conditions. is sparked up and a short local walk is found in Abberley, a little Worcestershire village steeped in history.   A sparkling new web site for the Manor Arms shows its back operational and allows tables to be booked on-line.

Sunday is panning out rather well.

Park up at the their car park and hit the trail, heading South to conquer Abberley Hill via a gently climbing path that works with the contours.

Views from Abberley Hill
View from Abberley Hill
A mile long ridge path runs along the hill top.  Views are obscured by the trees but its fine mud free walking before a terrifyingly steep descent at Shavers End.  Definitely do the walk in the direction advised.

On the Ridge
Abberley Hill Ridge Path
The Worcestershire Way is picked up, even if it has been subtly moved by land owners in the years since my OS map was published.  Despite GPS and detailed route instructions we take a couple of false turns in the sheep fields of Bank Farm, eventually annoying the farmer by turning up in his yard.  Hedge based stiles are sometimes too tricky to spot.

Working our way back
If you're going to get lost, get lost somewhere gorgeous
No further navigational blunders, we can see the Church Spire and know that the only unfound geocache of the day awaits.   A quick find and a delightful walk through the village green to the pub.

Abberley Church
Geocache Ground Zero

Manor Arms, Abberyley, Wye Valley HPA

Manor Arms
Manor Arms, Abberley.  Now in Good Health.

Every village needs a pub at its focal point.  The Manor Arms is now in good health, following a major refurbishment.  There have been times in the new millennium when it has been sadly closed down.

Which is a terrible fate for any C17th inn that can trace its history so well.  Some wonderful old photos and history at this web site.

Today, its been knocked through and lovingly restored as a country dining house.  Every table, including those in the old front bar, is setup with multiple items of cutlery, napkins and wine glasses of differing sizes.

They haven't neglected beer - with Butty and HPA from Wye Valley sitting next to Ludlow Gold.

The lunch was superb, resulting in a perfect Sunday.

Until Mrs M decided to start DIY.

Wye Valley HPA at the Manor Arms
Wye Valley HPA

Saturday, 25 November 2017

25/11/17 - Edenbridge and the Eden Valley

Distance - 10.2 Miles
Geocaches - 8
Walk Inspiration - Adventurous Pub Walks in Kent, Walk 2
Pubs - The Old Eden and Ye Olde Crown

Edenbridge, 38 minutes out of London Bridge and worlds apart.

I'd never been to Edenbridge before but a new walking book. combining pubs with adventurous walks, provided just the inspiration.  The weather could not have been more perfect, the mud mostly frozen, the skies perfectly blue.

A Sidetracked Multi Geocache waits at the station with no more geocaches until I am half away around the Kentish sheep fields, oast houses and farms.  The route picks up the Eden Valley walk from the town centre, which awaits exploration on my return.

Eden Valley Walk
Early marker for the Eden Valley Walk
Sheep Worriers
Specific Instructions to Dog Owners. Shot. Dead
Kentish Farmhouses
Kentish Farm Houses
Kentish Oasthouses
Kentish Oasthouses
Crippendon Manor is roughly the half way point.  The terrain changes from farm land to wood land and I pick up part of a circular geocache trail centered around Dry Hill Fort.

Ten Acre Woods
Ten Acre Woods
The river Eden provides the navigational aid to walk home, passing Starborough castle - now a dressed country house but a full on castle until Cromwell got his hands on it in 1648, leaving just a moat.

3 hours 30 minutes and I'm coming back into town to see what is available refreshment wise.  The guidebook recommended Ye Olde Crown Inn for its "Tetleys and Greene King IPA".  Its 14 years old.

The Old Eden, 121 High Street, Otter Bitter

The pick of the pubs.  If the guidebook is ever updated, it should change its recommendation.  C15th building and fitting nicely in with the other ancient buildings in the high street.

The Old Eden
The Old Eden
Edenbridge Architecture
At home in the High Street

A choice had to be made between Otter Bitter and Harvey's Sussex Best.  Doom Bar was also available but as I said, a choice had to be made.  I went Otter and avoided taking over one the tables that was much needed for the many diners by sitting at a bar stool.

Relaxing with an Otter
Relaxing with an Otter
A little further up the high street is The King and Queen.  I popped my head through the door, saw a single other punter and couldn't identify any real ale.  I quickly popped back out.

Ye Olde Crown, 74-76 High Street, Ringwood FortyNiner

History wise, there's not much else you could ask for from a pub.  Secret tunnels between the pub and the church, used by C17th smugglers.  Landlords that can be traced back to 1593.  Unique signage spanning the high street.

This is why micro pubs, in converted haberdasheries, will never pass the test of time.

Ye Olde Crown, Edenbridge
Welcoming boozers since the 1300s
Ye Olde Crown, Edenbridge
Unique, road spanning sign

Just the one real ale on here but to be fair, it was in decent condition.  No complaints from me.

A chance to soak in the history and the timeless qualities of an English Inn that has been running for centuries.  When you wait 45 minutes for a fish finger sandwich, you have plenty of time to reflect.

Ringwood 49er
Ringwood Fortyniner

Saturday, 11 November 2017

11/11/17 - Bishop's Castle Pubs

Bishop's Castle offers plenty to the Rambler.  We came three years ago, expecting to find the Three Tuns brewery but being surprised by the wealth of beery entertainment options available.  A proper night out is required to sample the pubs and the two breweries.

Pub crawl inspiration was found in a nifty little CAMRA guide but for the definitive pub guide - you have to love the Internet.  This cracking site details the current 6 and the lost 40.  Good work.

50 GreatPubWalks
49 other adventures await
Following a damp November walk over Oakeley Mynd, we had the afternoon, evening and night to explore.

The Six Bells, Church Street, Cloud Nine
Six Bells
Six Bells - Pub and Brewery
Returning into BC, we decide to knock a couple off and the Six Bells is a fine place to start any adventure.  Its a decent enough pub, but also a brewery.  Through the porch and closed doors left or right.  Decision time and we make the correct choice by going right, where the bar and other customers are located.

The punters are a lady waiting for her CAMRA loving husband and son to come back from a brewery tour and three dogs - including the adorable Milly the resident Labradoodle.  She refused to give up her bench seat, even when humans fill the bar later in the day.

Service - and fire starting - is provided by two enthusiastic Polish Ladies.  We will meet them, and Milly, later on.

Inside the 6 Bells
Marie Celeste of bars.  10 mins later, the place was heaving
Beer wise, I was on new ground and consulted the various menus dotted around the place.  I went for a Cloud Nine - A Golden Beer that was functional.  When the CAMRA tour came back, they all had Hero - which looked much more lively than mine.

I could have stayed all day to sample more but there was much work to do.

The Boar's Head, Church Street. Ludlow Gold

Boars Head
Boars Head - Food
Well presented, welcoming family dining type pub with a wonderful log burner.  One or two real ales on and the Ludlow Gold was in fine condition.   Cask Marque Accredited.

Ludlow Gold at the Boar's Head
Fast becoming a favourite
Castle Hotel, Market Square, Clun Pale Ale

The Castle Hotel
BC by Night
Town full of surprises.  Night fell in BC and we headed out for our evening meal.  This tick was included, simply to complete the town, as you don't expect much beer wise from a hotel.

But this place was top notch.  Once you work out how to get in, there's a proper bar full of drinkers, taking advantage of Chesterfields, a log burner and a really top class selection of ales.   There were several from the three tuns (going there next), some Hobsons and a never before seen Clun Brewery Pale Ale.

Clun Pale Ale at the Castle Hotel
Even has a record in UnTappd for check in
Great place.

The Three Tuns, Salop Street, Rantipole

After our last visit, I went to a pub quiz in my local where the question was "Name England's oldest Brewery".  My team mate looked to me.  I said The Three Tuns, Bishops Castle, with some confidence.  I had read their bar mats.   The answers came in.  Shepherd's Neame.  Much protestation ensued but I may have mis-read the info.  This is England's oldest licenced brewery.

It was, as I remember it.  Good food and organised tours of men who have come especially to this small town for beery day out.

Three Tuns
England's Oldest?
Did I learn anything new on this visit?  It's in the 2018 Good Beer Guide.  There's a blue plaque on outside dedicated to the man who wrote the songs for Cliff Richard and the Shadows.  The Rantipole was even better than the Cleric's Cure.

The Kings Head, Church Street, Wye Valley Butty Bach

The night is moving on and we determine where the action in town is on these last two ticks.

External photos were not possible due to the many smokers gathered outside on both our entrance and exit.

We fight our way through and the place is heaving but we strike lucky, with a pub crawl party of 10 men just about to leave.  We can soak in the atmosphere of a popular market town pub at 9:30pm.  Things we observe.

  • Oasis is the most popular band on the jukebox
  • There are some spectacularly drunken people
  • Many of them have come straight from work.  Unless its fancy dress and high viz jackets is the theme
A cracking atmosphere and a very good example of my local tipple.   This photo captures pub life.

Kings Head
Pub Life
The Crown and Anchor Vaults, High Street, Ludlow Gold

We had high hopes for this place as we could see the sign from our B&B over the road that proclaimed live music.   But how good will The Endings be?

Crown and Anchor Vaults
Bathed in Orange.  With Live Music
They were perfect Saturday night entertainment - fiddle driven Irish based rock anthems.  Everyone in town knows they are on, as most of the Kings Head come in once they start up and our two blokely pub crawl teams are already here.

We manage to get a seat at the back and peer at the action through gaps in the bar.

The Endings at the Crown Vaults
The Endings at the Vaults
In come the two Polish ladies from the Six Bells, with Milly the Labradoodle and another dog on leads.  You would think this would stop them from hitting the dancefloor with such aplomb.  If you've never seen a Pole do an Irish jig with a dog on a lead, then get yourself down to Bishop's Castle on a Saturday.

With our room in such close proximity to the action, there's no point in going home.

Our extended stay is rewarded with a rendition of "A Fairy Tale of New York" and we know Xmas is on the horizon.

11/11/17 - Bishop's Castle to Lydbury North

Distance - 7 Miles
Geocaches - 0
Walk Inspiration - Country Walking Magazine, Dec 2011, Walk 10
Pub - The Powis Arms, Lydbury North

We can hold the weather forecaster's responsible for this weekend's activities.  On Thursday, we were promised two days of glorious sunshine.  We looked to book a weekend adventure and settle on Bishop's Castle - an ancient Shropshire Market town, with much to offer the keen rambler and beer drinker.

By Friday, the forecast had changed.  To rain and fog.

Too late - our C16th Bed and Breakfast was booked up.

We start from the town centre and head South East to the nearest hill, Oakeley Mynd.  A fine path across fields and then through pine woods delivers us to the top.  The low cloud questions the logic of our endeavours.

Oakeley Mynd
Across Farmland to Oakeley Mynd
Oakeley Mynd
Plodding up, with Bishop's Castle behind
Oakeley Mynd
Topping out with no views

Lydbury North is the half way point.  A church, a school and a pub.  Our timing is impeccable at 12:01 but initial panic set in when the front door wouldn't open.  A skirt around the back and we are first in - with staff outnumbering punters 3-2 at this relatively early part of the afternoon.

Lydbury North
Lydbury North's Massive Church
Powis Arms, Lydbury North
Real Ale, Food, B&B and Camping
Ludlow Gold
A beautiful Ludlow Gold

I always worry that the first pint pulled that day will be poor quality but no complaints about this stunning looking locALE.

On with the walk and its as simple as going back up and over Oakeley Mynd a bit further to the west and along another good sunken path.

Sunken Path
Kicking the leaves over the Mynd

Views on any other Day
More lost views
A suitably beery welcome to a town that used to have 46 pubs but somehow manages to support two breweries and 6 pubs.   A field report to follow.

Beery Welcome to Bishop's Castle
Bishop's Castle promising beer

Saturday, 4 November 2017

04/11/17 - Heart of England Way Stage 7 - Hints

Distance - 6 Miles
Geocaches - 6
Previous Stages - Stage 1Stage 2Stage 3Stage 4Stage 5, Stage 6

No real way of sugar coating this walk, its a case of "After the Lord Mayors Show".

The walking on Stage 6 was average but it did have the benefit of ending in a City with four Good Beer Guide Pubs.  Stage 7 starts at Hints, a DRY village that is so boring, the A5 was re-routed to avoid motorists falling asleep.

It means that Old Watling Street provides a quiet refuge for parking.

Road to Nowhere
The old A5 at Hints.  A lost highway
We start by heading north to pick up where we left the HOEW at Knox's Grave Lane.  There's a roped off quarry, an aerial and 3 elderly caches that don't get found too often.

Crossing back over the A5, we do get some views of agricultural Staffordshire.  This is where someone comments "What did you expect from Staffordshire?  Sydney Opera House, perhaps? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically...."

Leafy Lanes
I bring you leafy HOEW....
Some views
... And a Clump of Trees

Normally the pub saves the most boring of walks but today, we are in trouble.

Hints has a Church and little else.   We kept our eyes peeled for a suitable refreshment stop on the road from J10 of the M42.  There was nothing.....

We try heading home through Sutton Coldfield.

Once Mrs M had refused the Harvester, I knew there was no chance of the Hungry Horse.

For the 1st time, I have a Mappiman Real Ale walk with no real ale.

The next leg of the HOEW looks even less inspiring....  my guidebook doesn't even describe it properly and it seems to be along lanes with no verges and lots of cars.

Next month, I may be blogging a first Virtual Walk.