Saturday, 25 June 2022

25/06/22 - John Bonham's Grave

Distance - 6.5 Miles

Geocaches - 1

Walk Inspiration - Country Walking Magazine, Spring 2022, Walk 9

There's not much at Rushock, Worcestershire.  A village hall - all closed up.  A manor house.  A church, where the graveyard is the final resting place of John Bonham, Led Zeppelin's original drummer.

This location provides the main point of interest in an otherwise dull walk in the Worcestershire countryside - plagued by overgrown paths and illegally obstructed public rights of way.  It's surprisingly easy to report this with Worcestershire County Council.

Worcestershire in Summer Time
A less overgrown, more pleasant part of the walk

I start off at the Chequers pub in Cutnall Green - always planning ahead and take a route through the abandoned medieval village of Elmley Lovett.  Vague earthworks under knee length grass do not make for good photographs.

Its not long before I've reached the high ground of Rushock and its church.  With such a small graveyard and such a well visited spot, it's not hard to find John.

Rushock Church
Rushock Church
John Bonham
Easy to find the target
John Bonham
John Bonham's Grave
Vistors Book
International visitors now have a walking route, if they want to make a day of it

The Monarch's Way is a decent enough return to Cutnall Green and refreshement.

The Chequers is the most gastro of pubs - the sort of place that has every interior table setup for dining but no menus on the tables. A specials board contains so many ingredients, I am unsure where one meal ends and the next starts.  Fortunately, the drinkers are well catered for with Wye Valley HPA, Butty Bach and the becoming more ubiquitous than Doom Bar, Timothy Taylor Landlord.

Chequers, Cutnall Green
Imposing "Country Pub and Dining"

Chequers, Cutnall Green
Timmy and me felt more comfortable in the Beach Hut

Saturday, 18 June 2022

18/06/22 - Boozing on the 52 Bus

Geocaching - 1 x Adventure Lab Cache

Good Beer Guide Ticks - #685 - #687

A spare Saturday to knock off an expedition that I have had planned in theory for several months. It's my aim to complete Worcestershire in the 2022 Good Beer Guide.  Three unticked pubs lie along the Kidderminster to Redditch 52 Bus Route.  Diamond Buses offer a County Rover Ticket.  £8 for unlimited travel.  

How do you spend your weekends?  I know one of my Untappd friends does exactly the same as me.  I saw his checkin's from the same locations on the same afternoon.  If only I knew what he looked like.

Rising Sun, Redditch, Goffs Jouster

Rising Sun, Redditch
JDW New Build

Exercise completed around the walker unfriendly town and I hit JDW at the slightly tricky time of 11:28am.

I am after breakfast. I know that breakfast stops at 11:30am. I also know they do an all day brunch.  Breakfast with chips.  What I didn't know is that they stick to deadly accurate time keeping.  At 11:29am, you cannot order chips with your breakfast.  Unless you come back in 1 minutes time.  Tim saving me from myself.

Everything up to standard at this spoons.  Excellent cask at £2.10.  Pensioner friendly.  Friendly staff.  Cleaner than usual. 

In these times of rampant inflation, they may be the future.  Never thought I'd say that.

Rising Sun, Redditch
A Non Sticky Table in a Spoons

 Alestones, Tardebigge, Duval Tripel Hop

The 52 is bang on time and the great thing is the stops are directly opposite my two next pubs.

Alestones, Tardebigge
No stop more lonely than an unsheltered stop in the rain

Alestones is an odd little place in an odd little place.  Its part of a complex of shops in a little courtyard.  The people in front of me were merely having a mooch whilst their wives had gone shopping.

Alestones, Tardebigge
Through the Archway

A tiny little bar makes me think I am going to have to sit on someone's lap.  However, there is another room to the side and I am led to believe more seating if you walk through the bar.

I'm happy in the room that has been furnished following a ram raid on a church.

Alestones, Tardebigge
Complete with Hymn Order

Four handpulls on and my host tried to tempt me with a Wheat Beer from Leyland's Crankshaft brewery.  It seemed to be going down well with the locals.  

I played safe with a Duval.

Cross Inn, Finstall
Black Country Ales Colour Scheme

Cross Inn, Finstall, North Cotswold Brewery Jumping Jack Flash 

Again, no bus drama and its a couple of miles to the final pub of the day.  Black Country Ales have this mode of operation down to a fine art.  They take over a traditional pub, give it a sympathetic make over and install a TV Screen showing their beery options.

It works.  This place was packed on a Saturday afternoon.  And lovely to see more than one crib game in action.

Cross Inn, Finstall
It's a Gas, Gas, Gas

The TV Screen says "Cider:  Refer to Board" and there is a comprehensive list available.  Spurred on from cider success in Kent Micropubs and an enthusiastic podcast from the Beer O'Clock Show I decide to experiment.   After all, there is 30 minutes until the next bus.

I opt for a Barbourne Major Jane and my server disappears outside to fetch it from god knows where.

It was a challenge. Completed, just as the 52 arrived 2 minutes early.

More urgent flagging down of transport has not been seen since the Railway Children made a flag out of their petticotes.  

Sunday, 12 June 2022

12/06/22 - Centenary Way - Stage 10 - Brandon, Warwickshire

Distance - 5.5 Miles

Geocaches - 2

Pub - Royal Oak, Brandon

Previous Stages - Stage 1Stage 2Stage 3Stage 4Stage 5Stage 6Stage 7Stage 8, Stage 9

The Centenary Way reaches double figures and still fails to excite.  Mrs M, however, will do anything on the promise of a Sunday Lunch out and Brandon's Royal Oak scores an impressive 4.5 on Tripadvisor.

It's from there we start, and some dull road walking leads to the question "what does Coventry Stadium host".  My answer of speedway appears to have been correct.  But it may well be condemned. 

Coventry Stadium

The arrow straight 12 O'Clock ride runs perfectly north through woodland to Coombe Abbey.  Typical Warwickshire countryside, the return.

Twelve O'Clock Ride
12 O'Clock Ride

Centenary Way
Sorry - The Warwickshire Countryside is all I have

So the Royal Oak.  The website is excellent and allows for on-line booking of tables.  The outside is gunmetal grey - a colour scheme that will surely go the way of avocado bathrooms.

Royal Oak, Brandon
Another Sunday.  Another Sunday Lunch

Beerwise - four cask and they managed to find a glass that matched my Tribute.

Foodwise - high quality, good service, Mrs M not getting too disappointed that the web advertised Lamb was unavailable.

This is why I never look at menus before arrival.

Saturday, 11 June 2022

11/06/22 - Two weekends of searching for Company - Summersesh and Rambling from Bidford-on-Avon

Distance - 10 Miles

Geocaches - 0 (banned)

A couple of weekends of attempting to find company with my fellow man. I cannot be isolated when it comes to retirement. I'll get some practice in, whilst I suffer the death throes of a salaried man.

Last weekend, I pushed myself well out of my comfort zone by heading to the Beer O'Clock Podcast Summersesh. Not easy walking into a room full of strangers. My plan, put into perfect execution, was to hang around the bar. All other punters would have to come up to me at some point.  Most fellow boozers were on Twitter. So I had conversation items lined up. Although a stranger's reaction to questions on how their Avanti Train Journey had been did make me look like the stalking weirdo I surely am.

By the third pint, I didn't care and neither did they. Our podcasts hosts called for a bit of hush for a speech.  After 10 years, they are closing the podcast down.

How fecking typical.  I join a group.  The group instantly folds.

Unperturbed by this setback, I try again, this time with Mrs M.  We join a walking group for a ramble.  But only if I promise not to hold up the group by geocaching. Rather hard to walk past several GZ, without diving into a bush.

The walk was one that I have completed before - along the Avon from Bidford. Into the Shakespearean villages of Barton, Wellford and Dorsington. Our walk leader had tried to make the walk themed around the poet Felix Dennis.  No, I've never heard of him either. We found his house. Patience within the group was tested when we failed to find Felix themed sculptures.

The Group
Spot Mappiman, amongst his new friends

River Avon on the way to Barton
River Avon on the way to Barton

Felix Dennis Gaff
Felix Dennis Gaff

Cottage of Content
Post Walk Refreshment - Landlord at the Cottage of Content

What did I learn?

  • The sweet walk leader worried about everything.  She's not responsible for the state of the paths or other peoples enjoyment.  But she constantly apologised for both
  • Don't get involved in direction finding.  
    • Half a dozen people with GPS technology is only going to work if we all know what route we are meant to be on.
  • I could have geocached without holding anyone up.
  • Double estimations on likely duration.  This was an all day thing.
  • Sausage dogs can walk 10 miles.
    • And so can French Bulldogs.
  • The ones that moaned the most gave the walk leader the biggest goodbye hugs
  • 25% of women will wild wee.  10% will announce it to all and sundry.
  • The post walk pint was a bigger joy with a big group, in a lovely beer garden
    • But next time, beat the coffee drinkers to the bar
  • We loved it.  And will be back again.
  • I may even join the Ramblers
    • Although Mrs M has warned me that they are rigid rule keepers and I wouldn't like it
    • But she never expected me to go through with my beer influencer meet up

Thursday, 2 June 2022

02/06/22 - Chiltern Chain Walk - Stage 14 - West Wycombe

Distance - 15 Miles

Geocaches - 7 and an ALC

Walk Inspiration

Previous Stages - Stage 1Stage 2Stage 3Stage 4Stage 5Stage 6Stage 7Stage 8Stage 9Stage 10Stage 11Stage 12, Stage 13

God Bless The Queen.  A four day weekend, although by Sunday, no-one has any idea what day it is.

This lengthy walk in the Chilterns was completed at the start of the holiday, when optimism was fresh and the sun was shining.

West Wycombe is where all the glory and interest is - and an Adventure Lab Cache takes me to five locations to tell spooky stories.

  • A headless horseman at the golden sphere topped church of St Lawrence
  • The heart of Paul Whitehead, stolen in 1837 by an Australian soldier
  • The phantom monk at the Hellfire Caves
  • Suki, died at the George and Dragon following injuries sustained from trickster locals, who she now haunts dressed in all in white
  • A traveller, murdered at the George and Dragon, whose footsteps can be heard at the pub
I probably should have completed the walk at dusk.  At the end of October.

West Wycombe Church
Church of St Lawrence.  Golden sphere a beacon for the route home
West Wycombe Mausoleum
The Mausoleum 
Hellfire Caves Entrance
Entrance to the Hell Fire Caves.  C18th Drinking Den
Dropping down to West Wycombe
Entrance to West Wycombe.  C21st Drinking Den(s)

This walk is so typical of the Chilterns and I have said it before on this Long Distance Path.  It's superb to walk but not so great to photograph.  Pretty paths through mature woodland.  The ups and down of several pretty dry valleys.

The Chilterns at West Wycombe
You get the idea - it's lovely

But I'm sure you are here for the misery.  And pubs.

At 11:30am, I reach Fingest for a handsome looking pub - the Chequers.  At least its still going, even if its doesn't open for another 30 minutes.

The Chequers, Fingest
Not the only traveller contemplating waiting for the scrape of the bolt
The Chequers, Fingest
Forget Cask Marque Plaques - this is a TV Location

The water runs out at Studley Green. The OS Map shows the big blue cup of joy but Google is less enthusiastic.  If you look hard enough, you will find an entry for the Studley Arms but no picture or reviews.  Hitting the road about 500m away, a pub sign can be seen.  It has been repurposed to say "Welcome to Studley Green".  The Studley Arms died many years ago.

It's a 3 mile plod back to the car.  When very thirsty, its easy to mistake the red kites for vultures.

West Wycombe has a couple of pubs.  The aforementioned haunted George and Dragon.  The only Buckinghamshire entry in my CAMRA Heritage Pubs book, the Swan.  In the interest of new experiences, I make the short journey along the A40 to the Dashwood Arms.  A biker friendly roadhouse.

The Dashwood, West Wycombe
And Car Friendly
Rebellion Smuggler at the Dashwood
Rebellion Smugglers - and Water

The garden is being taken advantage off by bank holiday revellers.  The staff were being run ragged - sacrificing manning the bar in preference of delivering meals to hungry sunbathers.

If only I had known there was a second bar in the garden.  But would they have had the hand pulls on?

Saturday, 28 May 2022

28/05/22 - The Didsbury Dozen

Distance - 2 Miles

Pubs - 11 (!), Good Beer Guide Tick #683

Walk Inspiration 

An Improvised Map - (Google Maps only allows 10 Destinations on a Route)

There's a few of these epic pub crawls knocking about. The Otley Run in Leed, the Monopoly Pub Crawl in London, for example.. Somewhere along the way I made a note of the Didsbury Dozen for a time when I was in the area.  Stage 3 of the Greater Manchester Ringway dropped me off on at 1pm on a Saturday afternoon, with nothing else in the diary apart from the evening Champions League Final.  

There's quite a few on-line resources, blogs, and historical forum posts for planning. However, nothing stays the same. The main resource I planned to use has already lost the Greenfinch. To Flats. I'll substitute the Nelson.  According to blogs, it was possible to complete with "12 traditional pubs and no poncy wine bars". Forums from the late 90's suggest "You are a puff if you only drink halves". To the unreconstructed of the last century, "I am a puff".

A rambler having an (admittedly impressive) post walk drink in 12 pubs will make a lengthy and dull blog.  I'll tell the story in photographs. Which may well be dull but at least it will be short(er).    

Didsbury Dozen #1 - The Didsbury
#1 - The Didsbury - Chef and Brewer hangout for middle class dogs.  TT Landlord.

Didsbury Dozen # - Ye Olde Cock
#2 - Ye Olde Cock - Directly opposite, punters hoovered up by #1. Paulaner Weissbier

Didsbury Dozen #Dead - The Famous Crown
#Dead - The Famous Crown.  Famous for being closed.  Goodbye, no beer.

Didsbury Dozen #3 - The Royal Oak
#3 - Royal Oak - Proper Marstons pub, with a lovely interior.  Ringwood Boondoggle.

Didsbury Dozen #4 - Fletcher Moss
#4 - Good Beer Guide Tick at the Hydes Fletcher Moss.  Celebrated with a pint of Lowry.

Didsbury Dozen #5 - The Nelson
#5 - The Nelson, a substitue.  Horse Racing (TV 1).  Football (TV2).  Iron Maiden (Jukebox).  Staropramen.  

Didsbury Dozen #6 - Dog and Partridge
#6 - Dog and Partridge - So good, I didn't even recognise as a Greene King.  Landlord.

Didsbury Dozen #7 - The Dockyard
#7 - The Dockyard - Huge TV Screen showing the Grimsby Wrexham 5-4 Ding Dong.  A proper game of football.  Staropramen.

Didsbury Dozen #8 - Head of Steam
#8 - Still Halves.  Just 11% Straffe Hendrik.  Champions League in jeopardy for more than just Scousers

Didsbury Dozen #9 - Wine and Wallop
#9 - Wine and Wallop.  Poncy wine bar.  Fine club sandwich.  And Chips.  And Lowenbrau.

Didsbury Dozen #10 - The Railway
#10 - The Railway.  Like all pubs named The Railway, earthy.  Holt Bitter

Didsbury Dozen #11 - The Metropolitan
#11 - A finale - The Metropolitan.  A monster barn of a pub.  Landlord to reflect on how I spend my leisure hours. 

Didsbury Dozen #11 - The Metropolitan
That's if they let me in.  I am dressed as a 10 drink in rambler

28/05/22 - Greater Manchester Ringway - Stage 3 - Bramhall to Didsbury

Start - Bramhall Railway Station

Finish -  Didsbury

Previous Stages - Stage 1, Stage 2

Distance - 7 Miles

Geocaches - 3 

Walk Inspiration

A change of plan for Stage 3 of the Greater Manchester Ringway. I have heard about something called the "Didsbury Dozen". With an afternoon free, I'll start at Bramhall to ensure that I finish at Didsbury.

Good use of my System One day pass.  Swinton Train Station is (wo)manned, so there is someone to ask about an elusive public transport ticket that is unavailable from automated machines and newsagents recommended on the website. Three trains and I am alighting at Bramhall - a positively leafy suburb of Stockport.

Once through the grounds of Bramhall Hall - A Tudor manor house never actually seen on route, so no photos - there's not a great deal to shout about this easy walk.

It follows a hidden trail along Ladybrook stream. A corridor through the housing estates of Cheadle Hulme and Cheadle - where we do surface for refreshment. I, of course, am saving myself for the 12 pubs of Didsbury.

Onwards to Bramhall Hall
Sheltered Path to Bramhall Hall
Along Ladybrook
Wild meadows alongside Ladypool Stream
Cheedle Church
Cheadle Church (pubs are available)
Back to the Mersey, to find Didsbury
Picking up the Mersey, south of Didsbury for the "Didsbury 12"