Sunday, 31 August 2014

BRAPA - Birmingham City Centre to a finish!

Talk to most visitors about real ale in Birmingham and they'd have you believe that you've got to visit the  Wellington on Bennett's Hill and such is their amazing beer range, you don't need to know anything else!

So it was with low expectations that I embarked on Saturday's BRAPA trip (thanks Europa league for ruining my life for a FINAL time) looking to tick off the remaining 4 pubs in the city centre having already done Wellington, Post Office Vaults, Old Joint Stock and the like on previous football days out.

However, what I discovered were some absolute gems that left me wondering why I'd never been to them before and whether these were pubs designed for the more discerning local Brummie ale drinkers.

515 - Prince of Wales - With father Bernard in tow before his afternoon of 'culture & shopping', we found this lovely old skool traditional West Midlands pub just to the west of centre amongst the many conference centres that dominated the skyline.  The beer range was a little bit lacking with many standard real ales on and a couple of pumps turned around,  but I enjoyed a first-out-of-the-barrel honey based Enville Ale made to a 200 year old recipe, handed down to the current brewery from their great great aunt.  The atmosphere was quiet and relaxed, the barman quiet but friendly, the toilets were quirky and the walls clad with previous Princes of Wales.  

Top lampshade action at Prince of Wales

516 - Victoria - As we parted our separate ways, it suddenly started to feel like a proper BRAPA day as I lurked around outside an old theatre entrance waiting for the historic and haunted Victoria to open.  Trying not to look too desperate, I sauntered in to find an amazing Victorian style pub, both stylish and quirky in equal measures with pictures of pigeons with boobs and animals in suits for example!  Part of me felt it was trying to appeal to the young and trendy too (the music dampened the hubbub a bit) but I enjoyed a Wye Valley Butty Bach served by a friendly Irish guy who reminded me of Chris O'Dowd.  Things took a turn for the worse as a woman totally kicked off when he got her order wrong, she couldn't have dairy so changed the order and there was some mis-communication.  Having a vegan sister, I sympathised but she could have been nicer and it made for an uneasy atmos so I drank up quickly and left! 

Pigeon with boobs in the Victoria - quirky.

517 - Lamp, Highgate - I always find it interesting in Birmingham how the gay and Irish quarters seem to be in pretty much the same errm quarter, so after an entertaining 15 minute walk south, I found myself in the Highgate area at a lovely little pub called the Lamp, which seemed unspoilt in decades despite everything going on around it.  The landlord (another friendly Irish chap, but this one more along the Brendan O'Carroll lines) was hoovering and had temporarily locked the pub, possibly not expecting me, first customer of the day, despite it being after 1pm.  He told me about their Rock n Roll brewery (on the roof) so it felt only right to have a pint of Brew Springsteen.  It was not incredible, but nicer than most pubs own brewed stuff I've tried in the past.  Really relaxing little place to have a pint and read the paper, off the beaten track but not a long walk so probably the perfect pub location.

Rock & Roll ales brewed in-house at the Lamp
518 - Square Peg - After the calm of the Lamp, it was a culture shock to walk back into the city and enter the huge, bustling Wetherspoons which seemed to take up an entire street.  At 82.5 feet, it has the longest bar in Birmingham and needed about 20 staff all working hard to serve the huge number of people present.  I can't say I found my pint of Dorset Knob anything other than typical Wethers fare, but I appreciate it's been given a place in the GBG for continued improvement.  After about a mile walk with my pint behind a woman on a shopmobility scooter, I finally perched on a stool and read about local canals built by Thomas Telford and James Brindley (I'd done it for history GCSE so that's why I found it interesting, okay!)  An old man (Irish, obviously) saw me and started bemoaning modern technology and getting back to basics for what seemed like hours.  Just when I wondered how to get rid of him, I explained by BRAPA challenge and he hastily decided he was late to meet a friend and strode off! 

Old Contemptibles, my final August 2014 tick!
519 - Old Contemptibles - From Wetherspoons to Nicholson's (can you see why I saved these two for last?), Dad was already there, texting me the instructions, "follow signs for Snow Hill and you'll stumble upon it" and that's exactly how it happened!  This was a grand old pub with massive ceiling height and some lovely old features and whilst I only stayed for a half of a not too hoppy American pale, I decided that whilst it had that Nicholson's feel, it was probably better than all the ones in York.  There seems to be a certain feel to old corner pubs in the West Midlands which is hard to define, but I really notice it, whether in Brum, Cov, Wolverhampton, West Bromwich or wherever.  It's almost Yorkshire-esque, really down to earth, good humoured, proper basic boozers.  


And if the day had finished there, it would have been a resounding success.  But we HAD to go to the wonderful Barton's Arms, have a quick half at the afore mentioned Wellington, watch our train get cancelled, go to the underground Post Office Vaults, lose my bag, have a painful journey home, coffee in Leeds, feel totally monged, but can't complain on the whole.  Still a wonderful day.  25 pubs done in August, well ahead of schedule.

The breathtaking Bartons Arms, does a better pub exist?

Of the 25 done, it's very hard to pinpoint the best.  My fave Brum pub was probably the Lamp.  It would be up against Bradford's Corn Dolly, Heptonstall's White Lion, Keighley's Brown Cow and the New Inn of Appletreewick.  Overall winner?  Arggghh, don't make me choose.


So what does September bring?  Well, Histon (Red Lion beer fest) and Cambridge on Saturday 6th is a good start, I think I will hold off on the midweek West Yorkshire BRAPA for now.  I may receive the new GBG as early as this week which will mean a lot of "book-work" (to use a Tom Irvin phrase).

Saturday 13th sees a trip to Oxford, September is feeling like a top university face off!  I'll be trying to do Abingdon on the same day as you know by now, I like my letter "A" places.

Saturday 20th is a bit of a write off cos I am at Newcastle away but I'll be looking to hijack the Welly gang's plans with some pub ticks of my own (I still have 4 central pubs to do at the time of writing).

Saturday 27th will probably be my much planned and long awaited trip to Askrigg, Aysgarth, Hawes etc but if any of these pubs aren't in the new guide, I'll be revising my entire plan.

Happy pubbing, Si

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

BRAPA - deepest, darkest West Yorkshire

On Sunday I finally got the opportunity to have a BRAPA day and despite West Yorkshire being traditionally my midweek county of choice, some of the more outer regions may have just been a step too far after a working day.

One of these places was Todmorden, a lovely friendly town which I'd been to before for my letter "T" in my A-Z challenge, and returned to so I could tick off the last of the three pubs in the guide ....

511 - Masons Arms, Todmorden - this one was not as bad a walk from the train station as I'd expected and was in just after 12 noon.  It had won many awards in 2013 so expectations were high, and it was good, not amazing but good.  A decent range of 4 or 5 ales was to be found, I enjoyed a nice one by the local Worsthorne brewery which had disappointed me on my previous Tod visit.  I'd read the tables in the pub were once used for laying out dead bodies so potentially spooked, I went to sit outside.  Maybe a bit chilly but a nice little drinking area kept me there until I came in for a final half of Saltaire Chocoholic before my train.  By now a couple of extra people were in the pub and it was a bit more friendly.  Am sure the room I sat in had a haunted atmosphere but it could've just been the dead bodies tale playing on my mind.  Overall, a decent start.
Masons Arms, in the shadow of a railway viaduct.

512 - White Lion, Heptonstall - the day really heated up here, both metaphorically and literally as I 'alighted' the train at Hebden Bridge for the 0.8M walk to Heptonstall.  What my map didn't tell me was that it was all uphill, on a cobbled path aswell and I was dripping with sweat when I finally arrived at the pub.  The friendly bar staff immediately guessed I'd walked from Hebden Bridge as it must catch loads of people out, but again I sat outside against the pub wall, enjoying the sun and a brilliant ale, chatting to locals and admiring the pretty village (when traffic wasn't racing past).  Looking back, pub experience of the day.  The walk back down was more pleasant of course, I even stopped half way for a picnic and to hear how Hull City had failed to hang on against Stoke, typical!

White Lion, pub of the day and after that walk, just as well!

513 - Shoulder of Mutton, Mytholmroyd - Another very good pub, mercifully no more than 5 mins walk from this latest train station.  I'd contemplated a 2.5 mile walk south to a pub I need to tick off at Cragg Vale but the efforts of Heptonstall had rendered my legs next to useless!  Another good beer selection, fine quality (I had a Settle light, very light and a new brewery for me) and a nice traditional pub layout exactly the kind I'd expect from this part of the world.  The staff seemed very professional and always hardworking whilst a good jovial mix of locals watched the football on the TV, but I was happy to relax in the far corner.  I again briefly contemplated Cragg Vale but with a train leaving soon, I decided to hop on.

Shoulder of Mutton - a proper solid pub experience

514 - Shears Inn, Halifax - This pub tick was a real "monkey off my back", having tried to go twice before and got lost, I was determined this time.  There's a sign not far from Halifax station well before the Three Pigeons, but then maddeningly, not one again until you are almost there so thank the lord for my GBG App.     I even told the landlady I wasn't impressed with how hidden the pub was, she rightly didn't care, this had a lovely low ceilinged relaxed comfortable vibe, popular with the locals.  They were bemoaning how quiet it was, for me, it seemed the busiest pub I'd been in all day.  My beers wasn't great (I blame Moorhouses) but little touches like free cheese n biscuits, and the whole pub in uproar when xmas fave Winters Tale by Elaine Page randomly came on the jukebox made this a good experience.  Not better than Three Pigeons for me though.

The hard to find Shears Inn, Halifax.

So 4 new pub ticks, wouldn't have minded a 5th but wasn't really logistically possible on the day.  Felt like I need to keep something in Halifax in reserve for when I go to Bradshaw.  Probably not this week now so attentions turn to Saturday's impromptu trip to Birmingham (Harbourne) and then we're in September, the month of the new guide.... stay posted!


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

BRAPA - Bradford to a finish?

Yesterday evening saw my third and (hopefully) final trip to Bradford as the three reamining pubs were ticked off once and for all!

It was easily the best of the Bradford trips too, I mean the train was actually on time and not heaving and that rarity set the scene for one of those BRAPA experiences where everything runs smoothly.  Bradford City were away from home, no Palestinian demos in the square, pavements existed, Manningham was kept at a safe distance, so yes, all in all, it was everything you'd want from a West Yorkshire post-work session.

508 - Corn Dolly, Bradford - With hindsight, this was the best pub of the night and surely one of Bradford's finest as it combined comfortable pubbiness with a good range and quality of ales, something my later two pubs struggled with between them.......

Cosy interior at Corn Dolly
I noticed Timothy Taylor's Boltmaker had just won beer of the year, I'd made a mental note to try it next time I saw it, it was in here, so I overlooked several more interesting looking guests and thoroughly enjoyed this, more than ever before (power of positive thinking?)

509 - Sparrow, Bradford - I'd heard this little cafe (which actually had room downstairs I didn't realise until I went to the loo) was the last refuge for Bradford's trendier hipster set, although my experience found most of them were over 50 tapping away on their tablets with grey ponytails, healthy tans and a certain sense of self importance.  Having said that, I really enjoyed this in a 'North Bar' style way, friendly staff, had a joke with a group at the bar, had a really nice 5.4% ale made from New Zealand hops, and I'm sure a nice girl was looking at me .... perhaps.  She had walked in wearing sunglasses on a grey evening so possibly blind.  Good though, just lacked pubby warmth and comfort really.

510 - New Beehive, Bradford - Wow - well this place certainly left me with mixed feelings.  A glorious old heritage building, gas lighting (which wasn't in evidence), high ceilings, a grand old mural of a group of pub regulars from the olden days about to set off on a trip/holiday from this probably very unchanged pub.

Panoramic shot at New Beehive
Even the walk to the toilet was a wonderful maze like step back in time, the ladies loos very much an after thought squashed into a corner of the gents - superb!  The young barman was affable and responded well to my positivity. So what was wrong?  Well, only 2 beers on and they had many more handpumps available. The quality of my Spitting Feathers was questionable.  Tried to convince myself it was me but it had sulphury elements.  It was cold and too quiet.  I really hope I caught this pub on a bad day and it isn't in decline, it could be the best pub in Bradford, but I've said that in several historic York pubs that have got complacent over the years.
NZ Hops at the Sparrow Bier Cafe

Well, the new Good Beer Guide comes out 3 weeks today and a frenzy of cross-ticking and note making will be made by me - no one should be so excited about a new GBG, it isn't natural! Having consulted with some of my friends who understand BRAPA, I've decided to keep both a tally of the pubs in the soon to be current 2015 guide, and one that includes all those I have visited to date in any guide to date.  Phew!

This weekend, despite being a bank holiday, is very much "up in the air" due to several factors including 'midnight work testing on Sat eve', 'work Sunday trip to Ossett/Mirfield yet to be confirmed' and more.  It's very unlike me not to be planned and I am finding it tough! Woe is me.

Next midweek I'm now thinking Bradshaw as this is next in West Yorks in alphabetical order.  It would mean a bus from Halifax.  Sounds scary.  Can't wait!  See you all soon.  Si

Sunday, 17 August 2014

BRAPA - QPR away, two new pub ticks.

After a sustained, self enforced period off the booze, yesterday saw the dawning of a new football (well, Premier League) season and a return to the real ale.

QPR is one of those away days where you have to make the effort if you are going to find some good pre-match pubbing and with the help of Tom, I decided on Hanwell which involved a bit of tubing, training and walking.  And it would have been worth it if our train back to Ealing hadn't been cancelled!

London, as our 'fine' capital, should surely be better for real ale than it is.  Of the pubs that are in the guide, too many are Fullers or Young's tied, and the range on offer is often limited.

Having said that, Hanwell seemed a superb, well heeled area with a friendly community feel and a 15 minute walk from the train station found us at the first pub.

506 - Fox - 11am openers are always a good idea on a football day, they were setting up for an afternoon music festival when we arrived, in this multi-award winning local pub of the year.
Lovely pub interior at the Fox

The location and interior of the pub had a pleasing aspect, the staff seemed happy and friendly and we had a Hull City chat which is always errrm, interesting!  Alewise, it was all a bit underwhelming though though my expectations had been high.  Enjoyed my West Berkshire first world war ale Tommy Atkins in a Southern way, but the Sharp's Cornish Coaster (possibly more brewery than pub) was lame, Dad didn't enjoy his Tim Taylor landlord much, and my Eastern European 5% from Bingham's lacked a distinct zip.

507 - Viaduct - As a result of our limited beer options, we decided to give this Fullers (and therefore limited beer pub ironically) a chance which was fine with me because it was the other BRAPA tick for Hanwell.  Really enjoyed the strong Fullers ESB outside (it was amazingly warm enough) and probably just as well because a load of plastic Man Utd fans were watching their home embarrassment to Swansea in stony silence, thus rendering any pubbub non existent.  Seemed a nice pub in that typically dark polished wooden feel many Fullers pubs have.  It didn't have the range of guests that Parcel Yard and Mad Bishop & Bear (other Fullers pubs visited today) could manage.

Rare August outdoor drinking in Hanwell.
Post match, Queen's Head near St Pancras showed me once more how good London pubs can be and had me feverishly plotting a November BRAPA return to London, possibly for more Northern Line action as I did back in Feb.  Camden Town, Hampstead and Hendon all require attention.

For now though, attentions turn back towards a midweek return to Bradford to tick off the remaining trio. Still unsure what next weekend holds for me BRAPA-wise, for once my plans are up in the air! 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

BRAPA - Blackpool and two punk rock pub ticks

Whilst the past few days has been spent at the Rebellion Punk Festival in Blackpool, I always had half an eye on achieving the final three pub ticks required in one of the UK's scariest towns, and my overall result of two was a satisfactory conclusion.

Blackpool's the kind of place where you type in "Blackpool" and "Real Ale" into Google and achieve a googlewhack ... but that's unfair, the Pump & Truncheon has always been great (not sure if beer quality is what it was 5 years ago), Gillespies is a good new addition, the Rammy has heritage but never been convinced by it, Churchills is errm characterful, the Saddle gets good reviews though was poor on my visit 5 years ago, so what I'm trying to say is that at least options exist.

Rocking the Casbah at the Punk Fest.

One of these days, the Winter Gardens venue itself may provide ale of note (I have to think back to the Morecambe days when we did at least get some handpulled Tetley's).

At present, they've at least started selling bottles of Deuchers IPA, Flying Scotsmen and Brains Reverend James but at £4.20 a go, it makes me bitter enough to stay with the Murphy's for the time being.

So here's where I hadn't been before this weekend .....

504 - Layton Rakes, Blackpool - My 10th tick for the month was probably the 'find' of the festival.  A multi-levelled Wetherspoons with a roof terrace with a view of the Tower, and a quieter first floor room.  The theme celebrates Blackpool's circus history and an illuminated clown (Charlie Carioli - an adopted son) is the focal point of the pub on entry.  The beer was better and they changed frequently and the atmos was mostly good, no reason to go back to the Albert and the Lion 'Spoons next year - phew!

The girls having fun in Layton Rakes.
505 - Blackpool Cricket Club - Not as I expected, with quite a family orientated atmosphere but it was a light happier place rather than the dingy stereotype Northern club I had etched in my mind.  My pint of Beachcomber was as good quality as anything I had all weekend, and considering it was from the Fuller's stable, I was even more impressed.  I (inadvertently) told the barmaid I was a club member so £2.50 a pint was good too, I just had to cover up my punk wristband for the remainder of my time there.  It was raised in the pavilion area so had great views out onto the cricket pitch, imagine people come here on cricket days and just sit in here.  It was a mile out of town though so not easy to return to for future festivals.

So all that leaves is one more Wetherspoons in Blackpool (Auctioneer) to tick off but of course, the guide will have changed by next year.  Less than a month now to be precise!  Not so much having a BRAPA break now as a total detox from beer and shit food, but you know me, I'll be in touch with more pub ticks soon as I get back on the West Yorkshire trail.  QPR first on Saturday though.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

BRAPA - Appletreewick, Addingham, Silsden and Ilkley.

Last Saturday was my third BRAPA day in four, and my last in two weeks after totally burning the candle at both ends, and killing my liver too in the process.  After the hardcore Bronte country walking of Friday, my legs couldn't take much more as I awoke on Saturday.  Thankfully, it turned out to be one of those very good smooth n easy BRAPA excursions.

A train to Leeds, and a change to Ilkley found my outside the bus station at 10am waiting for the 74 bound for the Dales.  I recognised a guy a vaguely knew from work and after a chat, found out they too were heading for Appletreewick on a pub crawl where you have to go around Wharfedale and drink a Wharfedale beer in each pub and get this leaflet stamped.  My kinda thing if I wasn't BRAPPING!

One of the more unique pub signs I've seen on my travels

499 - Craven Arms, Appletreewick - After a 10 minute delay in drizzly rain and quick walk around this small but beautiful Dales village, they soon let me and the Alex gang in and they headed straight for the Wharfedale pumps.  The York Beer Monster tells me it is one of his all time favourite pubs.  Great range of ales saw me try a local Hetton Pale which was decent.  I sat with Alex and his friends, a like minded bunch of pub geeks and my BRAPA story is always a great icebreaker - I was soon almost one of them.  The pub dates back to 1548 and had a fantastic feel, great staff, I can't speak highly enough of it.  Always annoying though when your first pub is pub of the day!

500 - New Inn, Appletreewick - So, a landmark 500th pub had arrived and with the Alex gang totally living the BRAPA dream, I was given a guard of honour and round of applause as I entered the pub as the clock chimed for 12 noon opening time. The landlady didn't know what to think.  One of the lads even bought my drink, a superb Goose Eye Chinook as I made up for not having a Goose Eye yesteday, in Goose Eye!
Poised to enter my 500th Good Beer Guide Pub in the lovely Appletreewick
Like something from Shaun of the Dead, a load of campers then ascended from the valley near the River Wharfe and swarmed to the bar like a load of ale thirsty zombies.  We all sat in the outside beer 'garden' across the road from the pub, the sun came out, this was almost perfect BRAPA action despite the lack of phone signal to do my check ins!

As the campers dispersed, I bid farewell to the Alex gang who were heading down towards the river for some serious walking in their quest for Wharefedale ales, the heavens opened and suddenly I was on my own, waiting for bus back towards Ilkley and thank god it turned up else I was stranded.

501 - Swan, Addingham - I jumped off the bus early at Addingham, a few miles west of Ilkley.  Thankfully, the heavy rain stopped and it was warm and sunny again, adding to the feeling that this was a lucky day for me.  
Amazing mild in Addingham's Swan
After walking past the intriguing looking Fleece (still with bloody yellow bicycle outside, grrr the Tour finished a month ago, get over it!!) I walked into this unassuming looking pub to be greeted by a very friendly and helpful barman who served me a gorgeous Ilkley Black which for a mild, was exceptional. 

Some South African tourists came in for lunch, and I was tempted by the soup and sandwich offer but I had my own food so tried not to waste any more money in the name of BRAPA.

It was time to move on anyway, and catch a different bus to the small town of Silsden, as in the train station 'Steeton and Silsden', and my bus took me pretty much directly to the front door.

502 - Kings Arms, Silsden - Pub 4 of the day was a very different experience, very much more like a town local full of old West Yorkshire men than the other pubs I'd been in.  It had a happy community feel and two things stood out.  Sexy barmaids plus many beers from the Abbeydale / Doctor Morton's stable of Sheffield - so with these two things combined, I was as happy as your proverbial pig in shit.  They did have a Tour De France stain glass type painted mural in the window opposite me, just to keep me partially discontented! 

503 - Crescent, Ilkley - After another bus, this time back into Ilkley (having almost accidentally gone to 
Marie Jaune, pint of the day contender.
Keighley by mistake, as if yesterday hadn't been enough!), I was in the Crescent - a corner pub in centre.  Beer wise, it was fantastic and I had a Marie Jaune from Ikley brewery (French name, surprise surprise!) and this was probably pint of the day. I had a bit of a problem with the 'pub' though in that it was quite clearly tied to a next door posh looking restaurant which it shared loos with, where I enjoyed an incredibly high class piss.  It consequently had an overly manicured atmosphere and general feel but then I've always felt Ilkley was one of the more well to do areas of West Yorkshire, if that's saying anything!  Nice though, can't knock it too much.

So overall, a really nice feeling easy BRAPA day after Friday's exertions and Wednesday's traumatic evening session!  Good to be back on track but will now take stock before getting back on the midweek trail in 2 weeks time with my final (I hope) trip to Bradford.  Si

Friday, 1 August 2014

BRAPA - Yorkshire Day

A Friday off work which was actually also Yorkshire Day??  It was crying out for some pub ticks in rural West Yorkshire and I don't really need that much persuading as you know by now!

The lesson learnt today was "managing expectations".  I'd read so many amazing ghostly and historical stories about the Old Silent Inn, and thus, conjured up all these amazing images in my mind, it stood to reason I could only be disappointed.  This was tempered by the Brown Cow in Keighley, a spur of the moment decision to go so no preconceptions in my mind .... it was superb and easily my pub of the day.  Funny how things turn out.

A typically grey Yorkshire morning brightened briefly as I arrived at Keighley (I'm a poet and I know it), changing onto the delayed steam train bound for Oxenhope, full of  families with over-enthusiastic kids.  I 'alighted' (as they say) at Haworth and took the grueling uphill walk through the pretty village past the already ticked off Fleece Inn, and a couple of miles down the road to Stanbury.

Pretty but touristy Haworth, view down the main street on a previous visit

495 - Friendly, Stanbury - Similar to my midweek experience, the pavements were non existent but at least today, the traffic was slower and less frequent, the roads wider and the scenery superb above Bronte country as I walked to the village supposedly the home of Wuthering Heights farmhouse.  The pub was exactly what it said on this tin, friendly.  Local, very local, but friendly and no-frills which i always respect.  Had a gorgeous Rat beer from Huddersfield though landlady seemed to have problems with the barrel, most locals drank the goose eye anyway.  Felt very much like the visitor I was, luckily my rucksack would've just made everyone think I was another walking tourist!

The walk to Stanbury - note the lack of pavement yet again!

496 - Old Silent Inn, Stanbury - I'd heard cracking tales of a ghostly ex-landlady who fed the cats that foraged up on the moors, she rang a bell to let them know she'd put food down for them and it can still be heard today.  I also heard two historic tales of why it was called the 'Silent'.  One cos the locals covered up a murder, one because they were loyal to Bonnie Prince Charlie and didn't let anyone know he was staying!  No one knows which is the real reason the pub has this name.  The location was wonderfully bleak, but it screamed 'gastropub' as soon as I entered.  A good barman asked if I was a walker, I let him believe that, the ale was great (a local Goose Eye brewed for the pub), but the piped music, tourists and diners meant any ghostly historical edge was somewhat lost in the mists of time.  Sad but the pub obviously knows it's reputation and needs to play on it to get the punters in.

Lovely pint of the local brew, though the pub was more gastro than ghostly.

497 - Turkey Inn, Goose Eye - A punishing walk above more beautiful Bronte countryside where I heard birds of prey screeching up above (the Old Silent was originally called the Eagle for this reason) saw me eventually, with the rain now teeming down, reach this wonderful pub by a stream in a little hamlet called Goose Eye, home of course to a famous local microbrewery.  Somewhat ungraciously, I chose a beer by Hop Back in Wiltshire!  Circumstances undid me here as I tried to find a quiet corner in the pub (there were plenty) where I could smuggle my pasty as I hadn't eaten all day.  Unfortunately, I chose the one area where the staff were doing all their work and stock taking, and it was right by the kitchen - bad move.  I still enjoyed my pint immensely but appreciate how much better this pub could have been in different circumstances - it was long and thin with many rooms, each with a fire, a suit of armour in the corner, it felt like it could be a very good pub indeed.

Goose Eye's finest, could've been even more spectacular

498 - Brown Cow, Keighley - Another punishing walk eventually took me back into Keighley and totally knackered from my walking, I decided my Cross Hills bus plan was a journey too far so went to the most outer Keighley pub, which I was walking past anyway.  And what a cracker.  A fantastic community feel, friendly staff and locals, great beer range and quality, and a nice layout - not exactly separate rooms but you felt you could get away from the bar area if you wanted.  My Fernandes IPA was as good as anything I drank all day and for all those people who take the lazy option when in Keighley and go to the Boltmakers, I'd say the 5-10 minute extra walk to here is totally worth it.

A pub that's so good, it even has it's own glasses.

I must have walked at least 5 miles today, would be interesting to know but I never will.  And we're back on the BRAPA trail tomorrow as of course, it is a Saturday where I have nowt better to do!  Will hope there's less walking involved as my legs have given up on me now!  

See you later this weekend for the next update.