A straightforward train journey and connecting bus had me arriving into the quite picturesque village of Brompton just after 12 noon, though I soon realised the pub was outside the village on the main A684 and I had to walk uphill along Lead Lane, in icy sludge, no pavement with traffic racing past at high speeds. Not quite the gentle introduction I'd been hoping for!
571 - GREEN TREE, Brompton - I was the first customer of the day as I entered this one roomed, traditional style pub and was soon engaged in conversation with the friendly young barmaid who commutes from Harrogate to work here. Despite not expecting her to get the whole BRAPA concept, she was very interested and like Lincoln lady last week, thought I should look for sponsorship. There was a roaring log fire which she was doing her best to maintain, and if this winter has taught me anything, it's how much a real fire brings to a pub. Only three ales on, Gundog Bitter from the local Wall's brewery was the only micro, but it was very good quality. A local Guinness drinker came in and we stood at the bar, chatting and he revealed the landlord used to be on the Darlington FC board in those George Reynolds days, and was currently watching a top of the table Evostick clash away at Salford, with the promise of free pints for all people in tonight if they won. Some local lads came in, seemingly to just smoke outside and drink lager. I was talked out of going to Danby Wiske next, because Osmotherley made more sense. Local knowledge has to be respected, so I took the advice.
|Main road pub action in Brompton, nr Northallerton|
Had I known I was going to "Os" first, I'd have got a bus but with taxi already called (Danby Wiske has no public transport service), I was committed frustratingly as I spent a fortune on taxi's today. The experience on Lead Lane meant walking in these conditions seemed fraught with danger, treacherously slippy.
572 - GOLDEN LION, Osmotherley - And it was only when we arrived into the impressive three pub village of Osmotherley that I realised they'd had a lot more snow up here than in my more southern part of North Yorkshire. It was clear from the outset that this was a serious diners pub with a seriously good reputation for food (it smelt very good), lots of staff wearing white wondering where they'd seat this stranger. Fear not, I was only drinking so joined a friendly local man at the bar, we really were the only two non-diners here but at least the staff were welcoming, and unusually, the ales were all microbreweries and in perfect condition. My Truefitt Stout from a brewery in Middlesbrough was superb, and I'd call it "pint of the day". I got on well with the chap at the bar, and the young barmen chipped in as I talked BRAPA again and hoped I was not boring them! It was a warmer more loungey style pub, but it worked, and I was invited to the beer festival next November.
|Low key pub sign on my arrival into snowy Osmotherley|
573 - WHITE SWAN, Danby Wiske - You don't get much more of a village local than this, it was shutting at 3pm so I had an hour to drink. I was met by the landlord, coming in carrying wood for the excellent and much needed wood burner in his wellies and hat. It was very Fast Show as he reminded me of Ralph from Ted and Ralph, whilst the near mute barman was like a big hairy 'Ted' with glassy eyes and a stoic manner. I sat at the bar again and chatted the landlord, who gave me taxi numbers, explained his role in local CAMRA covering 50 miles of pubs but only allowed to put 14 or something in the guide, which seems harsh. He also told me about the local sword dancers but bemoaned the pubs constant lack of customers, it's only in summer when coast-to-coast walkers come here for a pit-stop that it gets busy. The pub istelf felt a bit like a traditional Dales pub, with shelves above the bar selling the kind of stuff more reminiscent of a village shop than a pub. To prove just how local this pub was, 'Ralph' offered to bring me and Ted a sandwich as his wife was making his lunch, presumably in an adjoining house. I tried both Wall's guest beers and was quite impressed again, with the golden one and the Northalleton Dark. I felt quite passionate about this pub by the time I left, hoping it gets the custom it deserves. In a rare chatty moment, 'Ted' said he felt "the pub (in general) had had it's day" in these modern times, I hope he is wrong.
|Inside wood-burner view at the White Swan, Danby Wiske|
It was 17:20 so I rang for a taxi yet again as like Danby Wiske, Borrowby has no bus service and a 5 mile drunken walk in sleet in the dark didn't seem wise.
574 - WHEATSHEAF INN, Borrowby - What first hit me when I arrived probably about 20 minutes after it's opening time was how busy it was, full of jolly locals starting their Saturday night early. Seriously, I was soon drawn into thinking it was 8pm. The pub had a lovely tudor-style feel with low beams, creaky floorboards, corridors, low ceiling - it is 17th century actually and perfect for a winter's evening as the atmosphere was superb, though sitting at the bar for a record fourth time today was getting bit wearing, especially as everyone was in couples or groups so I couldn't chat to locals as much as before. I went for the perfect session beer to wash away that Black Jesus, Durham Magus and though it was last of the barrel, tasted great as always, The locals were excited to see the replacement ale go on straight away, a Wensleydale Semer Water which caused much discussion which seemed a bit OTT to me (I drank this in Hawes back in September). Mobile reception was predictably up and down, so I had an explore of the pub, inside and out as I rang for my final (slightly tardy) taxi of the day.
|How long had it been open? Busy early evening at Wheatsheaf.|
In the cold light of day, I'd been glad to tick off 4 quite tricky to get to places though with hindsight, I should have saved such a day trip for better weather, where I may have attempted a bit more walking (from Danby Wiske back into Northallerton for example) as I spent a fortune on taxi fares. Never mind, all in the name of a good interesting sociable local BRAPA day out which just wouldn't have been the same had I had company of my own!
UPCOMING BRAPA DATES
February looks like being a struggle for new pub ticks. My sister's pot doesn't come off til 24th, so (with Bertie in mind) midweek WY BRAPA trips are postponed until at least then. In addition, only four Saturday's mean options are limited. Stoke on 28th is a write off as I'm settling just for a one pub White Star experience. Manchester on 7th offers more scope, but can it reach full BRAPA day levels? 14th is the Selby day though like this trip, even getting four pubs in is a struggle. 21st holds the key, I'm looking at a less-rural North East trip as I don't trust the weather enough the allow my next North Yorkshire Trip to be an unequivocal success (the Dales again, due to Carlton in Coverdale being next alphabetically).
Still, I'm willing to just go for my 12-15 average number of pub ticks as January was such a success. 28 new ones was a good achievement without the midweek WY ticks. Best of the month? It's between Old Tom's in London, Strugglers in Lincoln and Bath Hotel in Sheffield.
Meanwhile, from March onwards, I will be cracking on with the county of Bedfordshire, home of the first official BRAPA day with one trip per month. I already am booked for an outer-Biggleswade day in March and an outer-Bedford day in April, and when tickets become available, May might see a trip to Dunstable. Aim is that by December, I'll be somewhere near completing Beds in full. I know I can't avoid Luton forever!