Wednesday 22 April 2015

BRAPA - North of Halifax

West Yorkshire midweek BRAPA trips celebrated their first anniversary with a difficult two pub session in villages to the north of Halifax, though technically listed under Halifax in the GBG.  And whilst we are on the landmarks, this is my 100th blog entry.  Pull those Party Poppers.

Had I started WY midweeks with last night's excursion, I'd have probably been too mentally scarred to carry on with the after-work challenge.  A year today, in fact, the Grove & Midnight Bell in Holbeck seemed a whole lot easier.

After a straightforward train to Halifax, I jumped in the nearest taxi (the bus times were all out of sync) and soon I was in the rural little village of Bradshaw.

Arriving at the Golden Fleece on a fine spring evening.

628 - Golden Fleece, Bradshaw - I'd pictured in my mind's eye the best and worst case scenario here, and I was amazed to see how close to 'best case scenario' this pub really was.  A bustling local throng stood around the bar (in fact, not being able to get to it was as bad as it got!), a great range of ales, some from the Revolutions brewery whose ales are music themed, and one I had, Cleopatra (comin' atcha!) that was accidentally so - all peach and cigarette overtones.  £2 a pint!   I took advantage of the fine spring evening to sit in the excellent beer garden, with views overlooking local countryside, hills, I could even see some grazing horses in the distance.  It was idyllic, a utopian scene, but life doesn't allow things to be perfect for long. I was soon put on edge by a young guy who kept talking angrily to himself - he was a cross between serial murder man Ian Brady and the young priest in Father Ted who gets Dougal into smoking, ear piercings etc.  He lay on a bench, I tried not to make eye contact.  Everyone else was jolly and local, enjoying the sunshine and with my bus still a way off, what could I do but order another pint - this time Revolutions 'House of Fun', a milk stout and a good one at that!  Bus handily arrived just across the road, and I was on my way to Swalesmoor.

Idyllic outdoor drinking at the Golden Fleece.
Having done my research, I thought I was a real clever clogs getting off the bus in Ovenden leaving me a not too bad 0.7 mile walk to the next pub.  What the map didn't tell me, it was all uphill and quite back-breaking!  The bus I got was a Yorkshire Tiger, I just hoped the evil Dr Allam didn't own the company or I may have demanded a refund of my £1.70.

Seats made out of real Tiger skin on the 528 bus to Ovenden.

629 - Sportsman Inn, Swalesmoor - When they said 'Sportsman',  I was thinking perhaps Rugby League, Cricket or even Football for this area, so when it turned out to be skiing, it was quite a surprise.  A dry ski slope overlooking a pub garden isn't something you see every day.  In fact, it made the whole area feel like a European tourist resort.  But this was north Halifax and a kindly gent who was sweeping up leaves  showed me the way in, told me the barman was called Jake, and I should use his name to freak him out.  Well, I did and it worked on the characterful, quirky, bearded young barman - in fact, when I revealed I'd been told his name "by a guy sweeping up", the locals looked at each other as if to say "oh no, not the sweeping ghost of Swalesmoor again!" and now I was scared, until Jake went outside to satisfy his curiosity and revealed the sweeper was 'the boss of the whole complex'!  To keep my 'music' themed beers going, I had a "making your mind up" by Salamander which was almost as good as the previous two.  It was getting chilly now so I sat inside, they even had a fire burning and it seemed like a very nice rural style old fashioned pub.  This was spoiled somewhat as a L**ds fan and a N*wcastle fan (with his girlfriend) swarmed round my table and we settled down to watch Barca v PSG in the Chumps League.  It was a decent experience apart from the hero worship of Barca's skills and style of football so I was quite happy when the time came to leg it back down the hill for the bus back to 'Fax.

Dry ski slope outside pub in the middle of nowhere, unique! 
As it turned out, I was soon back at Halifax Station on foot having gone at such a pace, I almost stayed ahead of all the busses.  I got back just in time for a train to L**ds, but a farce ensued.  First I was stuck outside L**ds station for ages "waiting for a platform to become available", missed one connection, the next train was cancelled, the next advised people to get off and catch another, and this was delayed by 7 mins!  So by the time I got in with my Burger King, it was 11pm!  

A frustrating end to an otherwise excellent night of BRAPA.  



  1. The young priest was Father Damian. Did he actually get Dougal to smoke, I can't remember?

    Which train from Halifax was it? It sounds like a good stonking delay, let me know and keep your tickets until I get back to you.

  2. Hi Tom, Father Damian of course! Classic episode. I will rewatch it as I'm not sure if Dougal ever smoked. The delay was a good 30-45 minutes I'm sure, not sure where the tickets have gone (bin?) but will try and locate them. Si

  3. Which train off Halifax was it? I can easily look up the delay from that.

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