Sunday, 28 June 2015

BRAPA - The Woollen Triangle Tour (from Dewsbury to Wakefield)

A fantastic six pub summer's outing with Jason & Richard from work means that I am now closing in on the completion of West Yorkshire's GBG pubs.

A broken down train on the York-Leeds line meant it was an achievement to be in Dewsbury's magnificent West Riding Refreshment Rooms before the 12 noon starting point, a pint of lavender flavoured beer was not the best opening choice, far too flowery.  A short taxi ride followed and we were soon at our first 'tick' of the day.

676 - Savile Arms, Thornhill -  And what a little cracker it was.  It had that fantastic old pub smell that you can't replicate in any other surroundings, a lovely low beamed ceiling and traditional decor.  It may have been Marston's tied as Boondoggle and Hobgoblin were about the only ales on, but we could really picture drinking in here in front of the fire on a dark, windswept November night.  As it was, a potentially summer's day (we've been starved of them this year) meant we sat outside despite an ominous dark cloud on benches at the front of the pub.  A local woman was asking the landlord if he could keep the beer a bit less well to stop her husband drinking so much, he told her in no uncertain terms that beer quality was everything.  It was a bit like being in a CAMRA advert!  The landlord further increased his stock by bringing us all out a piece of warm pork pie. Delicious.  A man with a ladder was then seen running down the street in the direction of the pub - but he claimed he was the window cleaner and not a burglar.  Our taxi had arrived, it was time to move on.

Rich & Jason arriving at the lovely Savile Arms

677 - Boons Horbury - Horbury seemed a nice little place, a market town feel but probably not big enough to be classed a town.  The name 'Boons' made me realise this was a 'Clark's of Wakefield' pub, but I was pleased to see quite a strong range of other ales - not that I hate Clark's, just not my favourite.  Being the 'real ale aficionado', Richard made me choose for all of us - I joked about the burden this put on me, and whilst the young ginger barmaid threatened to be friendly, she never quite was engaging enough.  The bar was circular and the toilets and garden were very well hidden - we sat by the big front windows whilst Jason's first smoking session of the day (he's NOT an angry man, just exasperated by Richard!) wafted in through the window.  Although this felt like a more modern pub, it did at least feel like a 'pub' and there was a good mix of people, young n old, men and women.

Me about to sample the delights of Boons
678 - Cricketers Arms, Horbury - A short walk to the Cluntergate part of Horbury found this big square pub dominating the horizon.  I could immediately tell we were in a great place, bare boarded bar area, friendly staff and the sun streaming in, smiling customers, you just sometimes get a fantastic first impression.  However, the sun was beckoning us and we sat in the 'outdoor area' (I can't bring myself to call it a beer garden) reminiscent of the Boltmakers in Keighley.  There was a fantastic range of ales, probably best best of the day and because they don't always do cask, it was great to see a Summer Wine ale called Wingman which slipped down far too well as my neck started to go it's usually angry red colour.  Jason contemplated drinking part of our drink indoors so I could review the pub more accurately for my blog, which was nice of him, but I was happy as we were.  We then discussed next year's outing, possibly an Oldham based Lancs day.

Richard looks excitable as we approach the Cricketers.  
679 - Old Vic, Ossett - Another short taxi ride took us into Ossett, home of course to the famous real ale brewery so it seemed only right that this first pub was tied to it and we all went for the 'Yorkshire Blonde', one of their more standard pales but top quality.  Again, a good friendly atmosphere and quite bustling and busy, it has only recently been 'done up' and bit like Great Kelk last week, you felt they were working really hard to make this a great experience for the customers.  We again sat out on benches and again, you couldn't call it a garden but we were lucky how many of today's pubs did at least have beer gardens.  That's the good thing of getting out of the city.  The barmaid then helped us work out that our next pub, despite being a mile out of town, was walkable.

Video of Jason's socks outside the Old Vic - as Richard was on the wrong setting
680 - Brewers Pride, Ossett - Despite Rich's constant moaning "are we nearly there yet?", it was worth the effort as this pub, hidden away behind an industrial estate in what was probably once a busy area but now has almost been flattened.  I'd probably call this pub of the day, we entered to find a great range of guests in a traditional corner bar and though I chose us all an Elland beer, Richard decided he was getting braver and he'd make his own choice!  Jason showed his age by telling the staff he remembered coming when it was just a tiny one roomed pub, it had since been extended in about 1785.   We found a great 'outdoor area' full of happy drinkers and walkers, just the one table left for us and a big blue corrugated shed was dominating the skyline, we were advised that Bob's White Lion (an gorgeous ale I've seen in plenty of Wakefield area pubs) was brewed in it - Jason, not wanting to be rude, went in and got us all a pint of it!  We got chatting to the tables near us, I was soon explaining BRAPA and handing out cards for my blog - and I got some good travel and pub info for Wintersett,  my trickiest remaining West Yorks 'tick'.  We had made such good time, we decided we could squeeze in another one - we debated Mirfield, even Wintersett, but settled on Overton which my GBG App said was 1.9 miles away though everyone in the pub said about 6 miles, and that it wasn't very good!  This made me more determined.....

Me and Rich celebrating some great pub action in Ossett
Our taxi drivers had been fantastic all day, it helped that Richard went to school with one so am sure we got a discount there!  Problem is, being mainly Asian Muslim, they are often non-drinkers and not too familiar with pubs as landmarks like say, I would be.  This was also a problem when I was tooling around Bradford last autumn, and here, the lad got very lost in the way to this pub,  At one point, we turned around in a driveway, were scowled at from an upstairs window by a woman (I waved) and her angry ginger son came out to tell off our poor taxi driver.  

681 - Reindeer, Overton - This was our most rural pub of the day as you can probably imagine, but only a slight hint of 'American Werewolf in London' as us three entered and deliberated over plenty of ales from the Cap House brewery, a new one on me but good quality West Yorks fayre nontheless.  It was like the day had come full circle, as grey clouds were circling as we took our pints outside through a conservatory, and hey presto, a proper beer garden with grass, overlooking beautiful scenery and errm, the coal mining museum.  I was a bit worse for wear by this stage so my memories are a bit hazy but if I hadn't had company, I'd probably have been falling asleep in this peaceful setting.  Can't see why this pub had been so criticised in the last place, though I may not have been at my most discerning, I'd still recommend it to anyone reading.  

Can you tell we were quite a few pints in by this stage?

After a final (unwise) drink back at the WRRR, I (finally) got my train - delays and standing on the wrong platform didn't help, got a MaccyD's in Leeds and was back in York for a bit of food shopping and a nap before the England Women's World Cup win (congrats ladies!), 3am when I finally got to bed having caught up on my Twitter, Instgram and Untappd check-ins being a social media whore.  

Coming Soon .....

There's nothing like striking while the iron is hot, so Tuesday sees our final trip of June, a train ride to Hebden Bridge for my final 'tick' there with Mirfield/Sowerby Bridge potential but I'll probably not do both.  However, 20 pubs for the month so far was less than I was hoping for June so I'll have to see if this influences me.  

And then we move in to July .... a great month in prospect with more social BRAPA outings - more on this when I review Tuesday's West Yorks night.

Happy pubbing,  Si


  1. Usual request for details of the delayed trains please, I assume the morning one at least you can remember. A failed train between York and L**ds should just mean subsequent trains lose a few minutes by being diverted via Cas Vegas, with perhaps a few cancelled (in reality tagged onto the one infront/behind) to save on paths. I bet the MDTR failed miserably to cope in that manner though.

    Was there any wool mill history education provided, or did you see the same lack of evidence as I did of Staffordshire coal mining?

  2. Haha, yes thanks Tom - it was I think the 10:53(?) in the morning - I had to change at Leeds so was just the York-Leeds one. No idea on the one back, must have been around 7pm.
    I saw a total lack of evidence of wool mill history but I claimed I could "feel it woven into the atmosphere" How was Staffs?

    On another note, re Charlton day, The Royal Standard at Blackheath has been 'deleted' from the GBG due to change of ownership. Not sure whether I should no longer consider it as well.


  3. Si,
    Assuming you actually ended up on the Hull-Manchester, I make it you were only 11 late at Dewsbury so no chance on that one I'm afraid.

    Staffordshire was boilerplate whip in the winning locos as booked, no sign of coal mining in the landscape, pretty lakes. All very sedate.

    I think there is a lot to go at for Charlton. Unless another out of the box option comes to light, I reckon Hare & Billet should become the 11:00 move. We could either then stick to list a, or some further research may reveal it is possible to get across to set b. It is one to look into.

  4. As I said yesterday, I would suggest the 'Spoons at Rotherhithe for the early doors opener. Boris Overground, which is BR not Underground as per the GBG Surrey Quays (or whatever the nearest shack is) to New X, 3 shacks down to Blackheath, into Hare and Billet. Simple, job done.