Sunday 2 November 2014

BRAPA - The Lancashire Crossover

It is that time of year when the veil between life and death is at it's thinnest, and it therefore seemed fitting that I should do my own 'crossing over', but only into Lancashire for two pubs.  My foot was feeling better after my sister had cast a healing spell as part of her Samhain ritual on Friday, so I was raring to go.

After a rickety Leeds-Morecambe two carriage train to Wennington and a typically precarious mile walk (predictable lack of pavement), I arrived in the small village of Wray in the Bowland Forest area of Lancs.

Arriving in Wray on a mild November morning
488 - GEORGE & DRAGON, Wray - "Underwhelming" would probably be the word I'd use to sum up this pub experience, but it was not without it's positives.  Sue, the landlady, was one of those friendly but non-extrovert types (a bit like if my Mum ran a pub!) and had a good relationship with all the regulars (i.e. everyone else in the pub).  I later learned the food was top quality as an old couple tucked into a huge portion of fish & chips.  An old man who'd been given doctors orders to drink more interpreted this as Crabbies rather than ale (water may have been a better bet),  The pub had two areas, I sat in the larger room and it had that country pub feel.  Apparently it hosts a famous scarecrow festival in May.  The beer range was quite poor, I had a Lancaster Blonde which was it's usual unremarkable self.  There was no one around to say 'bye' to when I left, which for some reason, I always feel sad about!

George & Dragon - was okay, very okay.

489 - BRIDGE INN, Wennington -  About three quarters of the way back to the train station was this little gem in the heart of the Bowland Forest area.  It features in a Turner painting, which should impress my Dad as he recently went to a Turner exhibition, and I could see why any artist would want to paint this and the surrounding area, very picturesque.  First impressions weren't great as this very small pub was full of diners, and the most exciting beer was York Guzzler which isn't the beer it was 5 years ago.  The landlady was very friendly and after deciding there was no free seats for a drinker like me, pointed me to an outdoor area.  I joked about how I never thought I'd be asking for the beer garden in November but it was a really mild day, and all that walking had warmed me up!  What she didn't tell me was the covered outdoor area was also full, a group of 8 walkers, mainly cockney Arsenal fans but a couple from Wray who support Man Utd and Wigan (it takes all sorts!)
They invited me to sit with them and soon I was regaling them with tales of my BRAPA challenge, a subject which captures most people's imaginations (well, if they like pubs and ale and travelling!) It was a great half hour chat before they left for their next walking segment, and as I sat alone outside, I reflected it's times like that which really make BRAPA worthwhile.  Pub experience of the day.

Bridge in Wennington - a top pub experience
490 - HORSE AND FARRIER, Bentham - This pub was the crux of the day, in that Bentham came next alphabetically in my North Yorkshire section (if we temporarily ignore bloody Beck Hole, which we will until spring).  To say this pub had gone to town on Hallowe'en decorations would actually be an understatement, the place was festooned with them from the hologram behind my seat, to the blow up ghost, to the skeleton on the bog print on the urinal door!  I usually dislike the presence of kids in pubs, but as this pub looked like a haunted museum, I couldn't begrudge them running around in an excited fashion!  The landlady was friendly, and I was served a spooky beer in Thwaites' Handsome Devil, which a local tried to ward me off, as he wanted it all for himself.  It was the best Thwaites' beer I have had in years.  Decor aside, this was a lovely old 17th century pubs with beams and low ceilings, very cosy and even has an antique fireplace which wasn't needed today.  The landlady came round with a cauldron full of sweets so I took a jelly monster and went on my way.

Horse and Farrier - Hallowe'en-tastic decor

With no trains or busses to Giggleswick or Settle for 3 hours, it was taxi time being 10 miles away - my foot was sore again anyway after the traumatic Wray-Wennington walk earlier.  My taxi driver was a local chap who quickly explained his deafness which made for an entertaining journey.  He is not quite deaf enough to qualify for a cochlea implant, but he would if he lived in France or Germany.  Maybe this explained why he charged me £20 for the journey - extortionate, I hope he gets his operation soon! 

491 - HART'S HEAD HOTEL, Giggleswick - A much larger pub than the others today, it was mainly open-plan but had a pool table where an annoying boy was playing with his Dad, who just wanted to watch the rugby.  Some jolly locals chatted amiably with the barmaid, one old chap was getting rather frustrated that the Tetley's barrel hadn't been changed yet.  Not sure why as here I found the best beer range so far, had a nice Kirkby Lonsdale ale and before I knew it, time had raced by and I knew getting to the Talbot in Settle and then back for the train would be a push, especially on a bad foot, so I cut my losses, ordered a gorgeous Reaper by Black Sheep and watched the scores come through on Sky Sports News in the hope Hull City would equalise,  Predictably, they didn't.  Giggleswick station was further than I thought so a race against time, I just about won but then a woman told me "cows on the line" had delayed it by 10 mins anyway (she knew cos her hubbie had got on at Bentham).

Hart's Head, Giggleswick - don't mention the Tetley's!

I was soon back for a couple in York Tap where I saw Untappd friend Mark T. at the bar and joined him.  He complained he'd had all 20 beers on, but it was heaven for me after the majority of my beer range choices today.  Shame I didn't reach the Settle pub (twice I've missed out on that now) but with a good month in the offing, I'm relaxed about it and I've got plenty more pressing pub ticks before that one.  

Attentions turn to Tuesday evening's West Yorks trip - yet another return to Bradford (the city I an never finish!) where I have one new central pub, one a mile outside in Great Horton, so may try and get a village to the west of it too like Denholme or Thornton.  I'll keep you posted.


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