Wednesday 3 June 2015

BRAPA - Cragg Vale

Picturesque walking from Mytholmroyd to Cragg Vale
Despite this year's Good Beer Guide (GBG) listing Cragg Vale under 'Hebden Bridge', (last year, it was a place in it's own right!), the nearest railway station is Mytholmroyd so after a few signalling problems, I was finally on my way.  Interestingly (for the train geeks amongst you), they made up the time by not stopping at 3 stations between Rochdale and Manc Victoria, which angered a girl, who then declared she was getting off at Sowerby Bridge anyway!

For me, a 2 mile walk from Mytholmroyd followed through lush green woodland, along streams, but with a pavement all the way, this was a pleasant rural BRAPA walk for once!  My cycling friend Mark Bennett told me this was the longest continuous ascent in the UK, but thankfully, I hadn't realised before that the gradient was about 0.1% all the way so not too cream-crackered either!

And then the fun started.  I thought I'd seen my first pub -  and what a peculiar building it was, so I started snapping away for this blog and my social media check-ins.  A few huge raindrops followed but who cares when I was just outside the pub?  Except I wasn't.  It was a sign on the building directing me down the hill to the ACTUAL pub!  The heavens opened and I was drenched by the time I'd walked down the hill, past the church, to the pub - arrrghhh!

NOT the first pub - beware dark rain clouds.
662 - Hinchcliffe Arms, Cragg Vale - Oh well, at least my drenched state allowed me to make an impression on landlord and landlady when I arrived dripping at the bar and told my story, to relative amusement.  I ordered an MPA (Manchester Pale Ale) which I believed was Marble but was actually John Willie Lees, who own the pub.  I'd heard about rare guest ales from outside Yorks, but from what I could make out, all four ales on were JW Lees.  Never mind, the Macc Lads were wrong when they said "Willie's tastes like piss", it's far better than Boddies and after initial shandy overtones, it developed into a refreshing golden ale - as if I needed ANY MORE refreshing!  I sat in the upholstered area in front of the bar where one southern man was paying for food.  He looked glum and stoic until his two horrid kids returned (the eldest was called Hugo, enough said) and he was transformed into an annoying babbling man-baby.  Landlord and landlady saw me rolling my eyes and chuckled sympathetically.  It didn't seem to be a lucky pub for me!  Luckily, man-baby's wife returned to escort them all off the premises and calmness ensued, though plenty of kitchen staff kept buzzing about, this was quite a loungey foody tourist trap despite the JW Lees.  The rain was teeming down and my peace was now shattered by nine female hikers, who whined about their muddy boots before trying to sit near me, but landlady thankfully shoehorned them to the back room.  I was just about to order half a "Coronation St" when I saw a gap in the rain, and took my chance to leave.

The Hinchcliffe in torrential rain, not that you can tell from this.
663 - Robin Hood, Cragg Vale - My second pub was half a mile back towards Mytholmroyd and on my walk up, I'd said hello to two locals sat outside, when the weather seemed pleasant.  It was raining again when I arrived back here, a chap was still outside but under a pub awning (see below pic).  I said 'hi' and entered to find one of those truly happy bygone era pub scenes.  One small room with people sat at each table all chatting and having a laugh.  'Bantz' I think the kids call it.  I ordered a gorgeous £2.50 pint of Mallinson's Cascade and with the barmaid taking such care over "topping it up", it gave me chance to think.  I've been conscious on recent BRAPA trips of sitting in the most remote corner of the most remote room, and losing something of the true pub experience and hubbub.  So I perched on the end of some other people's tables, everyone was smiley so I was put at ease.  Though no-one engaged me in BRAPA or other chat (I got the GBG out as a prompt!), I was happy to smile along as they slagged off BT's service centre and worried about their electricity going off.  Eventually, a bald man's head moved to reveal the free Wi-fi code on a blackboard, this pub has easily the best Wi-fi I've ever used but as always happens in the best pubs, time had marched on with urgency, and I had to leave.  A lovely pub though, much recommended. 

So I power walked 1.5M back to Mytholmroyd station to get the hour long train back to L**ds before changing for York.  A really good evening, and it has got the midweek WY BRAPA juices flowing again.

No-one puts Simey in the corner at the Robin Hood! 
Latest News .....
  • The "Heavy Woollen" tour due this Saturday is postponed again as Mr Ellis has "other commitments.  It will now happen on Sat 27th June.  I hope.  
  • This opened up the question "so what shall I do this Sat?"  A North Yorkshire day of course, Chapel-le-Dale is next on the list and I've just finished organising and booking the day which also takes in a Cumbrian pub and my final Skipton ticks.    
  • My recent successes in eclipsing my "15 pubs a month target" means I've now calculated I will be 62 years old rather than 63 when I finished the BRAPA challenge.  I need to do this in the early stages though until pubs/places get trickier in later years (for example, when Yorkshire is all done and Cornwall still has 100 pubs to do!)
  • I'm on the dreaded "checking" at work next week again so 5pm finish but BRAPA continues as normal with a not too far bus ride from Leeds to Ledsham out east.  Heather at work thinks I should combine it with the Gaping Goose in Garforth as a pre-emptive tick (it's in my 1982 GBG at least!)
  • Also on the West Yorkshire front, I still have a Hebden Bridge tick to do I didn't feel able to combine with Cragg Vale, so I'm now going to combine it with my final Mirfield and Sowerby Bridge ticks, probably in early July. 
  • Our monthly Bedfordshire trip is a week earlier this month on 13th, Eversholt is the key place.  There is one bus a week!  It is 12 noon Saturday from Flitwick station so reckon I can take advantage but some planning is required re other pub ticks, Harlington for example.
And that's all folks for now,

Keep pubbing!  Si


  1. Just for delay claim purposes, which train off Leeds was it? Not to call orders are a fairly common occurrence, in a case like this it is unlikely many people would be travelling from east of Rochdale to Castleton, Mills Hill or Moston, and with the late running the following Roch-Man Vic stopper may well actually have been ahead of your train.

    A Leeds Plusbus may help with Ledsham, see
    I don't think you'll be able to get the £2 online offer as to buy them online you need to book a ticket to Leeds, which obviously you don't need to do. Just go to York booking office, show them your season, ask for a Leeds Plusbus day ticket for the relevant date and give them £3.

    Leeds-Hebden Bridge is valid via Mirfield, so for said excursion just buy a Leeds-Hebden Bridge day return and break your journey at Mirfield and Sowerby Bridge.

    Note that Flitwick & Harlington Plusbus tickets are not valid on the 140 to Eversholt, I note that it passes through Tingrith which is not on the map. What I would be tempted to do is go out to Toddington on another bus, get the 09:55 to Eversholt, back on the 12:39, then whip in the pubs in Toddington. You may find this link helpful:

  2. Hi Tom, it should have left Leeds 16:23 I think.

    Thanks re Ledsham bus, I will certainly go for the plusbus option.

    Good thinking re Eversholt but don't wanna be hanging around so will stick to original plan as pub doesn't open til 12.

  3. Only 18 late at Mytholmroyd.

    I suppose there probably isn't much to do in Eversholt. The village has its own website and everything, it looks very proud. I think it will be one of two extremes, either hugely welcoming, or as soon as they see a northern interloper, they'll have you arrested / lynched / whatever the southern equivalent it.

  4. Haha, it will be interesting to see what Eversholt holds and I will visit the website now you've mentioned it. Certainly it's the most I've researched a Beds pub journey since Bolnhurst and that came up trumps, despite the gastro nature. My friend from MK says the southern equivalent of being lynched is being ignored!

  5. I thought southerners ignored everybody.

    I look like being on the 07:38 Leeds-St. Pancras for some point of its journey on Saturday, just in case by coincidence you are booked on it. I haven't got round to knowing what I will be on northbound.