Friday 3 July 2015

BRAPA - Three More from West Yorkshire / July Agenda

About to finish ticking off another double page in Hebden Bridge
Apologies for the late write up but it's been a hectic working week.  On Tuesday night, whilst it was still June and warming up nicely for the heat of July, my weekly West Yorkshire trip took me out from Leeds on the 16:51 to Hebden Bridge.....

682 - Old Gate Bar & Restaurant, Hebden Bridge
Firstly, the name didn't exactly fill me with confidence that this was going to be pub of the year.  I was dripping with sweat when I arrived after the train journey and walk through town - it was hotter now that it had been at lunchtime.  A predictably modern, spacious bar greeted me, but a pleasing array of exciting guest ales on a long shiny copper bar, presided over by smiling young barmaids who made eye contact when they spoke to you, which isn't always a 'gimme' in the game of being served a pint, sadly.  After Saturday's success re outdoor drinking, I took one look around at the near deserted, spartan interior, and decided I should be "where the action is", with the masses outdoors!  It wasn't the best outdoor area, being at the front on the main road, full of smokers and being in the shade (which actually probably wasn't a bad thing!)  I asked an elderly couple if I could squeeze on the end of there bench and rang Dad to fine-tune some BRAPA meets for July.  Since when did he become such a key player?  Sadly, the old couple had soon left and were replaced by a rowdy foursome which seemed to be two tanned older ladies with pale thin student boys.  Their laughs were awful!  Still, as the wind created a much needed draft and blew my "Good Beer Guide" pages around, I decided my 5% Thornbridge Ruin was an excellent quality ale and it wasn't too bad an experience.

Arriving at the Old Gate, note the outdoor area to the left where I sat.
683 - Puzzle Hall Inn, Sowerby Bridge
Back down the train line in a 'Leeds-erly' direction, I was at Sowerby Bridge for my second a final (for now) visit to this pretty little town, think I actually prefer it to Hebden Bridge.  Flanked by a canal and river, I walked along the quiet Hollins Mill Lane until I reached this pub.  Now, I think the term "hidden gem" is overly used but it certainly applies here.  A friendly barmaid with a skirt so short & tight that she looked a bit uncomfortable served me a nice ale from Jarrow in the small traditional main bar but again, all the punters were outside, this time in a marquee with so many old beer kegs, it looked like a festival is always imminent.  The locals were a friendly bunch and despite some screaming kids at the river below, it was a tranquil experience.  I went to the loo and noticed loads of punk band stickers on the cubicle.  OFF!  Bootscraper.  The Franceens.  Surely they've not all played here?  That'd make it even more heavenly.  As I returned with a cracking half of Norfolk ale,  a man asked me if I'd been on Untappd but when I confirmed I had, he seemed more interested in the BRAPA challenge so maybe he'd been to look at my GBG I'd left on the table.  Always willing to explain BRAPA, I gave him and his three friends a card and went on my way, but not before he'd recommended some pork pies which had just come in, the maker of them was in the bar!  I had to get one, a cheese & pickle flavour, and it seriously was one if not the best growler I have ever witnessed.  
Hazy evening sun at the wonderful Puzzle Hall Inn.
The BRAPA gods (an awkward bunch at the best of times) were smiling on me now.  After this experience, the next train was delayed to an extent that allowed me chance to get back to the railway station to get it, but not only this but it was a rare Mirfield stopper where I needed a final pub tick!  In fact, it was delayed a little too long and with the last sensible train due to Leeds at 21:30, I worked out I needed to be in Mirfield before 20:53 to make it worth the stop off - and I calculated we made up some time and were in at 20:49.  Superb!

684 - Flowerpot, Mirfield
So, after legging it away from town I made it here before 9pm, a fine result.  I was pleased to see this was a more traditional style Ossett pub because they rarely let you down, and let's fact it, a West Yorkshire midweek trip isn't really the same without one.  An army of young females were behind the bar, it was quite busy and I reflected, peak pubbing time (I'm not normally out this late!)  so I got a Fernandes "Newky Black" cos' I hate Newcy Brown Ale and love Fernandes brewery.  However, when time is tight, a 6% stout isn't the most sensible thing.  There was a nice outdoor area, you could almost call this a beer garden with a patio at the top where I sat and quite a lot of students further down, near the bridge and river I'd crossed to get here.  It was still more than warm enough to be out as I unwound, though I soon find myself having to almost neck this impossible stout.  I managed it, there was a pleasant summer evening hubbub, the pub was still bustling inside, and I got my train comfortably in the end.  

A race against time : drinking in Mirfield
So it was almost 11pm when I was finally home but worth it.  I think I'd been galvanised by Saturday's adventure and I know I'm not a million miles away from completing West Yorkshire now .... watch the space but I don't want to divulge how many I have left.

NB : I also confirmed with my boss at work (an Otley resident) that I have indeed, from descriptions provided, visited the 'Fleece' on my birthday a couple of years ago.  It was the first pub of the day in fact with a great sloping garden.  It'll be properly reviewed in the archives but we are adding it in as pub 685.  

July Agenda

In 2014, July was by far and away the most productive month of BRAPA to date with 33 pubs ticked off!  I have similarly high, liver busting, hopes this time around.  Here's some of what I'm trying to do.  It might not all come off.

  • "Welly" Day out.  It should really be called 'Me, Tom and the hangers on' as just like last year's Doncaster fun, we are the only fully committed people going to Scarborough, Filey, Malton and most importantly, Cloughton Newlands (from a North Yorkshire alphabetical position I mean).  Dad, Bernie & Chris Irvin and Ben might make cameos for certain points in the day.  5 new pubs to be ticked, I'd be happy if we achieve this.
  • Goole Day - My resident South of York expert Krzb Britain (plus Jig Johnstone) helped me achieve the outer Selby crawl earlier this year and they return with Goole-Snaith-Rawcliffe-Thorne.  This will massively help with East Yorkshire which is racing West Yorks for the "first completed" county.
  • Aberdeen Bonanza - I will be spending the night in Aberdeen, admiring the Granite City from a tourists perspective and of course, trying to tick off all the (10) GBG entries,of which there are plenty.  A bit like my first overnight trip to Bedford, it's a case of balancing what I do on "day one" with "day two" so I don't overdo it!  Controversially to some, I also wouldn't mind giving the cask-free local Brewdog a visit.
  • Bedfordshire VI - Oh yes, I'm back again for part 6!  East Beds again too with some seriously unfinished business in Dunton and Sandy due to their tardy opening times.  With friend Clare Hoppett and fiancee James Whapshott now living in nearby Gamlingay, my ideal scenario would be for them to drive to Dunton, meet me, drink with me and taxi me round to Great Barford, Felmersham and the like, but having criticised Daddy Hoppett's beermat postage policy, I fear my cheekiness may be turning to pure hatred for me and BRAPA! 
  • Golf Takeover Day - What could be nicer than a summer's Tuesday off work playing golf with your Dad and then going for a pub lunch?  I tell you what - going for a pub lunch at Lund and South Dalton, two difficult East Yorks ticks.  One has a Michelin star, one does "basic pub snacks".  Guess which one I am favouring?  
  • 'East of Hull, Take me Home' Day - I told you Dad was a key player this month and we are also having a Saturday together, a mellow day out at Hollym and Hedon.  It may involve a coastal walk.  You may not realise but there are actually places further east than Hull!
  • West Yorkshire Midweek Nights - No reason why my Tuesday trips can't go on,  My immediate focus is Linthwaite and Maltham, in that 'South of Huddersfield' belt.  Combining the two into one trip is one of my main focusses (foci?) at the moment.  
  • Bonus 'Quick Win' Trips - With the long days, good weather and a tiny bit of time off work, I have a few vague plans to whip in a couple of (relatively) easy ticks that are coming up on the North Yorkshire agenda.  It may not happen so I won't be too specific in case.  

Phew!  So as you can see, lots of fun fun fun, social pubbing, you can tell summer is here!  

Happy BRAPping, I'm off to bed before 'Welly Day' tomorrow.



  1. Glad to see your report, I always enjoy them, thanks. I was beginning to worry that you'd been arrested for robbing your own bank or deported to Tunisia or something.

    Are you sure that your boss isn't deliberately tricking you into thinking you've been to another pub to prevent you going on a work night. I'm ever the cynic. Trust no one.

    The people I feel sorry for are the two student boys in Hebden Bridge, especially with smiling young barmaids available.

    Let me know if you need any ticket gen for Goole (Arriva bus day ticket would seem likely), Aberdeen (if you do any hard out of town ones), or anything else. Depending on what you can get a lift for, a Sandy PlusBus may be useful for July Beds.

    See you in the morning, I shall be aiming for the slightly odd Gilberdyke - Scarborough working, booked into Scarborough 10:45 ish.

  2. Thanks Tom, means a lot you enjoy reading them!

    You might have a point about my boss, before out Otley crawl, she looked terrified at the prospect of bumping into me and my friends.

    Thanks also re the ticket gen, re Goole I think I'll leave it in the expert hands of Krzbi Britain. Aberdeen I'm concentrating on the centre but I'm itching for the Dyce airport tick since our conversation. Still, I could combine that with Orkney and Shetland trips?

    I may do the Sandy plusbus idea, makes sense down there. Not heard from Clare in ages so can't take for granted her presence.

  3. For Sandy Plus Bus info see: for the map
    Note it is valid at Dunton, but not at Great Barford or Felmersham.
    Dyce should just be a simple day return from Aberdeen. Trains run every hour or so. I'd imagine there are flights from there to Orkney and Shetland, but not certain, as I tend to stick to boats, not that I have been up there. Indeed, with boats you can probably hop between the islands and make a circular tour of it along with some of the north of Scotland.