Thursday 16 August 2018

BRAPA - Hope in the Valley : An NFFD Tale

Waiting for the train to appear through the tunnel at Grindleford station

NFFD.  A 'Non Football Football Day'.  This is when Hull City's away fixture just didn't look appealing enough, so instead we go on a BRAPA friendly day, usually in the vicinity.

Sheffield is a place I've pubbed to death, and £39 to get in seemed rather extortionate (what happened to 'twenty is plenty'?) and Hillsborough always feels kind of depressing, their fans aren't always that friendly either, however much I love owls as a general rule! 

So with me keen to get my teeth into Derbyshire ever since I finished Cheshire a few months ago, a North Derbys crawl made a lot of sense.  The regular NFFD trio of myself, Father BRAPA and Thos. Irvin were joined by the Irvin seniors, Chris and Bernie.  They had been unable to attend our Cleethorpes day as Chris had a naughty stone that needed removing, so nice to see him back to full fitness.

A rickety train full of a cross section of South Yorks society took us across the border to the village of Bamford for our first pub, the 11am opener. 

A nice man called Richard had suggested what we were undertaking today was something of a 'thinking man's Transpenine crawl', glad to say I saw little evidence of pub crawlers, and the tricky walks between all stations and pubs meant you'd have to be highly motivated to undertake this.  No Heads of Steam or Buffet Bars or West Riding Refreshment Rooms on this line!

After a good 15 minute stride, me, Chris and Tom arrived at the pub first, approx 10:59am and I was delighted to see a couple even more impatient than me to get inside .......

Poor pub ticking etiquette from this pair

I dressed with the pub in mind

1456 / 2202.  Anglers Rest, Bamford

This pub recently found itself in the spotlight when it appeared on BBC Breakfast News as an example of a pub that found a way of bucking the trend of pub closures, by becoming multi-purpose shop, cafe, post office, DIY shop etc etc for the local residents.  I didn't see it, but Chris tells me they'd opened at 9am to serve the crew that day.  'ONE RULE FOR THE BBC, ONE RULE FOR BRAPA'. (Just saying!)  A bit like Salwick the previous week, despite being inside the pub dead on opening, so were several others and I was stood their sweating, being made to wait for that first and most glorious pint of the day.  We didn't have long to linger, as we needed to stride back to the station for the next hourly train, but despite the obvious way the pub was laid out for hungry walkers / bikers / all those other touristy sections of pub society (a theme we'd find all day), it still managed to maintain a degree of pubbiness which of course is something I'm very conscious of in such places, but not a pub that really forces its personality on you.   But then again, maybe we just weren't here long enough. 

Dad & his favourite door (probably) make friends.

Tom searches for his 'Allam Out' sign, but I can't be bothered waiting.

Billy the mascot, and the closest I could find to a beermat

Woman in jumper I own has a rest en route to other room

Despite Dad telling me he's walking slower these days and has this 'sore underneath foot' condition with a real name, he bombed ahead of us to ensure we made our connection.  Sterling effort from the big man.  This was the tricky part of the day coming up, and because he has some influential South Yorks/North Derbys walking friends, he'd come up with an ordnance survey route to get to the pub from Grindleford station.......

Because I'm an idiot, I overruled the map and soon we'd walked needlessly uphill the wrong way past a guided flower tour, which looked like the most boring thing ever.  At least I heard a classic excerpt of conversation from it.

FLOWER TOUR VISITOR "Oooh, are they rosehips?"

Well, we soon got back on track and walked through nice woodland in the right direction.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this before in my blog, but I've had a dodgy knee for quite a while now.  It was holding up quite well today, I remarked to Bernie, who decided it was probably her scintillating company taking my mind off it.  And who could disagree with that? 

After another wrong turning (this time I redeemed myself by saving the day). we crossed two fields and the pub was lurking on a main road:

That might be a pub?
Then I noticed 'Catchphrases' finest was doing a jazz night, featuring his number 1 hit, "You Gotta Say What You See", number 1 on North Derbys hospital radio anyway.

1457 / 2203.  Grouse, Longshaw

A lovely looking country pub, but Dad (who'd been several times on walks with his friends, always on a midweek lunchtime) warned me it may be full of old duffers with their greedy piggy little faces in the trough (not a direct quote) so imagine our surprise to see the main bar almost deserted, and despite a bottle of Henderson's Relish on each table (it is the law in these parts), you could appreciate what a nice pub this was.    Even so, at the bar, an old woman with an element of the Derbys Imelda Marcos turns to Chris with rouge lips and a leather bound menu and says "you'll probably be wanting this".  To which Chris replies, indicating his pint of Thwaites Wainwright "THIS IS MY FOOD!"  And that is why he is a top pub man.  BRAPA hearts swelled with pride, as we retired to a table in the main bar.  A trip to the confusing loo made me realise the diners were all either enjoying the sun outside, or through a conservatory (spit!) meaning I could enjoy my Mansfield Cask in peace.  Plenty of Marstons pub around here, perhaps not my fave types, but some well kept classics here and really enjoyed the Mansfield, felt perfect for this pub that we'd fallen lucky with.

Me and Tom in a mirror, what could be more wonderful?

The tables were all full of bank notes from around the globe

Horse brassy rural blah

A mercifully peaceful scene
The walk back to Grindleford station wasn't without the odd challenge, but a lot easier, and if we'd kept our eyes peeled in the woods, we'd have seen a sign for the pub all along.

We timed it just nicely for the train, which again was packed with weird knuckle draggers and the like, as we jetted through some gorgeous Hope Valley countryside, to the village of Hope itself.

Again the station was frustratingly far from the pub, about 20 mins walk this time, again I took a slight wrong turning, but soon we were there, and again it looked a good one ......

1458 / 2204.  Cheshire Cheese, Hope

The stone farmhousey feel, the Wards pub lamp, oh yes I had a good feeling about this, and sure enough, I'd end up classing this as pub of the day.  Again, it was semi-food orientated, but this was the pub where it seemed least prominent, and consequently had the most 'olde worlde' pub ambience.  Even worse, at the bar, we had to queue!  Now, you know my views on queues in pubs if you read my blog regularly, but here it was simply a necessity, as the bar was situated between a pillar and a wall which sort of funnelled everyone into a single file scenario, not helped by a local lady with day-glo tan blocking the left side of the bar in that 'I'm not moving for any day-tripper scum'.  A stance I begrudgingly admired, even at the time, I even forced myself to give her an insipid smile.   We sat down some steps and I was just reflecting on what a 'serious drinkers pub' this could well be, when a bunch of blokes in grass skirts arrived on the scene.  They didn't look like men who wore grass skirts in their day to day life, so why do so here?  You're not down the river in Marsden now chumps!   It was quiz time, and after recalling the Boxing Day occasion where Tom puked everywhere, I posed the question 'what is the only time we've done BRAPA on this date?'  I forgot the answer myself, which made for quite an interesting / painful discussion.  I can tell you the answer now, but you won't care will you?  So after smuggling a bit of food from Dad's bag, it was time to move on, but I was a fan of this pub.

Steep steps down from the bar

Chris looks shocked to be in queue of sorts

Calm before the grass skirt gang

Grass skirt Hawaiian chaos in Hope

Our next and final stop of the day was Chinley, where there was a GBG pub about 10-15 mins walk away in the village of Whitehough.  

1459 / 2205.  Old Hall Inn, Whitehough

I guess our luck re the dining nature of such rural pubs on a summer Saturday afternoon had to break eventually, and it did so here.  It was evident from the off, as a barmaid brandishing a menu intercepted me, Tom and Chris at the edge of the bar and asked if we'd booked, OR whether we wanted to be seated?  A bit perplexed, we explained we were just here for a beer, and she stepped to one side and let us see the pumps, and I ordered that thing with a silhouette of a stag on which you see around from time to time.  No idea what it is called.  You beeros might know.  As the others got served, I went on a 'pub walk' to see if I could find us a table but apart from a group sat at a raised barrel, every single table had a 'reserved' sign on it.  A barmaid eyed me inquisitively so I told her our predicament and tasked her with finding a table for drinkers.  But she simply said we could either prop on bar stools or sit at one reserved table "as long as we aren't here for more than half an hour".  There was something in their manner which made me feel we were an unwelcome nuisance they could do without.  Luckily, Dad had arrived by now and found a really nice beer garden out the back, thankfully it was dry and warm enough so that was where we went, probably to the relief of the staff.  The beer was great quality by the way.  I suspect we were very unlucky, for three people on my Twitter independently said they never have any trouble coming in here just for a drink.  And one guy, Stockport retired legend John Clarke, even went as far as to say he knew the owner and he's an ale man and actively encourages drinkers, which I'd never have guessed on today's evidence! 

Jaunty angled shot to reflect my turbulent mood!

A photo to sum up my pub experience more than words ever could
Chris had noticed that the GBG entry for this pub also refers to a pub just across the way, owned by the same people (the modern day equivalent of an 'Inn Brief'), which seemed to make sense as a pre-emptive as we'd now all decided (or at least overruled Tom) that Marple was going to be a step too far on this occasion.   We could see it from our picnic bench so walked out through the back of the garden.

Here we go ... pre-emptive time!

Hang on, who the heck is that next to me??
Paper Mill Inn, Whitehough

Although the Old Hall hadn't felt particularly 'pubby', stepping inside the Paper Mill made me realise it did have a certain old atmosphere to it that this one didn't, and once more, I saw that ale with the stag silhouette on so ordered it again to see how quality compared.  Well, it was a TOTALLY different beer, so somewhere along the lines, I'd been given a pint of something else!  Oh dear, I don't think Whitehough was a lucky place for me.  Bernie looked at a blackboard, and suddenly seemed all scandalised.  "Balls with Choc Dipping Sauce" she thought it said, having not seen the 'dough' line above it.  Not wanting to be caught out again, we immediately retired to the outdoor area and the pub was pretty busy, with live football on in one corner which I peered at for a minute, until a man appeared along side me (possibly the one in the photo above) and said something excitable about Everton.  The pub seemed to be big on pizza, and outside, I eyed up a left over slice and wondered how scroaty (but never scrotey) I'd be if I had it, but a couple next to us told me a wasp had been crawling all over it.  Classic twaspish behaviour.  Bernie, on a roll after her blackboard incident, saw a cycling man in full lycra and described him as the equivalent of a 'meat feast' pizza.  Classic.  A good moment to end a really fun, interesting day in North Derbys, great ales, great company, and decent pubs under the circs.

Tomorrow night, I'll be pubbing in another rural location, so stay tuned for that one.  We're getting close to the new GBG release date and the excitement is building, my 2018 one looks battered, but not as bad as Martin's copy.  Here's the new cover ......

Red cover and some strange looking pics at the top .... interessant! 

Thanks for reading, carry on pubbing!  



  1. Did you design that cover ? Matches your shirt.

    1) Did the Cheshire Cheese still have loads of Wednesday programmes ?

    2) £20s plenty is only proper football that's funded by Asian tourists

    3) Can your Dad replace De Bruyne for a while ?

    1. Peter Eustace who played for Sheffield Wenesday and other was the landlord of the Cheshire Cheese years ago.

  2. Hmm, didn't know that Mansfield Cask still existed. Probably brewed at Wolverhampton, but that's no bad thing.

  3. FLOWER TOUR VISITOR "Oooh, are they rosehips?"
    Which is a shame, as those crafty Magic Rock folks did a rosehip beer a few years back. To be fair don't seem to have bothered again, so maybe rosehips have gone back to being as pointless as they ever were.

  4. "as Chris had a naughty stone that needed removing"

    Crikey. Liposuction to have 14 pounds removed? ;)

    "I dressed with the pub in mind"

    Or, they knew you were coming so did a quick repaint job to match (a bit like that green car a few posts back). :)

    "it still managed to maintain a degree of pubbiness "

    So, as you lot say over there, quite homely.

    "I don't know if I've ever mentioned this before in my blog, but I've had a dodgy knee for quite a while now."

    I vaguely recall reading something along those lines. But then, I'm over 60 thus I am getting a bit senile at times. :)

    "we crossed two fields and the pub was lurking on a main road"

    I can see why you cut across the fields. It's an hour's walk following the road up and around.

    "And that is why he is a top pub man."

    Well done that man! (thumbs up)
    (over here we have the saying 'liquid bread')

    "Me and Tom in a mirror, what could be more wonderful?"

    You and Tom in a mirror with your backs turned? (LOL)

    "and if we'd kept our eyes peeled in the woods, "

    Not literally of course. :)

    "We sat down some steps"

    Is that a saying over there? I read that as sitting on the steps which I doubt is correct.

    "They didn't look like men who wore grass skirts in their day to day life, so why do so here? "

    Seeing as how you don't offer up an answer I surmise you didn't ask them why. Therefore I deduce that you were *cough* 'skirting' the issue. (LOL)

    "Dad had arrived by now and found a really nice beer garden out the back"

    Yep. Looks quite nice on Streetview. And it has an exit/entrance leading straight to The Paper Mill Inn, which, as you mention, is owned by the same company/people.

    "so somewhere along the lines, I'd been given a pint of something else!"

    Hopefully it was as good as the one across the road.

    "great ales, great company, and decent pubs under the circs."

    Agreed. :)


    PS - "Plenty of Marstons pub around here"

    I think pub needs an 's'.

  5. "A nice man called Richard" - no such thing, mate.

  6. Glad you liked the Cheshire Cheese - we've not been for years but does it still have the thing where nothing in the bar quite seems to be straight or at right angles?

    We accidentally ended up at a weeknight lock-in there once, and Alison was sent behind the bar to pull her own pint because the bar staff were all sat out front with the regulars and couldn't be bothered getting up. Happy days.