day two dawned with mist and a chill in the air, quickly dispersed by a fantastic breakfast with a huge amount of food options to tempt us. Being the only guests we were free to have a leisurely (well over an hour) munch before heading off out in bright sunshine to walk along the Derwent.
The only downside to this was that we ended up missing the somewhat infrequent 6.1 to Wirksworth - so, dragging my titty lip along the floor, we "had" to storm along the A6 into Belper to plan how we might get to our intended first stop - having already, for a second day running, ditched plans to go to Buxton. Sorry Buxton. The solution was to catch the TP to Cromford and catch the 6.1 coming the other way to Wirksworth. Something of a fanny about but well rewarded with a trip to the Royal Oak.
This redoubtable old pub is tucked away on St John Street near two of Wirksworth's churches. You'd be very unlikely to complete the combination of happening across it by chance, and finding it open - it opens 12-15.00 Sundays and from 20.00 to 23.00 during the week as I understand. Luckily its been in the GBG for many years, which is where I found out about it.
Bass and Landlord are regulars and there is nearly always something from Whim - this time Hartington IPA, complimented by Blue Monkey Ape Ale. Miss N went for the latter and I the Hartington IPA, and we decided to sit in the beer garden. I think yard is a more accurate description - but whichever you use - what a fantastic spot. Sat in glorious sunshine beneath a cloudless sky supping pale hoppy real ale, after all the tribulation of getting there it felt like we'd got chance to relax. First pints quickly dispersed, we got sandwiches and both had a further pint of the Blue Monkey (£2.80, 5.0%). And then we repeated the round, before we set off once again.
Back on the 6.1 we alighted near The Tavern in Belper. I'd never been before but heard it sold real ales often including ones from Shottle Farm Brewery. None on offer this time but there were pints of Bradfield Northern General appeal brew to be supped, from a range that included Grafton brewery Jazz. The Jazz was really poor with almost no taste to it so we were glad of the Bradfield, and once again the drinks came to £5.60. Here we sat in the sunshine in the beer garden before heading up the road to find a bus stop with a timetable on it.
With no Sevens to get us to Openwoodgate, we caught a bus to Ripley. Here we went to the Pear Tree, and from a range of four predominantly Greedy King beers, I went for their mild (it doesn't count if you drink a beer they wish they could discontinue) and Miss N a Pale Ale from Dark Star. Once again the beer was £5.60!
A quick walk took us to the Talbot Tap House where there were five Amber Ales on offer, and a guest. I went for a pint of the Revolution, as did Miss N, which the barman told me was the eighth version brewed, and which the blackboard proclaimed featured Special B Malt. Whatever taste that might impart, the Revolution remains a favourite Amber Ales beer, so when the second round came I had that again, and Miss N something that was about 6.0%. Despite confusion about its name at the time, I didn't think to look at the clip, even when returning the glasses to he bar. There's journalism for yer...
A yomp followed to our penultimate boozer, the rather excellent Thorn Tree at Waingroves. Two good quality beers were sampled after a rather lengthy walk to get to it - 4T's Brewing face the hops, at 5.5%, and a Hopcraft Fleur D'Alsace which was slightly less strong but delicious nonetheless. Alas this was a short visit since we had no idea when the "nines" ran from the bottom of Pease Hill (both phones dead, locals lacking confidence in the idea we'd get home!) so we restricted ourselves to one pint before scaling the hill and walking down past the Beehive - to wait 40 minutes for a bus to Derby. Doh.
Once there we headed for The Station Inn but either it closes early Sunday or doesn't open at all - I probably ought to know this, in fact its probably on my blog. Either way, no amount of standing hopefully outside the door was going to make the lights come on. Round the corner the Brunswick was serving til 23.00 so we had chance for a quick last pint and a half - Railway Porter for Miss N and half for me, along with a pint of Brampton Griffin - and a pork pie.
So ended an at times hectic traipse round many excellent pubs in the Derwent and tributary valleys, memorable for great beer, fantastic scenery and lovely Autumn sunshine. We'll just have to do that ball ache journey to Buxton and Elton another time...