it may have been grim today what with rain and wind but yesterday ( Saturday 2nd ) was gloriously sunny. So much so, that I decided to wander off up Stannington to get some views, soak up the weak spring sunshine and try some new pubs.
I started at Crookes, easy for me to reach on the bus, and walked along Stannington View Road (it seemed apt), down the jennel, and out into the field at the end of St Andrews Road. Instead of heading towards Mark lane I went straight down and over the stile then made my way down a steep slope, through the woods and eventually out on to the road. I headed down to the allotments then picked my way across the stream and through more steep woods out onto Rivelin Valley Road.
I then headed through Rivelin park and left up onto Roscoe Bank - a good start so far, except I wanted to start at the lowest point and catch the bus to the top, so I had to walk downhill for 5 minutes or more to the Anvil.
This large corner pub has a car park and small outdoor drinking area, and two large rooms inside. The main bar room is on the left with a well lit seating area and a bar with lots of dark wood panelling. Most of the punters were in here watching the, for once, good football news rolling across the screen, and I sat behind them keeping an eye on the scores. I had a pint of Bradfield Blonde from a choice of that and Black Sheep, the Bradfield was well kept and a hard earned reward after my near sprint, albeit a needless one, from Rivelin.
I went out about half past the hour to catch the number 11 bus - I had seen it at Roscoe bank at 4 minutes past so assumed it would be on the hour, 20 past and 20 to. Alas, the bus stop suggested this was not the case and I had obviously just missed one, so I began walking back up the hill to where I had joined Stannington Road.
Once on the bus I kept an eye out for the turn onto Uppergate Road, and having spotted the sign hopped off expecting to espy my intended destination. Alas my eyesight was having an off day so I headed initially left past the closed Hare and Hounds opposite the church.
The pub looked as if it had been shut a while based on the tempest of encroaching undergrowth, and I wondered what may have occasioned its closure. Certainly in comparison to other Stannington pubs (perhaps with the exception of the Sportsman ) it looked as if it would have struggled to compete in terms of traditional appearance - it appeared to be a 1960's prefab stuck incongruously across from the church, on a site which surely would have had an older pub there if not next to the church.
Its fair to say I see a lot of closed pubs and think, surely someone could make a go of that. I saw a pub, stood almost on its own near Meadowhall the other day, on a street off Attercliffe Road after the Wentworth,a road I had never had reason to travel down before, all of a sudden in the wilderness of flattened industry a dirty brown and grey, once terracotta fronted Stones pub loomed up, forlorn and abandoned but not seemingly in disrepair. Alas my fleeting glance meant I did not see what its name was, but I immediately started to imagine what could be done to save it, assuming, as I am afraid I have to, that it closed years ago. No such thoughts however, accompanied my view of the sad edifice of the Hare and Hounds.
On round the corner back on myself (I was sure i could see a sign on a wall) i walked up the hill to the Crown and Glove. The impressive frontage is large, looking like 3 or perhaps 4 buildings encompassed into one, the part on the left being the only one that still resembled a cottage or house. There is a 1930's style jug and bottle as you enter, with rooms on either side.
No-one was in the left side so I ventured to the right and found a few locals in the bar and the pubs dogs readying themselves for a walk. On the bar were 3 handpumps, with Black Sheep, a Tetley seasonal and Kelham Easy Rider on offer. I opted for the Kelham, although I did try the Tetley offering, which was not to my taste, reminding me of the things I dislike about the Tetley flavour whilst hiding the facets that make it distinct. I also had a trip down memory lane in the form of a couple of bags of Frazzles to stave off my hunger.
After the dogs (and owners ) returned I sat at one of the tables thronged by the large windows which afford a fantastic view over to Staithes and Rails, and was joined by Bella the bull terrier for a while before parking myself at the quiet bar for a chat with the barman. We discussed at length the vagaries and injustices of renting a pub from a pubco and the state of beer in Stannington amongst other subjects. Overall I had a fantastic time and intend to go again soon.
Heading for the Robin Hood at Little Matlock I popped in the Peacock on the off chance this Thwaites house would have some dark beer - and was well rewarded. The pub was heaving with diners and drinkers sat outside catching the fading evening sun.
On the bar were three handpulls, dispensing a range of Lancaster bomber, Nutty Black and Black Magic, a dark porter style beer with a lovely cappuccino head and a robust malty finish. It was impressive enough to see them selling a dark mild but the porter was a revelation, so much so that i stopped for a pint despite being by now a little behind schedule.
15 minutes later I was walking down the path to the Robin Hood, which was quiet inside but a lot of people, mainly families were sat outside. This had been my first experience of the pub when we used to visit on summers evenings when I was a kid. We would sit outside or, more likely in my case, go on the swings or the climbing frame ( which may have been a pile of rocks, or indeed any structure, but was climbable nonetheless).
Inside there were two Bradfield beers on the bar, the Blonde and one which may have been called Decade, which is what I had, with some emergency olives to put me on - not a traditional beer accompaniment I know, but a change from crisps. Alas I could not linger for food so had to trudge back up the path and on eventually to Myers Grove lane where i caught the bus, making it all the way back on two buses to Handsworth in 45 minutes. So, a successful day of stout walking and almost stout drinking in sunny Stannington, where all the pubs I visited served more than one real ale, and were just reward for a weary walker.