I dunno readers,
if am socialising theres no time to blog; if am not socialising there's nowt to blog about; if am blogging theres no time to socialise. A tawdry, ruddy nosed cycle of face drying monitor rays and nose reddening toxins that ends in RSI and liver damage. Merry Christmas!
Still, its not all bad you know, and one of the perks missing from that seemingly perpetual flowchart is those days when I get to do something new, in this case as a direct result of a tip off form other folk in the world of beer. Last month Dronfield CAMRA mentioned a pub that I ought to visit in Barlow Commonside, given my interest in unspoilt pubs. I thought I might have been before but if I had that would still have been ten years ago so it seemed prudent to construct a walk with it in the middle and head off into the countryside.
Christingpher and I arrived in Dronfield dan walked up to Hill Top, over the bypass and down towards Barlow Lees. Only 20 minutes from Dronfield you are in fantastic unspoilt countryside stretching for miles ahead with only the faintest echoes of the bypass in the background. We strode on through fields and woodland down ancient green lanes to Barlow Brook then up onto the road the Barlow Brewery is on, and finally into Barlow Commonside to our fist stop, the Hare and Hounds on Commonside Lane.
Despite my suspicions this was my first visit and it was perhaps better than I'd been expecting. With the greatest of respect tp Dronfield CAMRA, most people recommend "unspoilt" pubs to me that are simply old but which have been ripped out, expanded or had their age overemphasised. The Hare and Hounds is not such a pub.
I didn't get much sense for how old it was but the tap room on the right is very traditional, if only because of its small size, and the small snug that sits to the right of the bar. There are two further rooms to the left, front and back. The seating and tables are basic and, I mean this in a complimentary way, it seems to have been refurbished and furnished mainly in the 1960's or 70's, giving it a pleasing careworn feel.
There are two real ales on the bar (it may have been three, possibly I misunderstood). On this occasion we ha on pints of the Barlow Heath Robinson, £2.60 a pint and a great session beer to start. We were then kindly given free sandwiches (much appreciated!) before we went back for a pint each of the Barlow IPA, which I think is the Three Valleys one at 5.0%, £3.00 a pint.
The pub was very busy when we arrived around 12.30 but was quieter by the time we left an hour later, and was a fantastic place to people watch, sup great beer and soak up the warmth and atmosphere. You'd especially appreciate this if you a dog lover, as there were nearly as many of them as humans. The beer was well kept, and no doubt had we wanted we could have sat in the back room and admired the views across towards Holmesfield - it must be a great spot in summer. Here's a link to their website .
We cracked on down past the puzzling shut Trout next and then off up Far Lane, in crisp wintry sunshine before heading across to Johnnygate Lane on dwindling quality paths before joining a path that was actually a stream, into Millthorpe. The Royal Oak was open and warm and welcoming and we got sat down chatting with the manager and a regular whilst supping pints of Gales Seafarers (£3.00). We were kindly given a lot of information about the pub - that it was a Berry's House, that Berry's only owned 6 pubs, how it was extended and what formed the original parts of the 17th C building, and lots more. To be honest, the rather basic style of the above detail reflects how unclear my recollections are, and since they don't have a website I recommend you pop along and find the facts out for yourself.
We slogged up Cartledge Lane into Holmesfield next and went straight to the Horns Inn. Three beers were on, Greedy King IPA, Bradfield Farmers Blonde and Ossett Nervous Turkey - my pint of the latter was £2.70. This was a busy pub with a warm welcome and well kept beer that was one of the unexpected stars (based on previous form) of the Three Valleys beer festival 2012. Well worth a visit at other times I'd suggest.
Along the slightly dangerous dark lanes to Northern Common next and the Hearty Oak. A slightly depressing sight to see only 2 out of 5 handpumps in use, even if it was a Sunday, and more so to spot more Greedy King, but the Sheffield Brewery Co NZPA 2 was a nice pint at around the £3.00 mark. There was also possibly another real ale about to come on.
Off down Carr Lane to the Talbot we caught the bus to the Coach and Horses for our penultimate stop. Great to see Buxton guest beers here, we had a pint of Buxton English Pale Ale and a half of their American Red Rye Ale, plus a half of Halcyon - well - you had to. To finish we had another half of Halcyon, for Christingpher, and a bottle of Urthel Saisonairre, but not before I'd laboured to have the member of staff find or agree to the existence of said bottle. That said it was an exemplary range and all tasted fantastic, most notably the Buxton Rye.
Back in Sheffield we alighted the bus near the Rutland Arms so it would have been churlish not to have gone in. In true Beefy day out finishing style I had a whole damn pint of the Raw/Steel City Irresponsibly - it would have been irresponsible to have drunk it responsibly after all. It may not have been my finest decision though, given my rather lengthy sleep inspired trip home...
So this was a great trip out round some new and rarely visited pubs, coupled with some conveniently fantastic weather. Its well worth trying the walk for yourself and visiting some of the other pubs along the way - the Old Pump in Barlow, Rutland and Miners in Holmesfield and Victoria and Three Tuns in Dronfield for example.
Thanks to Dronfield CAMRA for the tip.