Recently I had the day orf. Work. It was a wet and dry sunny and cloudy day according to the weather, but would stay dry between 13.00 and 16.00. Which was good, since that was when most of our walk took place. Sheffield to Chesterfield, Chesterfield to Higham, walk to Ashover and up tp Kelstedge then bus it to who knows where. Here are some details.
I had arranged to meet Davefromtshop at the Sheffield Tap. In line with my usual level of planning and some fading memories, I hadn't thought about when it opened.Neither had I remembered that Davefromtshop now lives in Chesterfield, our second stop. Both these subjects came up when I saw him, about 10.35, with me standing outside the locked door of the Tap. Luckily, Liz was on hand to remind me that it opens at 11.00. We stopped in the station for 20 minutes, saw a massive rainstorm then walked out in bright sunshine to the Tap.
I had been in the night before and sampled the fabulous Arbor J Bomb - so I had a pint and Dave a half. Its made with Jester hops and is the fruitiest most citriussy bitter beer I;ve had in ages. A perfect, f delayed, start to the day.
Soon we were on the train to Chesterfield, and we found CoCo bar and the White Swan shut. Luckily, Spoons opens early so we popped in there for Dave to have half a Chantrey stout and me half a Jaipur. We then walked to the bus stop and caught the Red Arrow to Higham. I knew the Crown would be shut, also the Shoulder of Mutton at Hallfieldgate, so after taking a few pics we set off. Down the track. across the field and railway and up through lush green countryside to Brackenfield.
From here we headed up a narrow green lane to Ogston Carr Woods, over a couple of small footbridges and then got lost slightly, before rejoining the path and then climbing a gate onto the road. We walked up the lovely Stonerow Lane towards Dalebank and turned off second left down to Falllgate, past the closed Miners Ar,s then along the main road into Ashover.
Luckily you come out on Butts Lane and so we went straight into the Old Poets Corner. The fires were lit and it was lovely and warm, although, after our walk we didn't really appreciate that. Dave had a pint of Dark and Delicate or similar, and me a pint of Oakham's wonderful Inferno, before we went outside to watch the clouds amass and the brewery worker toil, before heading back inside.
Our second pints saw us both on 5.5% Ashover Butts Pale Ale. Far less citrussy and astringent then the Oakham, but with a lovely body, this was the pint that saw us nearly stay for a third. Instead, we headed out and up - to find both the Crispin and Black Swan closed. We opted, as time was getting on, not to return to the Poets and instead made the short brisk walk uphill to Kelstedge, and the Kelstedge Inn. I've not been in since it was a Mansfield boozer and to be fair its now really a restaurant. They do still sell real ales though and Dave had a half of Flipside and me a half of Peak Ales Bakewell best. Both were OK. Its not somewhere I'd rush back to though.
Soon we were in Matlock and went to MoCa Bar, for Dave's first visit. The original plan was to go to Belpwer, Openwoodgate, Ripley and home but the ba was quiet,, comfortable, friendly, and selling all real ales at £2.80 a pint. Dave had a Blue Monkey 4 Wise Monkeys and me a pint of the 5.9% Blue Monkey English Blue pale ale. It was fantastic.
After arguing that we should go to Derby and catch the late train, we splashed out on a quarter of huntsman pie and pickle, and two more pints of the delicious if strong English Blue. We left to discover a lack of busses to Chesterfield or Derby so went in the Crown for a loo stop and a half. I ordered a half of the Nutbrook mild whilst Dave went to the loo, then I did the same, to come back and find that the mild was off, and then the lady had poured us a pint of another Nutbrook beer and then became unhappy when we reminded her it was a half. Well done Wetherspoons! Although, the Nutbrook was lovely.
The bus to Belper was on time and we half an hour to wait for the TP to Derby so nipped in the nearby Lion Hotel. Not really a great boozer but they had 4 or 5 Marstons range real ales on and we both had a tasty if expensive half of Ringwood Boondoggle.
Once in Derby we caught a bus to the station and went to the Station Inn. Door wide open, little else has hanged thankfully. As is also unchanged, we both had pints of Bass from the jug and chatted and plotted where to go for our last drink - since it was only 22.30 and the last train was 2 hours 10 minutes away.
This was decided to be the Alexandra. I had a pint of, and probably Dave as well, a light Pale ale of moderate strength. Alas, I can't remember what it was but do that it was lovely. Soon, pork pies eaten, last orders was called so we sensibly opted for a plus 7% Lincoln Green Gyle blah di blah and sat and drunk that very, ve-ry, v.e.r.y....slowly.
So ended a good walk and some lovely beer in interesting pubs along the way. I will have to do it again, with Tash, maybe on a Saturday, increasing the number of pubs that would be open. Until then I will remember the English Blue as the very best beer, of a wonderful day out.