Of all the English counties, Devon is my least explored, and therefore has most Beer Guide pubs still to visit. It’s obviously a long hike from Cambridge, but so are Lancashire and Tyne and Wear, and I’ve seen most of them over the years.
The lack of football teams is an issue; I’ve only been to Plainmoor and Home Park a couple of times. There’s also a lack of cheap accommodation, and the M5 is a really offputting road. We were stuck there, with a pleasant view of Bridgwater Morrisons, for 2 hours yesterday morning.
Luckily, Cullompton approached just as nature, and the county border, called, and Sis kindly tested the beer in the Pony & Trap while I marvelled at a meticulously maintained local. You could call this “traditional” and leave it there; that’s about all you’ll get from WhatPub as well.
I’ve been trying to visit it for a while but the old-fashioned opening hours (12-2, 5-11.30) had defeated me. Being 5 minutes off Junction 28, it’s worth a stop, but I’d recommend an evening visit; it was painfully quiet for the first 10 minutes of our visit.
That beer range and sparkling pumps may look like the reason to stop, but actually it wasn’t. There was no dark beer for Sis, and just a bit too many beers to ensure consistent quality for my liking. Bass, Jail Ale and Pride of Dartmoor were all judge OK, which I’ll call NBSS 2.5. I presume that range of beers finds favour with CAMRA locally and tastes better later in the day.
The pub is better than the beer. It’s immaculate, and starts to become cosy as a few old boys come in at 12.30.
You may think it only takes a Bass mirror to gain my favour, but actually it was the outside toilet and meat raffle that swung it.
Cullompton is a one-street town, with the magnificent St Andrews Church set back to great effect. Half an hour was enough to complete the town trail, but you could easily extend a stay by walking to Brithem Bottom. which sounds fun.
The scenery around here is stunning as soon as you leave the M5, and nearly all the Beer Guide entries are in attractive looking villages. Devon is going to be an expensive but rewarding county to complete.