Enough of the glamour trips to Wigan and Altrincham. Back to gritty reality today and a first real exploration of Arnold, something of an omission on my part, even given Gedling Borough’s status as a real ale desert. Most of Nottingham’s best pubs are within a mile of the central square.
Nottingham itself continues to be a worthwhile overnighter, with ample budget accommodation, good music venues like the Rescue Rooms, and reliable beer quality. Its curry houses are good but ambitiously priced. What it doesn’t have yet is a comprehensive tram service, and my aversion to buses meant a fairly lengthy and dull walk to Gedling.
Gedling Village itself is unremarkable, despite an enthusiastic information board and a country park on the old colliery that was just too much effort to reach.
The pleasant Willowbrook is typical of Castle Rock’s suburban estate, a bit of a barn but catering well to a good mix of custom, albeit quiet on my visit. The very cheap Harvest Pale was OK (NBSS 3), but the sheer range of drinks seemed very ambitious.
A further 30 minutes down Arnold Lane, magic awaited.
The Robin Hood & Little John is Nottingham’s POTY and the National Cider POTY, and I can vouch for the former. It’s up there with the Coopers Tavern, a gorgeous place to drink and make a mess of a cheese and onion cob. ErlangerNick would love it.
Arnold was heaving with OAPs, and competition for the sub-£5 lunch was fierce. My own repast for a few pennies more included a pint of Lincoln Green’s Mild (NBSS 4), a beer of the year already. The menu, at cobs, pies and nuts, was perfection (Huddersfield’s Grove can keep its deep-fried insects).
The public is a bit of a shrine to Home, a love I can’t share, but a tribute to Everards and their Project William investment here. It was much smarter than the rather down-at-heel Wetherspoons, which was nevertheless heaving.
I would have liked it to be a bit busier, rather than relying on evening trade, and on such a return visit it will no doubt take it’s place in my Top 100 pubs.
I’d like to paint a more upbeat picture of Arnold as well, but there was little else to highlight, unless you like to contrast the social clubs of our main political parties, all in a row on the High Street.