I visit North West Hampshire quite a bit as it’s on my way to the End of the Road music festival, has good walks in Watership Down territory and is amply supplied with cheapo Travelodges and Premier Inns.
Just north of Andover are some of the prettiest villages in the South, including the thatch and stream chocolate box that is Hurstbourne Tarrant. As usual for the Test Valley, I felt like I was being watched on account of my exceptional scruffiness.
The George & Dragon there is “modern upmarket“, with bottles of Bolly and fresh daffs on the windowsills, decent seating options, £13.50 burgers and some dull homebrew (Betteridge) from round the corner. I liked it though, being less oppressively posh than some recent Beer Guide entries nearby (Tangley – see for yourself).
Closer to Andover I stopped at the intriguing village of Enham Alamein. Ostensibly used for rehabilitation of ex-servicemen, this is both history and great architecture, right down to a thatched bus-stop.
Andover itself has never really justified a visit, with Beer Guide entries confined to a cluster of southern villages, notably the White Lion in Wherwell. Being a London overflow town, it’s also got a smaller historic centre than you might expect. Still, I gave it every chance yesterday.
It has its moments, despite a slightly run-down but functional pedestrianized main street that reminds me of Haverhill. The hilly area around the Church is attractive though.
Nearby, the ancient Angel has an interesting courtyard of murals, and provides the first clue to the dominant beer supply.
There’s almost more Greene King here than in Bury St Edmunds, and to be honest I’m not sure what else I expected (Wadworth, Fullers ?). The best ranges would be in the Beer Guide choices, starting with a Wetherspoons typically busy with OAP lunchtime trade, and the usual few professional Doom Bar drinkers.
I adopted my normal tactic of going for the last beer pulled, and was surprised at the quality of (predictably) Ruddles, which had all the body I’ve found lacking in the small breweries beers. I rated it NBSS 4, a rare high for me.
Almost as good was the 6X is the accurately named Town Mills. This is a vast, sprawling pub with a healthier lunchtime food trade than you’d find in Cambridge outside the Eagle. In a smarter town, this would be converted into a Brunning & Price or similar. Here, it is as unpretentious a casual dining pub as you’ll find.
Hard to fault, and not just because of the wealth of breweriana dotted about.
Good to see such excellent beer in Andover, and I will continue to seek after some appreciation of Flack Catcher and Andwell when they no doubt pop up in the remaining GBG village pubs, while wishing they had Ringwood on.
12 thoughts on “ANDOVER -REFUGE FROM THE BOLLY VALLEY”
Martin – do you walk 15 miles EVERY day ? I’m trying to up my game a bit as I career into my sixth decade but I’m not sure the body could manage 15 miles every day.What,if I may ask,are the health benefits you’ve noticed because I too enjoy supping far more than the daily recommended most days and am just wondering where peak levels of exercise occurs in your routine to negate the obvious side effects of calorie intake.
I enjoyed the account of your Andover visit – I used to commute daily into the smoke from there,living in a very pretty village just south of the town called Penton Mewsey.
Unfortunately Andover was a terrible old kip of a place in my time as the old GLA seemed to ship most of its problem families down there with the inevitable result.I imagine in days gone by it was a wonderful old market town.
Stanley – not 15 miles a day, but I was averaging that during the summer with some 25 milers. More like 10 at moment, seems to have cured my immediate health issues anyway.
I think it’s the sitting down that kills you. I packed in the office job early to do less sitting down.
I’m sure your village would have been called Pewton Mensey if it was a few miles more west.
Yes the pictures I’ve seen suggest a lovely little town.
Drink responsibly Stanley
Martin, I think you are right; it is the sitting down that kills you. I head this on a radio programme, sometime last year, although I can’t remember the context. Fortunately my current job allows me to walk around on a regular basis, and I also go for a walk most lunchtimes. I do just over a mile, not much by your standards, but it gives me a bit of exercise before getting back to my sandwiches and a cup of tea. I really enjoy being out in the fresh air and getting away from the factory, and the rural setting of my workplace adds to my enjoyment.
Paul – a mile at lunchtimes is worthwhile I think, particularly in the fresh air. Have a listen to this 10 minute clip on Radio 4 More or Less programme recently (2 minutes in). All about alcohol risk and inactivity risk.
No,it was deffo Penton Mewsey.
The local pub,in an idyllic setting opposite the cricket green,was The White Hart.
There was a very good freehouse nearby called The Weyhill Fair but I see it’s now a Fullers pub.
I shall pop and see Penton for myself then when I visit nearby Goodworth Clatterford, sure these names are all the residents !
Presume Fullers took on Gales and Greene King took on Marstons.
I also rather liked The Walnut Tree as it’s now called in nearby Appleshaw but tbh it’s 15 years since I lived in the area so memories are a bit hazy.
Some fine walking country around there.
If you’re a little further West I’d recommend walking along the Woodford Valley between Amesbury and Salisbury along the River Avon with a lunch stop somewhere like the Wheatsheaf in Woodford.Considering it’s so close to Stonehenge the area is virtually untouched by the hordes of tourists descending on the monument.
There’s a Travelodge at Amesbury and good bus services connecting the two places and Salisbury is a cracking little city to explore with the Haunch of Venison pub an absolute corker.
Thanks Stanley good tip. I ‘ll visit the Woodford Valley and write about it. Normally we can stay in Salisbury (Sarum College) before music fest so can vouch for the mummified hand & other attractions.
I see it’s “rugby beers” season at Spoons; worse, if possible, than “Christmas beers” season.
Good point. I’m anti-Rugby Union, as you might expect, but pretty much all those sub 5% specials fill me with horror.
Never see people ordering them in Spoons, OAPs stick to the brands.
Thanks for the link to the Radio Four programme, Martin. It sort of reinforces what I thought both about moderate drinking (it’s a lot less harmful than many other things), and moderate exercise (particularly avoiding sedentary behaviour), being beneficial.
I shall therefore continue to drink moderately and take my regular lunchtime walks!