My last Beer Guide entry for Greater Manchester was in Leigh. I always save the best Manc tick till last, except for the time I had to go to Walkden.
Leigh doesn’t make a natural weekend break, but while Mitchells & Butler ran their Innkeepers Lodge in Lowton at bargain rates (£59.90 for 3 nights including breakfast) we often stayed close enough to do it justice.
I can recommend it purely on the basis of Pennington Flash, even for non twitchers. It’s one of Wigan’s endless supply of great country parks, with a surprising feel of wilderness and a complete lack of real ale nearby, though the Nevison puts it on in the Summer.
Leigh itself has more modest attractions, more than enough redbrick buildings for a decent stroll, and a small art gallery that makes an effort.
I made my usual request to nose around the town hall too; some attractive windows but better on the outside. As was the imposing parish church.
There’s some stately pubs across the road from the church, notably the red brick Boar’s Head, whose Walker’s livery may invoke nostalgia among some Woolybacks.
I found this place more than a bit “lively” a few years back, but it’s recently changed ownership and gone family-friendly (apparently).
Just as cosy is the White Lion, Leigh’s premier real ale pub, with bargain Allgates and a superb interior.
The George and Dragon had the now standard bargain beer (a half of Blond Witch was £1.05, NBSS 3), an interior closer to Last Orders than Boar’s Head, and a dozen TV tuned in to the
Budget Cheltenham horseracing.
This was my ninth Beer Guide pub here over the years, and one of the best. It was refreshing to see a pub so busy mid-week, helped by prices on a par with a decent Spoons and a great atmosphere.
A decade ago the Musketeer became Manchester’s Pub of the Year before some unfortunate changes. It would be great to see a proper community local like the George & Dragon win wider plaudits, but I doubt it needs them.
Add in the Spoons and you have four good pubs in a row serving decent beer in decent buildings at close to £2 a pint. It’ll never catch on.
NB As one of the largest towns without a station, the investment to at least improve the bus route into Manchester is long overdue. Can’t find much out about it on TfGM website though.