Pub Curmudgeon has visited as many great pubs as anyone I’ve met, and I recall him praising the King’s Arms in Dorset’s Wareham a few years back.
This is a particularly attractive small town, bypassed en route to Corfe Castle and the Purbeck coast, which might explain why I’d never been before. The ten minute train journey there around Holes Bay was worth the ticket price alone.
Wareham reminded me a bit of Sandwich, a small prosperous town with a good walk round the mounds that made up its Saxon walls, a pleasing high street and superb church.
Immediately opposite the station are the remains of a terrific looking dead pub, but most of the town’s pub were very much alive.
The star is the King’s Arms, local pub of the year and reasonably busy after the lunch trade. This is a classic multi-roomed drinkers pubs that was easy to relax in; some of the locals were a little too relaxed for 3pm.
Local banter centred around the number of shopping days to Christmas, Rachel Riley v Carol Vorderman (Carole is better on maths, apparently), Essex girls, and a capella renditions of “Whisky in a Jar“. Probably your sort of pub too.
I was a bit disappointed that Skinners seemed to have taken Ringwood’s place on the bar, but it was about as good a Betty Stoggs as you could hope for, in a model glass.
If pushed, I wouldn’t put it in the same bracket as nearby Sherborne’s Digby Tap, either for beer or unique atmosphere, but I’d love it for my local. No pub cat obvious but some cat art to compensate.
All of the pubs looked decent in an affluent market town sort of way, though most customers were down by the quay, which could have done without the car park but was otherwise a lovely spot for idling.
The Quay Inn itself looked like a nondescript dining pub but was much better than that. The barmaid made the effort to get me a half of the Isle of Purbeck from the barrel in the cellar, rather than just saying “it’s gone, we’ve got Landlord“, as many would have done. The whole place lacked pretension, including the food.
With more time/capacity I’d have been happy to try any of the other five pubs, including the recommended Duke of Wellington.