Before recent sad events I’d never heard of the Spen Valley, the collective name for the cluster of Kirklees villages between Bradford and Dewsbury. It must be hard work in Tourist Offices in Cleckheaton, Heckmondwike and Drub. Surely the names alone sell the place ?
You might think Bradford is the UK curry capital,but it’s Cleckheaton which has the biggest Indian restaurant in the world,though Aakash isn’t quite as good as Mumtaaz in Great Horton.
If I’m honest there’s not much else here. The birthplace of Danny Cadamarteri sadly lacks a blue plaque, and the only thing that jumped out was the Lion Bar factory. Sadly there were no Cadbury-style tours on Saturday, or brass band rehearsals to gatecrash (I’d need to have walked to Brighouse for that).
There’s not a lot to the centres, which are clumsily pedestrianised in that way you find in the smaller Glamorgan towns, except here carpet shops outnumber suntan parlours.
Some great pubs though, none better that the Black Bull in Liversedge. This was the first place I tasted Excelsior a decade ago, in a typical West Yorkshire boisterous multi-roomer that recalls the Big 6.
Cleckheaton doesn’t have an Ossett pub, but the Rose & Crown is a newbie with a similar atmosphere. It was more boisterous than my photos imply; lots of £2.60 pints were being carried out to a characterful smoking area. Worryingly the £2.60 pint of choice seemed to be Ellands 6.5% Porter. Their homebrew pale was enough for me (NBSS 3.5).
Cleckheaton’s Wetherspoons isn’t in the Guide but the Excelsior there was first class, as was Spoon’s new Rarebit Burger. I hope it gets in the GBG, as Simon Everitt will love it. All human life is here. The Spoons “offer” was more enticing than that from the (recent-GBG) Commercial.
Finally, it wasn’t worth the walk for the beer (more disappointing Tim Taylor), but there was one last gem in Spen. Plenty of Bass livery, very little Bass.