One of the joys of a new Good Beer Guide, when it’s released, is exploring the large scale map to find out where on earth places such as Ynyshir and how do I get there when they only open after the buses have finished for the year. Throw in odd railway station labelling and it’s all fun.  If you’re a weird middle-aged male who doesn’t watch Great British Bake off, anyway.

To get to Wendens Ambo, you have to take the train to Audley End, which itself is a big house on the edge of Saffron Walden.  The Fighting Cocks is 2 minutes from the station, on one of England’s finest B roads. IMG_20160912_140921.jpg

You can pretty much rely on well-kept beer in neat, traditional pubs in Essex, though it’s a county short of real classics. And so the Fighting Cocks gives you a chatty barmaid, cool Jack Spitty from Colchester Brewery (NBSS 3), pool playing tradesmen and a floral display my Dad would appreciate.

The walk into Saffron is very attractive, taking me past Simon Everitt’s ancestral home at Audley End.

Saffron Walden itself is outstanding, though I was still surprised to see a fair number of tourists admiring the stained glass in the underrated parish church.  It’s not a place I’ve ever seen getting the visitors it deserves.


The streets around St Mary’s are some of the finest in the country, and since everyone here works in the City of London you can take photos to your heart’s delight.


Even the Polish deli is pargeted in Saffron. A clear day really brought out the colours in the buildings, including a library almost as good as the one in Peckham.

327 Ruth Rendell books on display

Unfortunately the good weather also brought out the shorts and polo shirts set, carrying their bottles of Bolly to the turf maze behind castle.  The castle itself has seen better days, but it will hopefully return as the micropub the town needs (on the basis all towns need micropubs) following refurbishment.

The town’s pubs certainly need competition; they represent solid old England their best and worst.  The coaching inns along the main road survive the traffic quite well; the two smaller Beer Guide regulars press on unchanging, ever-present in the GBG for what seems like decades.

That said, the King’s Arms is pubby and peaceful, and the Adnams would have been decent but for the usual problem.

The Old English Gentleman is cut from the same cloth, though with a more mature afternoon crowd who fitted the pub’s name well.


A similar beer range (Adnams, Wherry, Humpty Dumpty) to the one you’d have got 20 years ago, which is fine, as was the Humpty Dumpty.  Probably not enough cask custom in either pub for four pumps on a Monday, but I can’t have it all ways.  All day openers are rare enough these days.

From a look at WhatPub, nothing new here at all, and a very traditional café scene as well. Saffron is a wine town, which is why it’s got an Adnams Wineshop.  The promised beer on draft was no more, so I made do with a present for Mrs RM.  10%, she hated it.

IMG_20160912_205025 (5).jpg

 And if you think there’s no call for craft here, there’s a chap older than me who makes regular trips from here to the Pint Shop in Cambridge for his Wiper and True. Folk here can afford craft.


  1. I spot 4 possibilities; the glass, no people, food is served and no carpet. I may be mixing bloggers preferences with these four, but I go with no people(peaceful is a clue?,could mean no piped music).


    1. Simon ! From the manor born Dave. If you read his blog closely you’ll see he knows where to place his apostrophes, a clear sign of the landed gentry, as his insistence on only drinking pints and the red shoes. Sure Tom will confirm.


      1. Or maybe I should first ask for an explanation of the Bradford comment…(As if it really matters to me where I drink cask ales in the UK.)


  2. Martin, a question about the glass if I may. The slightly bulbous bit at the bottom appears to contain beer. Is this an optical illusion? If not, this would impede flow of beer from the bottom, probably making it even worse than a normal straight glass.

    I’ve never been admitted to the Everitt domain, so I can’t comment on it. As an antidote to the correct apostrophes though, it is worth noting he doubles his ‘s’ in the middle of ‘buses’.


    1. The bulbous bit does contain beer, and your hypothesis about impairment of taste appeals to me.

      You’ll remember I commented on busses, but that was considered correct in the 19th century, and would have been common usage among Simon’s servants.


      1. Would the abbreviation from omnibus to bus have been considered acceptable in the 19th century though? I suppose that is the sort of thing likely to have been started by lazy servants.


  3. I agree with the glass point of view. If I wanted a funky glass like that I’d drink Lager or even Kwak. Give me a straight glass any day or even a tulip shaped third glass which is what I use at home more than often with bottled beers.

    Liked by 1 person

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