I used to dread trips into the Chilterns to see my Grandparents as a child. If only I’d been able to visit the pubs along the Grand Union as an 11-year old for pre-emptive ticks, I’m sure I’d have had more fun than the trips to Ashridge Monument or Dunstable Co-op for Golden Nuggets.
Peter Allen’s excellent blog is the most comprehensive record of canal-side pubs I’ve seen. I don’t know if he’s visited the Aylesbury arm of the GUC, but the canalside pubs round here seem a lot less fancy and food-driven than you might expect. Still not a good idea for walkers to bring their own sandwiches to eat in the pub though.
I warmed up with a walk from Aylesbury, and some amateur ornithology. This is the bird that stopped still for me.
The theory of walking along canals is better than the practice, unless there’s lots of uphill walking (e.g. Delph). This was quite flat.
Wilstone has the added draw for oldies of its own reservoir, round which a group of overdressed ramblers were trudging in the drizzle. Sensing they were counting down the minutes to the opening of the Half Moon, I put on a sprint.
The pub is exactly the sort of Little Old England you want, immaculate and cheery, with fresh flowers and a sense of “You can eat if you want, but we’re a pub“.
Being first in the pub brings all sorts of dangers (where to sit, has someone just died, will the beer be pulled through).
Top marks to the happy young lady who pulled through plenty of my ubiquitous Tring Side Pocket, a beer that was cool and full-bodied on the first session of the week. Plenty of chat, mostly about impending End of Times weather.
Luckily that was nonsense, and I made it the two miles to Cheddington, and an altogether different proposition.
The Old Swan is a posh dining pub in a relatively affluent village, where the locals’ accents would make Mrs RM sound common. Gents in blazers drank huge glasses of wine, and recounted their big shopping trips for clothes. The fascination with payment cards suggested credit has just been invented. And perhaps it has here. I’m not sure cash has arrived in Eaton Bray* yet.
Tables were set for dining, which I confess looked very good.. I had a tolerable (but cheap) Vale on a posing table, and contemplated whether the (even cheaper) Cottage is the new Archers.
*No offence to Eaton Bray. We spent our honeymoon there. A great night, the Benskins in the Hope & Anchor was NBSS 4.