I’ve always wanted to use that headline, the name of a pointless walk through nothingness to Cambridge. Reading the 35 year history of the walk tells you quite a bit about Fenland pubs.
Far from walking, on Thursday night my sister and I took two rattling trains to March via Ely, while cousin Keith came in an even more exciting manner. “Thumbelina“(don’t ask) could convert you to the joys of the waterways, if not the Fens.
Keith’s vessel is a shrine to craft beer, but I was confident we could convert him to the joys of cask.
Promisingly, he’d moored up outside The Ship, March’s only Beer Guide entry, but a fairly consistent one over recent years.
Greene King signage, but a free house with Dark Star Hophead and a brown Woodfordes beer that we’d never seen before.
My Sis gave Keith a masterclass in NBSS scoring, before pronouncing both beers a 3, which I thought was a touch harsh. We settled on 3.5.
The beer was better than I expected on a Thursday night with a dozen locals in (we were March’s only tourists, ever). The pub was modernised but pleasant, with decent seating and beer mats already out. That’s almost enough these day. A 60p portion of peanuts that was still feeding Mrs RM a day later pushed this into super-pub territory.
A bloke in combat fatigues did a Norman Wisdom routine falling into the Gents, but it’s unwise to comment on other folks state of inebriation.
Our expectations for March were pretty low, and our main criteria for the night seemed to be (a) dark beer, (b) a curry and (c) something hilarious for the blog.
That first criteria went out the window as we passed the Griffin, which looked most un-March like with it’s tasteful lighting and gem of a foyer.
The beer range was vast and uninspiring, lacking the dark beer Sis craved. The interior was also vast and unispiring, but completely packed. My Dad was convinced a similar Stonegate dinery was a Wetherspoon last week, and this was also a Spoons clone.
I rated the Rev James quite good (NBSS 3), but I think the high tables and polite atmosphere coloured my sister’s less generous view. Having lived in Falmouth for a year, Sis’s expectations of beer quality are somewhat inflated. That’s the downside of a year drinking in the ‘front and HAND bar.
We resisted the charms of a few more “interesting” locals on the way to the Rose & Crown, which a decade ago was March. It was also shabbier than Stockport’s Olde Vic back then, at least externally. I was slightly disappointed to see it looking spick and span, though the windows at least survive.
This one was special. It had that feel of a community drinkers pub that places like the Dove and Pilot pull off so well. The quiz night clearly helped, as this place was bursting with drinkers of all ages.
I’d never criticise the absence of a pub from the Beer Guide on the basis of one fleeting visit; I’ll just tell you that the St Austell Bucket of Blood hit the spot for my fellow drinkers (NBSS 4 apparently). My beer of choice, which you’ll have to guess*, also brought back memories of Cornish flat beer heaven.
All trips to provincial market towns must inevitably end with curry night in Wetherspoons. Actually they really shouldn’t, particularly washed down with that Resin nonsense. Sis likes 13 Guns, and she has better taste in beer than I do.
So, unexpectedly high marks for March, as good a night out as you could hope for on an October Thursday in the east of England, though not quite Nuneaton. A decade or so ago it was all fried chicken shops, now it has a greater variety of takeaways. That’s progress.
Nuneaton doesn’t have windows with stuff like this in it though.
The long walk back to the station from the Spoons was uneventful, mainly because we chickened out of Keith’s pub recommendation – a point for identifying this one.
*Here it is