Nowadays children at Cottenham Village College get to go to China, Berlin and Peterborough for their expensive research trips into modern beer production. Back in ’78 it was Ilam Hall or nothing. I remember the highlight was being allowed to stay up to watch the Home International highlights with teachers well beyond 10pm.  I presume it’s safe to admit that now.

The Manifold Valley always seemed to have fairly modest pleasures compared to the Dark Peak around Glossop, and the absence of Thor from his cave remains a disappointment.


The walks are as unspectacular as the pubs between Buxton and Ashbourne either side of the A515, which have remained stubbornly out of the Beer Guide over the years. The Quiet Woman at Earl Sterndale and Sycamore at Parwich, for example, are both squeezed out this year, presumably by the arrival of craft and micros up the road. As I never tire of saying, I trust local CAMRA to pick the best beer for the GBG.

There’s two distinct types of pub round here. A very basic and unchanging local, often with limited hours, and a full-on gastropub operation.  You can’t assume the better beer and range comes from the former.

Wetton’s Royal Oak is clearly in the former category, though their black pudding sausage is my idea of gastro.  I clearly had to pick the Hartington IPA, though as at Lichfield it had a slightly astringent taste I didn’t quite get on with. The pub and its folk music choice was very much to my taste, and no, it’s not too early to have a proper fire blazing away.

Name the other two

Service and seating are old-school, though we can argue about the cushions.  Nothing flash here (that’s 12 miles north). Being warmly thanked on the way out after dropping in for a quick half is rare these days too.

Proper seating

At the other end of the scale, and the valley, the Old Dog is one of the smartest places I’ve been in, but at least it wasn’t reserved for diners (No Bookings at all in fact).  Some home decoration ideas for Mrs RM here.

Image result for old dog thorpe
Old Dog – Mudgie-approved sheepskin throws, possibly

The area round the bar was a pubby enough spot to enjoy a very rich Alton Black Hole (NBSS 3.5) that warranted the branch POTY award on beer quality.  Tasteful jazz here, if that’s not a contradiction.


The one thing these two were missing on a sunny weekday lunchtime were customers; just a couple of diners in both of them, despite plenty of cars and walkers about.

Use them or lose them, even in the Peaks.

23 thoughts on “MANIFOLD CONTRASTS

  1. We had a wonderful lunch once at the Sycamore in Par. Beautiful day with the sun shining. Seemed a well managed establishment. My idea of what a village pub should be.


      1. Not yet on Castle Donington. Will use new clue. The cynical part of me wants to say what is missing at the Dog is good taste with the evidently recent remodeling.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Where is the Old Dog, btw?

    Incidentally, on my legendary Stockport pub crawl last Wednesday with Paul Mudge (with whom I am sometimes confused), he was saying that he’d recently been in the Sycamore and found it strangely deserted on a Sunday lunchtime.


    1. Old Dog is a couple of miles east of Ilam at crossroads for Tissington/Ashbourne. Used to be Dog & Partridge which is probably how it still shows on maps.

      Interesting about the Sycamore, not really a dining pub and seemed to be relying on trade from the village store when I was there a few years ago, wen the Unicorn was very good.


      1. I have been in four micro pubs this weekend,all had about four of five real ales on,but i would prefer The Sycamore in Parwich any day over those,a good pint of Robinsons Bitter and in the winter months Old Tom on the bar in a barrel,which went down a treat,not sure if they still do it,but if not it would be a shame.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Paul Mudge was refused a pint of Old Tom in the Baker’s Vaults in Stockport last Wednesday. Presumably they saw who he was with and thought “oh no, it might kick off at any minute” 😉


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