When you think you’ve seen it all, along comes Simon Everitt with a January Sunday night in a Croydon Travelodge. But as a base to do visit rural pubs in Buckinghamshire. Really, my admiration knows no bounds.
I can’t even pretend that a crafty night in Swaledale can compete with Penge and Chorleywood, but if anything the clientele in the old-school inns along the Coast-to-Coast walk are much scarier than the hikers in the Dog & Bull.
The Dales are surprisingly quiet at this time of year, with the grey pound presumably holed up in the chic hotels and micropubs of nearby Middlesbrough. So the OAP couples that are left in Reeth and Leyburn are a hardy lot, conserving their energy by stoically not talking to each other in the Buck. They obviously thought I was Simon and didn’t want to incriminate themselves.
The Buck is the Beer Guide entry from the three handsome pubs standing in a row along the green. Reeth really did look the business on a dry, cloudy day, whatever my photos imply now. The pub interior was old-school attractive too, beams and beermats and blazing fires. Unusually good value lunches too.
The beer, Wensleydale Gamekeeper was superbly kept here (NBSS 3.5), and the landlord gains points for topping up the beer and turning up the music to cover up the awkward silences. A ’60s soundtrack of Little Eva and Del Shannon overpowered some burbling conversation about socks that Si might have picked up on his Sony Pro tape recorder.
WhatPub notes the surprisingly big artists the Buck gets, but they’re surpassing themselves in February.
Perhaps while Celine is there she can fix the sign on the Black Bull;
Just along the Swale, Grinton’s Bridge Inn is similarly cheery, though with a Monday break from cooking it was rather quieter.
Five points for working out what’s going on a’top the roof.
A chatty young landlord again knew how to keep his beer, in this case the Marston’s New World (NBSS 3.5). The other local didn’t get the attention he was looking for;
Top beer quality for a quiet Monday lunchtime.
The stretch along Whipperdale Bank down to Leyburn is apparently MOD shooting ranges, but that may just be a ruse to scare off cyclists, as it’s as peaceful as it gets in the Dales.
Years ago, we visited Leyburn on a day when it felt like the busiest place on earth, something to do with model railways no doubt. At the end of a drab January it was quiet and functional, all cobbles and cycling signs.
And that most wondrous of sights;
John Smiths is only behind Bass, Cloudwater and Plum Porter as the beer I’d go for, all things being equal (which they rarely are). The John’s in the Golden Lion was malty and satisfying, if a tad above cellar-cool.
But it would have been worth the price of a pint of NBSS 1 Doom Bar to enjoy 20 minutes of classic Dales old bloke fussing. Fuss about the lack of chips, shaving, and getting the paint off the carpets. They’d clearly absconded without the Mrs’ permission.
“Don’t look at the clock Mike, you’re in the pub”
“Be cheery. if you can’t be cheery in the pub, there’s no point coming out is there ?”
“I might just stay for four pints Mike”
They obviously thought I was Simon and wanted to incriminate themselves.
And to cap it off, “Real Gone Kid” at audible volume. Ten points if you can find the thread from that to this post.