Interesting series of Twits* about Leek last night, kicked off by this,
reminding me to write up our mini-trip to “The Queen of the Moorlands“, or “Eastern Stoke” if you like.
Leek is a wonderful town, scoring highly in the three important areas of hills, pubs and cakes. Oddly, I’ve rarely spent much time on the first of those, perhaps because the town has only just itself some decent budget hotel options. Not that Premier Inn are that budget anymore, it’s £98 to stay there this Saturday.
You really need to stay at least once, there’s a great curry house (Naz) where our teenage son had his first midnight Balti a few years ago. You never forget your first midnight Balti.
I bet if Leek were moved brick-by-brick to the west of Birmingham it would be more appreciated, but then that’s true of much of North Staffs. In the sun, it looks as compelling as a Bridgnorth, Beverley or Stamford, with the pubs the big draw.
The pedestrianised shopping area is, for my money, the joint best in the country (Deal pipped it to the best High Street title, but that’s no disgrace).
There are places that seemingly just sell buckets,
though actually Mrs RM popped in their to get power tools on a previous trip. An angry woman can’t have too many power tools.
Those buckets come in handy when carrying home the massive meringues from Pronto on Sheep Street, one of the most enticing little delis outside of Shrewsbury. Only 850 calories in each of those beauties.
The shopping is that rare blend of useful and slightly upmarket that only a few places like Shropshire’s finest towns manage. I don’t include the many antiques shops in that assessment. And of course it has the Staffordshire essentials;
Leek does cosy pubs better than almost anywhere.
GBG newbie the Earl Grey is one of those classic small multi-room beer houses, part Olde Vic, part Coopers Tavern in feel, and again a pub that would be raved about 20 miles north or south of here for its range and quality.
The now traditional opening times of 3pm apply midweek, but of course there were already a couple in when I turned up on the dot.
That half of Whim house beer is the best of theirs I’ve had in years, full-bodied and cellar cool (NBSS 3.5) for a mere £1.40.
Pubs aren’t about the beer though, they’re about contentment and chat, and the bants here was about the quality of news reporting and self-aggrandisement. If Mrs RM hadn’t been buying buckets, she’d have enjoyed that debate.
A higher class of pub quiz was clearly on the cards too, with Rosencrantz and Guidenstern being one of the answers. (Five points – What was the question ?).
The less said about”Twanging my banjo” man, the better.
Whim and Brass Castle are all well and good, but it’s Bass you want. The Fountain (top) is one of the perfect places to drink Bass (NBSS 3.5), even if Mrs RM got badly distracted by the Jaipur.
We had to walk past pubs owned by Whim, Titanic and Joules, as well as a new Spoons, micro pub and this place that appealed to Mrs RM’s Evil Craft Keg sensibilities.
Even the Italian café had cask on. It’s all change here.
Just one problem. Only space for three pubs in the GBG. I’d never comment on Staffs Moorlands selection policy; I don’t drink there all the time so quality may be inconsistent, but I’ve had beer between NBSS 3 and NBSS 4 in another dozen pubs over recent years. A small town with limited tourist trade just can’t compete when it comes to GBG allocations.
*Just to confirm, I’m not the bloke who celebrated their 27,000th beer tick in the Earl Grey. It was my 9,788th GBG pub though.