Just 17 minutes on the train from Aldershot, central Woking feels a different world. Not always a world I’d want to inhabit, with an athletics centre of a football ground and only a Spoons and a Social Club for Beer Guide company.
Type “Woking” into WhatPub and the first places you see are an O’Neill’s, a Slug, a Stonegate, a Spoons, a Pound Pub, TWO Embers and, of course, a wine bar. It may be prosperous, but you wouldn’t know it from the pubs.
To be fair, I recall a decent pint of Jaipur in an E***r Inn we stayed at for £2.49 a few years back, there’s a “lively nightlife”, and Horsell isn’t bad.
Despite the pink marker on my crumbling Navigator, it’s not an area I know as well as I ought to, so it was nice of the new GBG to give me a pleasant walk out to Knaphill for a new tick.
Almost anywhere in England is pleasant in our current patch of early Summer, of course, and Knaphill feels particularly pleasant around Bisley Hill.
Which, of course, you have entirely to yourself.
Until the sound of the shooting range reminds you of the efforts taken on our behalf to keep craft beer out of Surrey.
You don’t need craft beer, (whatever that is after the CAMRA AGM), when you have cask as good as the Proper Job in the Royal Oak. The Summer Lightning glass may even have improved it.
A fairly ordinary (except to our American readers) 17th century village pub, this one is all about the licensee(s). And not because Mark gave me 10p off a half, either. If Simon had been there, he’d have remarked on me as the old bloke counting out pennies.
I just felt welcomed into his pub, without being interrogated. “Give me a good score on WhatPub“, he quipped, the first publican ever to say that to me. It was a 4, by the way. Cellar cool and full of flavour, as good as the Proper Job I had in Camelford.
A fairly recent entrant into the pub trade, Mark was happy to chat beer quality (“Clean your lines !”), opening hours (“Open when you say you will, and for as long as you can”), the death of the lunch trade, and the rarity of a bad barrel of beer. This was the southern equivalent of Brad from the Furnace, and I have no higher praise. Pleasant company too.
An early Pub of the Year contender already, and an example of how the appeal of pubs is both simple and complex at the same time.
With it’s simple arcade of shops, Knapshill itself isn’t a honeypot village, but it’s no dormitory either. Stef’s Café is typical of this friendly place, offering a good coffee and (yes) homemade Eccles cake for £3. The Garibaldi looked a fair bet for future GBG honours, from a solid bunch of locals.
And their public toilets were still open despite Council cuts.