While Burton is unquestionably the place to spend a drunken evening (Bass or Joules carry-out into Balti Towers), the old mining villages of the National Forest have some of my favourite unpretentious pubs.

Nat Forest.PNG

I’ve written about Swadlincote and Ashby recently, and I ought to revisit the Three Horseshoes in Whitwick before it becomes an Ember Inn or something even worse.

My visit to the Black Lion in Blackfordby last week was both a first, and a bit irritating. It appears Mrs RM and I have whizzed past it at least twice on the A511 since its GBG debut in September (August for London readers), but failed to tick it.

I’d like to blame Mrs RM’s driving for this omission, but sadly it’s squarely down to my bad planning, and inability to look over the Leicestershire border when I’m finishing Derbyshire.   And the fact I coloured it in with pink pen by mistake.  Perhaps Duncan and Simon can sympathise. Perhaps some of you will think I should get a life.

Never mind.  It meant a third chance to see the UK’s best Art Deco garage at Woodville.


What a place.  The Bass pubs next door are wonderful too, though scandalously the Nelson appears to be Pedi only.  There are worse fates.

There’s worse places to organise a pub crawl too, with 20 pubs within a mile or so of that garage, most of them with cask, which seems an extraordinary success story.

A clue as to their success comes in this report from one of those pubs from The Wickingman, who found a well-run operation almost full on a Monday lunchtime recently.  It can be done.

Attractive Blackfordby has hills, wells and black & white beauty.


It has (it seemed from the boulders at the entrance to the Bluebell) lost one pub recently, so it’s a good job the Lion is such a classic all-rounder.

You can tell it’s an all-rounder by the music choice; John Denver followed the Pogues followed Dire Straits. These folk below were singing along to Annie’s Song in their best Derbyshire accent.


A classic jukebox, classic hand-pumps,and some unexpected variety on offer.


With a lot of Carling being sunk, it seemed a bit ambitious, and I’d have been happy with just Bass, which came with a thick creamy head and was a little sweet (NBSS 3).

I used the middle of three brilliantly furnished rooms, with TV sport to the right and music to the left. Village conversation centred on bricklayer recommendations, Eco cabins, and whether Messi was past it.  All vital stuff.

A proper pub.  In the National Forest I expect nothing less.


  1. A correspondent called Dan Bishop sent me a lot of photos of pubs in that area for my Closed Pubs blog, although sadly I haven’t heard from him for a while 😥


  2. Divert about ten minutes and there are two cracking boozers – in the proper sense – The Admiral Rodney in Hartshorne and the Swan Inn in Milton. I think The Swan was in GBG last year and Roger keeps a top class pint


    1. Both good, the Burton and NW Leics branches would have a lot more pubs in the GBG if this was somewhere more touristy.

      I missed your return to blogging, by the way. Are you on Twitter ?


  3. My Gt.Grandfather Joseph Storer of Packington (1835-1904) ran the Bluebell Inn, Blackfordby in the late 1880s. My Grandfather was born at the pub. I would dearly love to see any photographs of the pub in the late 1880s. It is sad to see it today. Guess the developer will pull it down and build houses on it.

    Val Roberts


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