Leaving Derbyshire, I can now bring you back into the 21st Century with reports from my Scottish trip with Charles, the “Meisterdrinker of Dereham“.
This was our route (A-C), as straight as you could hope for, except for the exciting diversion at Junction 56 on the A1, as the slip road to the B6275 is being merrily dug up.
I’d been reading Roger Protz’s new book on the Great North Road, a beautifully illustrated tour of the A1 that features a fair number of inns I’ve never been in, always a bonus in a book on pubs. I’m bound to come back to it as I attempt to conquer North Yorkshire this summer.
The George in Piercebridge is, to a lesser extent, as iconic a coaching inn as it’s namesake in Southwark.
Here’s why people come here;
A quick look confirmed an attractive but rather old fashioned hotel populated by Darlington’s gentle folk, enjoying decently priced Sunday lunch.
Of course, we weren’t drinking there with a new Beer Guide pub in the village.
After a 4 hour drive with only 3 “comfort breaks” (old age), we owed Piercebridge a quick look.
I would guess the number of OAP visitors and bon vivants from Darlington exceeded the permanent population of 113, most of whose windows we stared through in the course of 45 minutes.
A honeypot, just a very small one.
As we crossed the new bridge, Charles chatted to a lady sitting by the bank staring into the Tees.
“Is it exciting ?”
“It is for me Pet, it’s a fish”
Our only “Pet” of the trip, worth the 240 mile trip alone. The old Roman bridge wasn’t.
The highlight was the 17th Century gallows (below), used to despatch folk from Middlesbrough who had neglected to eat their daily parmo. Some design faults were in evidence.
Either that or it was an austerity play area.
We could tell what the Fox Hole was going to be like before entering, just by looking at the cars in the carpark. “Luvvies“, said one of us.
A recently refurbished place, given over almost entirely to upmarket casual dining, but with the two local beers on that no-one will have heard of. As far from Darlington’s marvellous boozers as you could fear to go.
Tellingly, we had to move round to the other bar to see what the beers were, squeezing past a birthday group that were having problem sitting down. Displays of open affection should never be seen in a public house. A firm handshake will suffice.
The Consett Blast looked the part, beautifully presented in a Mithril glass. A shame it was a bit “first out of the pumps” and lacking coolness..
On the other hand, the food looked top quality, and I’m fairly sure they had those beers for dogs on the bar.
Not the best start, but the next stop would turn out to be not only my 10,000th GBG pub, but also quite wonderful.