I left the bustling centre to the youth, noting only for the record that the Moo Bar had closed before I had a chance to visit. I made a mental note to return to explore its replacement when I was past the point of no return, before heading north.
Carlisle Castle is a disappointment, at least from the outside, but adjacent Bitts Park, running down to the Eden, is rather gorgeous in the twilight.
Over the bridge, the suburb of Stanwix looks quite posh, like west Sheffield without the students, which makes the Crown & Thistle a real oddity.
A plain frontage, and an apparently plain pub with the bar front completely obscured. Seeing the words “Brews” I guessed at Brewsters (it was: I am beer expert) which completely bewildered the barmaid a) unused to Fen accents, b) unused to folk ordering beers by brewer rather than name.
Whatever it was, the Brewsters was very good indeed, cool and rich (NBSS 3.5).
A proper Northern (unsurprisingly) community pub that reminded me of the places round Cleethorpes Station where the whole street goes for a knees-up.
“Are we human, (wait), or are we dancerrrr”
It may not look like it, but you’ll rarely hear a crowd singing along as heartily to “Summer of ’69” and (especially) “Human” as this crowd were. Yesterday Robbie Williams, today The Killers, this blog is going to the dogs.
As I left, they were starting on the Kings of Leon.
I pressed on towards the prize, a clean sweep of Carlisle. The Spinners Arms in Cummersdale has been uppermost in my thoughts for successive Beer Guides.
For a start, why isn’t the pub shown under the village heading in the Beer Guide, rather than as part of Carlisle ? I’m happy to join the good burghers of Cummersdale in their protest, if there’s free beer.These are the sort of things that get obsessive pub tickers irate.
I toyed with the idea of taking a bus the 3 miles hike south, before realising it would cost me the price of a pint, and that it would be quicker to walk anyway.
Those 3 miles down the B5299 flew by (49 minutes), taking in business parks, cemeteries and Pirelli, whose social club looked surprisingly appealing at dusk.
The Spinners Arms is pretty much the only thing in Cummersdale, the quietest village in Eden.
A fairly plain and modernised pub, bar the ancient symbols carved on the outside walls that seem to date back to the arrival of the Ark in Carlisle some time ago.
With all the locals perched at the bar, I felt a bit of a late arrival myself (they were singing Happy Birthday as I came in), but their homebrew was a silky smooth stout (NBSS 3.5) that sort of made it worthwhile.
It was getting late now, even in the North, and I’d left myself a fairly long walk up a quiet stretch of field alongside the River Caldew. There’s better places to get beaten up and left for dead, in a field of cows by a graveyard in Carlisle.
I was pleased to reach the river crossing back into town,
which was still heaving as normal Sunday closing approached. As a lunchtime ticker, this is way past my bedtime.
Devonshire Street could be one of the new crafty streets in Middlesbrough, which is a GOOD thing. Places called Thin White Duke, Eaten by Monsters and Last Zebra are clearly more café bar than micro pub, but look a lot of fun.
The Fat Gadgie has just taken on the Moo Bar premises, so I nosed around, and was taken aback by the adventurous cask selection.
I feared the worst but that Moor Stout was silky and superb (NBSS 4), served in a proper beer glass and a beer mat. Beer of the day.
In Cambridge or Clapham, this bar would be full of young professionals. Here, as in Middlesbrough, it had a lovely mix of folk, including a couple of folk older than me sampling the Tiny Rebel at 10.30pm. A Mrs RM bar of the first order, if not perhaps a BRAPA one, but who knows.
So that was Carlisle. The Crown called, but I resisted.
And if all this isn’t enough to sell Carlisle to you, the crispy shredded beef from Yummy’s Chinese was the best of the year. Superb.
I’m saving up my next haircut ’till I can come back.
And if you need a morning Magners…