The greater the progress with completing the Beer Guide, the harder it gets.  In the early stages you have the joy of towns and cities with multiple entries, most notably a half dozen Robinson’s pubs in Stockport in 2002.

As my crib sheet shows, not many of those left;

crib sheet

The real surprises on that list are tiny Totnes, Aberdare and Kilmarnock.   For the first time ever, no Bristol, but still loads in Plymouth, wherever that is.

The real bonus this year is Marple.  Three new entries within ten minutes walk of the railway station, and you can see the gleaming spires of Stockport on a clear day, smiling at you over the local CAMRA branch border.

Proper map

Back in 2002 Marple seemed incredibly alluring to a Fen boy, with its locks, hills and pints of Unicorn.

Craft locks

The town always suffers a bit compared to the heritage village of Marple Bridge (coincidentally over the bridge), feeling like a typical South Manchester suburb with chain shops and uniform streets.

Two traditional Robbies pubs (Hatters Arms and the Railway) have now made way in the Guide for the near-inevitable modern bar and micro.

Nothing wrong with that; only beer quality should dictate what gets in the Guide.


Beer Traders feels closer to the Macclesfield or Heaton Chapel modern beer bar model than your Herne micro, with the sort of early evening crowd you might get in Heaton Hops, and a good range of local keg.

Beer Traders

A bit small for me in that “nowhere to hide” sense you get in micros, but good music, annoying cushions, and a Tickety Brew Golden for the standard £3 that I rated highly (NBSS 3.5). A worthy entry.

Beer mats – tick

Passing the Gingerbread House and Icing on the Cake you come to The Samuel Oldknow, a quirky place which was packed out at 4.30pm.

Samuel Oldknow, Marple
Top quality reading

A wider appeal here, with children in the back room and board games.  Very east London.


A curates egg, this one.  More good beer from Outstanding (though those German beers beloved of east Cheshire seem to hold sway). But I couldn’t find a table.  All the seating seemed to be on Tables for 4 or 6 which were  occupied by a couple of drinkers.

What’s the etiquette ?

Still, the bants of the day.  As “My Sweet Lord” came on, one chap quipped;

I wonder how George has got on with him now he’s up there

I think it was a quip.

Over the bridge and up the hill to the Spring Gardens, a sister pub to the estimable Hope.

Spring Gardens, Marple Bridge

The welcome here was exemplary, and immediately you know you’re in a proper pub. The Daily Mirror is the giveaway.


Well-off old boys drinking Berliner Pilsner, young lads drinking Carling, pub tickers wondering whether they can sustain so much cask.

Beer Board

The Fool Hardy Riptide “award winning !!” looked the part though,

That head !

and was close to nectar (NBSS 4.5).  My notes say “sherbert” and “Simcoe“,which may have been answers in Pointless for all I know.

It gets better.  Daddy Cool played, and I celebrated with a packet of Uncle Albert’s scratchings from Sheffield.  The subsequent crunching noise drew attention to me as a scratchings connoisseur.

Uncle Albert’s scratchings & NBSS 4 pint

Well done Fool Hardy, this is a gem.  And if you need your ration of Unicorn before catching the train back, this is just down the hill….


28 thoughts on “MISS(ING) MARPLE TICKS

  1. “village of Marple Bridge (coincidentally over the bridge)”
    As opposed to Marpleridge which is just up the ridge?

    “What’s the etiquette?”
    I thought the standard etiquette was to ask if you could use the other part of the table, or is that a regional/situational thing?

    And the Spring Gardens looks luverly (no disrespect to the others).


    PS – Love the “progress” photo. 🙂


  2. When you get round to Totnes I do recommend The Barrel House – and a spot by the window to watch the Crusties stroll by.Nice little boozer.
    If you can I’d also seek out a hidden gem in nearby Newton Abbott – Ye Olde Cider Bar.No beer on offer but oceans of cider in a strictly utilitarian old-school boozer.
    The changing fashions and hairstyles in the photographs of decades of annual charabanc outings are worth the trip alone.
    Ace scratchings too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for tips, Prof. Neither of those in the Beer Guide. Problem with Devon is it’s not somewhere I can make much inroads into on an overnight trip. When son 2 leaves for Uni or world domination in 2019 will be freed up a bit to do Devon and Scotland.


  3. On the couple of occasions I’ve been to the Spring Gardens, it’s been extremely quiet, although those were at lunchtimes so may not be representative. I have heard suggestions that Fool Hardy may have bitten off more than they can chew. I’d say ten minutes is a very ambitious walking time from there to Marple Station.

    Three pubs in Llandeilo is pretty impressive for such a tiny place – and I’ve been in one of them. However, one is 3 miles to the west at Pentrefelin which surely deserves its own entry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There were a dozen in there just after 5pm, and I guess Marple gets more folk in early evening than some. More lunchtime openers here than some places, too.

      Ten minutes is ambitious. It helps if you’re running and don’t stop for cars or Robinsons pubs. Google says 14.

      Re:Landeilo, the old issue of GBG labelling. Bet it features as a Pentrefelin entry next year.


  4. Doesn’t matter where you go or what time of year you go there’s always some tit dressed in shorts these days! What’s that all about? I mean there’s nothing wrong with shorts, but as with everything, there’s a time and a place. Is it something to do with the NW? I have noticed at Manchester airport a plethora of WM’s returning to UK still dressed in holiday attire (gaudy shirts, flimsy flip flops and flappy shorts). Maybe they believe that if you dress like you are on holiday then you are on holiday – even whilst sat in a dreary pub in that damp and drab corner of England to the West of GOC?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. People have a right to behave like tits. But it doesn’t stop them being tits. I’m with Richard on this one. And it’s often men of my own age who really should know better.


  5. I always think that Beer Traders looks like it should be in Chorlton rather than Marple. The Samuel Oldknow has been a huge success since it opened and seems perpetually busy – there is a very cosy room downstairs with more seats.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Looks like you’ll be taking the campervan to Devon, Dorset and South Wales next year then 😉

    Incidentally, I tried and failed to find any reasonably-priced accommodation in Dorchester.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I failed too. The Premier Inn was OK when it opened a few years back, but rarely under £80 now. The Kings Arms was run by Greenalls as a Premier Lodge in the 90s, a real bargain even without hot water 😉


      1. Try this place when in Dorchester – http://www.bandbdorchester.co.uk/ – £50 a night, free parking, 5 mins to the town centre and railway stations. Gary, the owner, is a top bloke and his breakfasts will fill you up for the rest of the day. I have never had a bad stay here !


  7. Nice to read about your views on these locations in my local area. Beer Traders and The Samuel Oldknow are useful counterpoints in the Microbar debate. They definitely each have their own followers locally and a very select band who can see the attractions of both. Beer is cheaper in the Oldknow and fewer people seem to being having a permanent romance with their mobile phones. I loved the idea of the Spring Gardens ( Hope Inn two ) but somehow it never seems to have any atmosphere. They might consider reducing the number of rooms available to bring such customers as they have closer together.

    And the guy in shorts? Perhaps an off duty postman , otherwise a tit as suggested. ( But there is little point in telling them. The Barfly in the Oldknow seems to be Kevin, esrtwhile local star of “Four in a Bed”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As you are a local you may be familiar with the gent of a certain age who seems to go in the Ring O’Bells in shorts in all weathers.


  8. Late to the party, as usual. My childhood home is on that map! (Guess the grid reference?) Not been back for long enough to visit many of the new micros around the area, but did manage to pop into the Chiverton at Cheadle Hulme again last week. Must try and visit Marple to visit my Nanna (guess the grid reference #2!?) and a pub or two!


    1. Every time you comment I remember I need to visit you, Chris. Mrs RM on assignment on the A68 (Melrose) so may be soon.

      I’ll unravel your puzzle when you get home. I know quite a few folk who link Durham and Stockport, oddly


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s