Two days at home then off on Sunday to Durham, a trip which will culminate in this…
Be very excited, Bass fans.
But first, I went chasing waterfalls,
and the end of the Durham chapter of the Beer Guide. Every week brings a new county to a close these days.
My sixth trip up to Scotch Corner this year, and my 3rd attempt to visit Café 1618 in Middleton-on-Tees, the ideal base for exploring Teesdale. Ideal not for proximity to High Force, but because it’s got a proper ironmonger, scones and cream, and parking for your motorbike behind the Victorian cherub.
My mind immediately went back to the summer of ’75.
Chris Spedding, famed for playing with the Vibrators and punk rock icons the Wombles in the same year, came from Staveley, not far from Matlock Spa.
There’s a touch of the Spa town about Middleton; swamped by bikers and folk willing to pay £20 for a porcelain meerkat dressed as Lewis Hamilton.
Café 1618 was on a hiding to nothing, having notoriously failed to be open when the GBG said it would be not once but twice, with what we tickers call “owner-friendly opening hours”. The website is now a sort of prospectus for potential buyers, with no indication of trading, let alone opening hours.
But, fool as I am, I tipped up anyway, and was slightly
miffed delighted to find it open.
Particularly with such a tremendous range of beers.
No, one beer suits me. What I struggled with was the obstacle course on the way to the bar.
The lady held her hand out expectantly tome, before turning to ask “How much is it ?”
I could have guessed it was £1.50, it’s virtually a micro isn’t it ? The loo was the tiniest I’ve ever been in. But they were playing “Walk of Life” by Dire Straits, so it can’t be a micro, can it ?
Outside, the Tow Law Hells Angels were ordering their Americanos “with a bit of milk. On the siiiiide“.
I was the only one braving the Daleside, which beer bores would deduce had diacetyl notes. I noted a hazy head (NBSS 1.5).
Still, I won’t have to do it again, and the walk along the Tees was rather wonderful, though I never did get to High Force.
Until I suddenly realised the footpath was gone, and had to sneak through the sewage works back to civilisation. A good start.