Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed I didn’t score the Batham’s in the wonderful Vine.

Don’t read anything into that; it was Good (NBSS 3+), fully deserving of its GBG place.

It’s just the beer next door was even better.

Shock winner in the Brierley Hill shoot-out

I doubt you’ll be following me to the Black Horse though.

A friendly, modernised, opened-out fun pub with Jamie Vardy on every screen, unidentifiable R’n’B from every speaker, and everyone seemingly drinking Carling (except the pre-teens, I add for legal reasons).

Lots of Black Country pubs have this family atmosphere, but often they’re a bit more unspoilt.


It’s actually Guide entries like this that give you confidence in the GBG.  The only reason this is in the Guide is because the beer is good, and here the Enville was superbly smooth and tasty (NBSS 3.5+).

Mainly Carling though

Google Maps said 1 hr 20 to my final GBG West Mids tick, which suddenly seemed a lot after that cheese cob.

Lower Gornal

Brierley Hill is no Venice, but then Venice is dirty and smelly and overpriced.

And really, are there many views better than this in the world after 3 pints.

Elegant Delph

The other Brierley Hill highlights are more modest.

Art shot
Real Black Country

If only I’d resisted the cobs I could have had Mandy’s tasty plaice.

Looks a bit quiet

Just out of Brierley Hill, it suddenly gets dark.  Really quick.

So dark that the walk through the former mines at Pensnett was a bit scary.  It’s amazing how you find vast areas of wilderness in the most built-up areas.  Makes for good comfort breaks though.

But then suddenly the bright lights of Lower Gornal greeted me like old friends.


Somehow, I resisted the Bull’s Head and kept walking uphill.

15 thoughts on “THE ROAD TO LOWER GORNAL

  1. Manyoo West Ham on April 13th ?
    By ‘eck lad,you’ve got some catching up to do.
    I was just beginning my Mexico adventure then and I can’t remember a thing except what I’ve written on these pages.
    And actually that’s why I do my little travelogues.
    Those and the dated pictures on my ‘phone are the only way I know which continent I’m on.
    Or,in the case of that dodgy shrimp,incontinent.
    I thang you once again.,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mention of locks and canals reminds me that Brewood, on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, was where most locks were manufactured but with the coming of railways as a more efficient transport system the industry moved to Willenhall.


  2. Again, thank you for the canal porn!
    Those are the Nine Black Delph Locks…except that they were rebuilt as only eight in 1858…hence the name of the Banks’s pub at the bottom The Tenth Lock! (Although they are impressive, the Bingley Five Rise is even more so…amazing what engineers could do 200+ years ago!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Those locks clearly illustrated the point we discussed on here a couple of years ago about how locks on narrow canals very often (but not always) have one gate at the top and two at the bottom.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is true for many canals, but much of the Birmingham Canal Navigation has one gate at both top and bottom. The Southern section of the Stratford Canal is similar, but the Northern part has two gates at the bottom. These are the only examples i can think of pretty much everywhere else is one top gate two bottom ones on the narrow canals.


  4. “It’s actually Guide entries like this that give you confidence in the GBG. The only reason this is in the Guide is because the beer is good” –Interesting to me, this bit. So you’re glad that the GBG remains focused 100% on the beer, and doesn’t allow any other aspects to factor into its standards?

    I mean, I know the beer matters to you, but the people and the service and so forth also matter to you, right? But I suppose they’ve got to choose one or the other, or the evaluation process becomes impossibly muddled.


    1. The people and service and proper seating matter to ME.

      But they mustn’t matter to the Beer Guide. It’s not the job of the GBG to guide you to the best or scariest or most beautiful pubs. That’s the job of Life After Football and Duncan and Si etc.

      Every time I see a dull pub with well kept beer my heart soars.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. But sometimes breadth of range or obscurity of beer seem to be placed ahead of beer quality. And it’s very rarely a stark choice between “poor pub, good beer” and “good pub, poor beer”.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s spot on.

        The point I made to Mark is that I don’t want local branches to consider the pub, or the people or the number of pumps. I want them to make as objective an assessment of beer quality as they can.

        Stockport do that, far as I can see. So do Cambridge, and Reading and clearly Dudley. If that means a Hungry Horse with too Greene King IPA makes it ahead of a bustling free house, well that’s what the GBG is there for.

        I also think it’s why some people complain about the “best pubs” not being in the Guide. The 3 Stags Heads in the Peak District may be a classic but the beer was awful when I visited, and it dropped out of the Guide that year

        Liked by 2 people

      2. What Stockport (and I suspect most of the other branches you mention) do is actually subtly different . We use the NBSS scores to establish a (pretty high) benchmark for consistent beer quality, but then allow the members to choose from the pool of eligible pubs, when they may use other criteria apart from the raw NBSS score. We would never select a pub that didn’t have a track record of consistently good quality, but the selection isn’t identical to the top 20 pubs with the best NBSS scores. NBSS scores are only as good as the people submitting them, and sometimes can be distorted by favouritism, especially with less visited pubs.

        Liked by 2 people

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