Harrogate cost me about £9 to get to, and it wasn’t worth it.

In fact the “pubs” were so dull I nearly skipped them completely, except for 3 reasons;

  1. US “Dave” Southworth will ask me about Harrogate in about 4 months time, and I’ll want to refer him back here,
  2. Something odd happened involving bar etiquette,
  3. And it gives me a chance to highlight BRAPA’s wonderful post from January, which contains this all-time classic shot of the Prosecco Express
Winner from BRAPA

You’ll understand I was keen on getting back to meet BRAPA in York, as stuff was bound to happen wherever he graced with his presence.

So I gave myself 44 minutes to leave Harrogate Station, pop my head in the Tap and use their superior loos, get two ticks AND some snacks including the word “artisan”.

Thank you, next

Even with the slouchiest teenagers in Yorkshire slowing my exit, all that walking only took 12 minutes.


It’s a remarkably compact town. And while some cities have seen the centres become virtual GBG-free zones (Nottingham, Cambridge for two), there’s a good dozen current or recent Guide pubs within 10 minutes walk of Bettys, the spiritual heart of town.

Simon is probably paid by York CAMRA to disparage Harrogate, and he certainly earns his money.

Dick and Dave may be surprised to hear that I’ve given FIVE (5) of the town pubs my coveted Gold star, and four of them were the newer bars. Beer quality has been high here over many Guides.

Things took a turn for the worse in North Bar.

Mark Crilley could probably have sketched this thru’ guesswork

Two more glass fronted shop conversions with big beer boards.

It can work.

Northern beers !

And I love North Bar Leeds, even if it’s unfashionable to say that.

It was very welcoming, even to smaller people.

Makes a change from high tables

Sadly, the beer looked rubbish.

You can tell, can’t you ?

Not vinegar, just what I politely called “end of the barrel” when I finally decided to take the Atom back, and wished I’d had the session beer;

Not sold by the pint, not even to Mrs RM

Well, the response was perfect. Apology, replacement without quibble, and a minute later the barman brought me over the pricedifference between the Atom and the house Pale. It was quite a few shillings, too.

Mudgie saw this in the Alexandra in Rugby last month, but it’s still worthy of note.

Suddenly, my spirits lifted, the bar filled up, the Pale scored a sherberty 3.5, I started to wish I took dull beer back more often (I won’t. Plants need watering).

Shadowy figures

Two minutes later I was in the Starling Independent Bar Café Kitchen, which has an outside chance of being recognised as the GBG entry with the longest name in the Guide if the Five Miles from Anywhere (No Hurry) drops out.

Oh good, another café converion

BRAPA was right about this one. Beardy pizza eaters.


Yes, Beardy Pizza Eaters were just one of the weird Indy bands being played; if I’d come for a flat black I’d have enjoyed it.


Indecisive youngsters cluttered the bar, bemused by the process of buying a beer at the pizza. I’ve seen James achieve this in Sheffield, so University has some purpose.

The Gents was out of order, the Brass Castle was a shadow of its true self (NBSS 2.5/3), but I nobly drank it.

No plant pots were harmed…

Not BAD, but I’ll not be going back. Not with Harrogate’s competition. But I’ll certainly be back in 2020, unless they get me first.


  1. Betty’s is definitely NOT the spiritual heart of Harrogate, it’s just where all the poxy visitors go to get ripped off. Harrogate is a fine place with fine traditions. Dear reader, please do not listen to Martin who is being naughty again.

    Sparrows is what it is, personally speaking, if I couldn’t get a seat downstairs i would be walking. Upstairs is soulless, like the cafe in BHS, and look what happened to them.

    North bar is a different subject. They have taken their eye off the ball and are concentrating on brewing and the tap room(s). Not had a decent pint of cask on Upper Briggate for a good while, they never have Transmission on – what’s all that about? Actually i know, but it’s not for telling here.


      1. I was amused to read on another discussion forum a reference to “Betty’s in Beverley, my most frequently Sam Smiths haunt” – as if one of Humphrey’s most proper pubs, the White Horse, can be confused with a tearoom in Harrogate or York popular with tourists.


  2. Thanks for the shout out!

    Glad to hear your “taking the beer back” story had a happy ending. It must be tricky deciding when the line has been crossed– just how bad the beer has to be before returning it is the only option.

    I kind of wish I could get my money back for every American-style excessively hoppy IPA I’ve ever had, but unfortunately they’re meant to taste that way. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mark,
      Yes, it can be tricky deciding when the line has been crossed – just how bad the beer has to be before returning it is the only option – and the older I get the less inclined I am to return beer that’s past its best, or to ask for short measure to be topped up. Wrong, I know, but that’s how it is.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The beer buffs know what they’re doing in in nearly fifty years NEVER having had an AGM weekend in Harrogate.
      – and they don’t mind Yorkshire as it’ll be ten times there by 2121, Harrogate and Sheffield most often.


      1. Not quite ;
        Sheffield – 1991, 2011, 2021
        Scarborough – 1994, 2002, 2014
        York – 1974, 2020
        Bradford – 1982
        Hull – 1987

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Somebody once told me an AGM had also been held in Middlesbrough. Is this wrong?


      3. Well I insist we find out.

        Can someone start a thread on Discord?

        I know it’s all micropubs now, but there’s some evidence that Mboro once had a proper pub.


      4. Middlesbrough’s not on my list
        1972 Nuneaton
        1973 London
        1974 York
        1975 Nottingham
        1976 Brighton
        1977 Blackpool
        1978 Cardiff
        1979 Keele
        1980 Loughborough
        1981 Durham
        1982 Bradford
        1983 Reading
        1984 Edinburgh
        1985 Southport
        1986 Southampton
        1987 Hull
        1988 Birmingham
        1989 Aberdeen
        1990 Norwich
        1991 Sheffield
        1992 Bristol
        1993 Salford
        1994 Scarborough
        1995 Wolverhampton
        1996 Portsmouth
        1997 Llandudno
        1998 Edinburgh
        1999 Hove
        2000 Derby
        2001 Newcastle
        2002 Scarborough
        2003 Exeter
        2004 Southport
        2005 Glasgow
        2006 Blackpool
        2007 Wolverhampton
        2008 Cardiff
        2009 Eastbourne
        2010 Isle of Man
        2011 Sheffield
        2012 Torquay
        2013 Norwich
        2014 Scarborough
        2015 Nottingham
        2016 Liverpool
        2017 Bournemouth
        2018 “Coventry”
        2019 Dundee
        2020 York
        There have also been two EGMs, 1978 in Manchester on air pressure dispense and 1985 in London on takeovers and closures.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. “Harrogate cost me about £9 to get to, and it wasn’t worth it.”


    “Even with the slouchiest teenagers in Yorkshire slowing my exit,”

    I know it’s an age thing but I find myself being slowed by people all over the bloody place.

    “Things took a turn for the worse in North Bar.”

    Worse than slouchy teens?

    “Makes a change from high tables”

    Did a nearby daycare go bankrupt?

    “You can tell, can’t you ?”

    Good lord. Is it trying to be a black and tan without the black?

    “and wished I’d had the session beer”

    Oh, that’s definitely a beer for a single session. 🙂

    “the Pale scored a sherberty 3.5,”

    Um, sherbety. 😉

    “Shadowy figures”

    Is that a painting or are you dabbling in your filtering again?

    “Beardy pizza eaters.”

    But of course. If they were wearing toques they’d be brewers. 🙂

    “Yes, Beardy Pizza Eaters were just one of the weird Indy bands being played”

    Ah. My mistake.

    “if I’d comed for a flat black I’d have enjoyed it.



    I was expecting something akin to Downton Abbey.

    “The Gents was out of order,”

    Ahem… water the plants? 😉

    “No plant pots were harmed…”




  4. Knew you think that about Starlings. My visit was at lunchtime and it was basically a cafe with a few people drinking beer too, which is ok if that’s your thing and the beer is served in good condition. North was a bit underwhelming. When Richard refers to Sparrows, is that a smaller sister pub of Starlings? 😉 though I am all for the spread of bars named after birds.


    1. I think we went to Sparrows on a Proper Day Out in Bradford just over a year ago.
      “I am all for the spread of bars named after birds” and it’s nothing new. I’ve known Eagles, Golden Eagles and Spread Eagles for about 45 years.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. And our friends in Burton are continuing the tradition with their new build pubs
        The Sand Martin, Cardiff
        The Greenfinch, Didsbury
        The Starling Cloud, Aberystwyth
        to name but three.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Great to see a pub change cask no quibble…well worth a mention 👍 what is it with f*****” pizza? People actually ask me if I will go to a pub because the pizza is good!!! Bollox if I want a pizza I’ll go to Frankie and Benny’s not a pub

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My wife and daughter like pizzas so sometimes they’ll have one in the converted NatWest Bank in Market Square while I have a proper meal and couple of pints in the Market Vaults not many yards away.
        It wouldn’t do for us all to be the same.

        Liked by 1 person

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