A few days recovery, then back on the chain gang, as someone once sang.

This is that time of year, with the odd pub in Durham, Tyne & Wear and North Yorkshire to visit, that I feel like just moving up to Scotch Corner and being done with it.


The micro in Barnard Castle had been a particular irritant this year with its late opening/early closing/only after Wednesday hours. Not the first time I’ve had opening hours issues in BC.

But it has to be done, as does Bowes Museum.


I’m not one for stately homes and old stuff, but I figured I could ignore Bowes no longer.  To my shame, I had no idea it was actually in the town centre.

Now that Ibstock Country Park in Coalville has closed, Bowes has the best fashion display in the country (see also: Northampton Museum).

But the highlights are the two headed calf,

One of them prefers cask, the other keg

and this 18th Century figurine of BRAPA stealing a barrel of Bass in Newark last week.  A crime he didn’t tell us about.

Well dressed as ever

Worth the visit, and you can go back every day of the year with your ticket if you have a porcelain fixation.

I headed into town, classier and busier than ever, to kill half an hour before 5pm opening.

All the pubs look pleasant

Having a coffee in a pub is becoming a regular occurrence since I got the gig as Duncan and Simon’s official taxi, but since the only beer I saw pulled in 20 minutes was John Smiths Smooth (£1.85, cheaper than Spoons) and my coffee came with a biscuit, I win.

The coffee hour

Mark will be pleased to know the soundtrack was “Kiss Me” by Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy.

Ten minutes to go, enough for the highlights package.

Future micro called “Castle Cask”
Future artisan keg market stall location

The holy trinity of town centre shops is still there; antiques shop, Heron Foods, Fox & Field country sports.

Joined now by a micro that appears to be open earlier than expected.

Tiny entrance
You wouldn’t stumble on it

I enter a room that will be familiar to anyone who watched the original Twin Peaks,

NOT my filter, folkd

and get a spectacular welcome from staff and a couple of locals who obviously read Facebook rather than the Good Beer Guide to find out opening times. But well done Firkin Alley for increasing hours.

I get a nod of appreciation when I choose the local Tirril Brown Ale, which is rich and smooth and superb (NBSS 3.5+).

Those hooks again

They doubt my story that I’ve travelled up from Cambridge to visit their pub, so I claim to be a weirdo who likes Bass memorabilia, which doesn’t sound much better.

It’s a collection tin

I made sure I gave the Bass collection tin back.  Honest.

Nice to meet ya”  they called.  I believe they meant it too.  Lovely folk.



      1. Probably because it’s in County Durham 😛

        Are my eyes deceiving me, or is that a micro with bench seating and Britannia tables?


      2. Yes, the point I was making was that the character of the place seems to change pretty sharply when you go from the edge of North Yorkshire (Pickering, say) into Durham. Barnard felt a different world on first visit 25 years ago, perheps less so now but Scotch Corner still seems to be a point where accents change.

        Your eyes do not deceive you!


  1. It’s changed ownership recently, last time I was there under the old ownership I found it a distinctly odd place (not even an A-board in the street to help find it, and a bit of a strange welcome), but sounds like it’s on the up so I must visit again next time I’m in Barney.

    Don’t see much Tirril these days. Brewer/owner of the new-ish McColl’s Brewery at Evenwood learnt his craft there I believe. I assume he worked in a Spar or Londis before that.


  2. Now, that Tin Tin track was indeed a much played record for me. Not sure it is worthy of much critical respect, but to a certain American high school student it sounded great. 🙂

    I never quite know what I’m going to get when I order a “Brown Ale”, and I don’t think I’ve ever had one that I liked as much as a standard pale ale/bitter. I’ll bet someone does one I’d love, but I haven’t encountered it yet sadly.


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