Last night’s Government Briefing heralded a new dawn for GBG tickers (if there’s any pubs left to tick in 2024) with the announcement of the dual-carriaging of the A66 between Scotch Corner and Penrith.


I reckon that’ll save another 9 minutes off future journeys into western Scotland and the Lakes, which along with the improved A14 should mean I can get to my next Scottish Guide pub before I actually leave home soon.

Sadly, the UK media isn’t interested in good news, and are only interested in the car journeys of this demonised middle manager*;

See the source image
Dominic Cumminsbatch

Yesterday the UK was gripped by conspiracy fever, unable to grasp that the lack of “Dominic Cummings” on Twitter Trends is because they can’t spell “Dominik”, or “Cummins”, or that sticking offensive slogans in your hashtag tends to be counterproductive.


This morning it’s Barnard Castle that’s trending.

Barnard Castle.PNG

I guarantee you that the 99% of the public who have not a clue who Mr Cummings is, bar that portrayal by Cumberbatch on the BBC film, couldn’t place Barnard Castle on a map either.  They probably think it’s where BRAPA’s dad lives.

A bit like Clitheroe, or Glossop, or Hay, it’s a little treasure, somewhere to make a 20 mile detour to and waste an afternoon.

Best known for Bowes Museum, whose annual pass remains in my wallet but now seems a bit pointless, but at least I got to see the two-headed calf once.


The castle is just the right side of ruins.

If you like Clitheroe, you’ll like this..,

You can see the town in an hour, but if there were any decent cheap B & B options (there aren’t) I’d stay the night and get p****d with Middlesbrough fans in the Proper Pubs like the Three Horseshoes.

You could rustle me up a Chinese takeaway recommendation while you’re at it.

Horse Market

Barnard feels more like affluent Yorkshire (Richmond, Thirsk) than the gritty but pretty Durham to the north.

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

Everytime I go I sense it’s on the cusp of becoming the next Hebden, which is a bit unrealistic for a town the size of Waterbeach.

Last time here the micropub was the star, and you’ll know how hard it is to admit that.

The Firkin & Alley

Proper Pub, just small. I got a nod of appreciation when I chose the local Tirril Brown Ale, which was rich and smooth and superb (NBSS 3.5+).

Bench seating porn.  In a micro

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

Don’t nick the Bass charity box

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

The town seems to get a new “solid town local” in the Guide each year or so, and in 2017 it was the turn of the Golden Lion.

I do like town centre Marston pubs; look at that lovely glop of Pedigree.

Pubs. When they were open
More bench seating porn
Pedigree glop

It was gorgeous (NBSS 3.5), surviving our latest mini heatwave surprisingly well.  A small scale food trade, but really this is one for the professional drinkers, who treated me to a political analysis that would have persuaded you to changed your vote, either way (unless you had Lord Buckethead to vote for, of course).

And because I know some of you have gone teetotal over the Lockdown, let me recommend the coffee (and free biscuit) in the Coach & Horses.

Marston’s heritage remains. For now.

But if the coffee is on the turn you can go for Banks’s Amber instead. In fact you probably should.



*There are accountants at the BBC who earn more than Mr Cummings.


  1. “Dominic Cummings”
    I do hope that you’re not trying to bring politics into this site.
    It has no more place on internet beer and/or pub sites than it does on our Proper Days Out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think that the UK possibly wasnt all that gripped…Twitter was properly exercised by faux outrage…… but if the last few elections have taught us anything it’s that twitter opinion counts for nowt!!! People should get off twitter and just spend time on the RM blog! A much happier place 🙂

    I loved your beer blogs anyway – but you’ve hit a rich vein of lockdown form as well 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was going to say Tirril Brewery is not local to Barnard Castle, but according to Google Maps it’s 29.9 miles away via the A66, so just about squeaks in. And a 33 minute drive, or probably just 32 once the government has spent umpteen million on the dualling.

    I was in Barnard Castle on 1 May 2017, but only stopped to take photos of the pubs as I was cycling from Darlington to Langdon Beck youth hostel. As it happened, I arrived bang on opening time, so I could have had a beer in Barno. I imagine you’ll have been to the Langdon Beck Hotel, as it’s a GBG tick, I believe.


      1. Sixth….

        The 24 Hour clock is the biggest issue of debate on Discourse, after autovacs, chips for GBBF volunteers, and how nasty Wetherspoons are.


  4. I had a business trip to Barnard Castle, back in the early 80’s. At the time, pharmaceutical giant Glaxo, had a large plant there, on the outskirts of the town, and were experiencing problems with their water-treatment equipment, supplied by my company.

    I’ve been racking my brains to recall what the problem was, and indeed what was the outcome, but this was nearly 40 years ago, and business trips seemed more common than they do now. I do remember travelling by train to Darlington the afternoon before, and then either taking a taxi to Barnard, or being collected by someone from Glaxo.

    I also recall visiting a couple of pubs in the town, close to my hotel that evening, before conducting the site visit, the following morning. It was wintertime and therefore dark by the time I arrived in Barnard Castle, so there’s very little I can tell you about the place, but I distinctly remember they were a really nice bunch of people at Glaxo.

    That’s my own bit of trivia, as well as connection with a town which, I’m sure doesn’t really need the current media frenzy that has descended on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right. They are nice people. Actually, most people are nice till they get whipped into a frenzied witchhunt against something they don’t understand.

      NB All publicity is good publicity. Ask Tim Martin.

      Liked by 1 person

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