Thursday, 5 May 2016

The ones that got away

The Scotch Piper, Lydiate, Lancashire
I recently posted a quick top-of-the-head list of sixty of the best pubs in Britain. I made the point that I had omitted some well-known classic pubs which I had been to, simply because I hadn’t visited them for twenty-five years or more, such as:
  • Bell, Aldworth, Berkshire
  • Blue Ship, The Haven, Sussex
  • Olde Tavern, Kington, Herefordshire
  • Pandora, Restronguet Creek, Cornwall
  • Roscoe Head, Liverpool
  • Square & Compass, Worth Matravers, Dorset
  • Three Kings, Hanley Castle, Worcestershire
People also mentioned a number of pubs that were in their personal top tens that I hadn’t ever visited myself. Now, I’m not a dedicated pub explorer in the mould of Simon Everitt or Martin Taylor, but when I travel around the country I do make an effort to visit any outstanding pubs in the area. These are a few that either others have suggested or I’m aware of myself.
  • Bag O’Nails, Bristol (no idea what the attraction is there)
  • Beacon Hotel, Sedgeley, Staffordshire
  • Berkeley, Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire
  • Coopers Tavern, Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire
  • Holly Bush, Makeney, Derbyshire
  • Peter Kavanagh’s, Liverpool
  • Queen’s Arms, Cowden Pound, Kent
  • Scotch Piper, Lydiate, Lancashire
  • Tuckers Grave, Faulkland, Somerset
  • Vine (Bull & Bladder), Brierley Hill, Staffordshire
Any other ideas for must-visit pubs around the country that I may have missed? They don’t need to be untouched olde-worlde survivors, but pubs with some character over and above just the appeal of their beer range.


  1. don't need to bother with that. just put the spoons finder app on your phone then you can find a cheap pint.

  2. Old House, Ightham
    Black Horse, Checkendon

  3. Been to six of your second list.

  4. Woodman, Wildhill, Herts. London commuter-belt, but feels like the middle of the countryside. Wet-led, ungentrified, old-school opening hours, always busy.

  5. Tesco Customer Service5 May 2016 at 14:25

    More for the Express conversion list. Cheers.

  6. The Old House at Ightham Common was on my original list.

    The Woodman does sound excellent - but out-of-the-way pubs in non-touristy areas are the ones people are least likely to chance upon.

  7. Looked at your original top 60 and this must visit - probably going to get shot for this, but there are some decent boozers in London - which seems to be entirely missed from both lists. Coach and Horses (Soho) for the history and legends that have drank there - The Dove, Hammersmith, for the views from the balcony and the Blackfriar next to the bridge for the internal decor and the way Betjeman saved it from demolition spring to mind.

    1. London is a place I have no need to visit on business and no desire to visit as a tourist, so I doubt whether I'll be making up for that deficiency any time soon. Crikey, I even find central Manchester alienating.

  8. Why have I never heard of the Pandora ! I was a mile away from Restronguet this week and scanning What Pub; it didn't jump out.

    In terms of additions to that list, the Dead Poets in Holbrook east of Belper is a personal favourite, for the Bass and Pedi from the jug and the fire.

    1. The Pandora is now described as "rather food-orientated" - presumably more so than it was 25 years ago. Understandable in that location, but WhatPub still refers to "the maze of small ground floor rooms of the original cob building". Wonderful setting, though - try panning round from here.

  9. The Rose & Crown at Huish Episcopi in Somerset. Lots of small rooms, some (if I remember correctly) only accessible through the stone-flagged, counterless serving area. Thatched roof as well. And staying in Somerset, the Halfway House at Pitney is pretty good as well. (Perhaps Curmudgeon will remember backing a minibus out of its carpark many years ago...)

  10. The Turf Tavern, aka Tinky's. Bloxwich, Walsall. A time-warp.

  11. Another pub worthy of a visit is The Bhurtpore Inn in Aston, Cheshire. It's a cracking little pub which was run by the George family since the 1850's. It was sold to a brewery in the early 20th century, but the current landlord Simon George bought it back 25 years ago and has been running it ever since. In addition to being a real ale paradise, it's a proper pub with dogs welcome.

    1. As both John Clarke and Paul Felton know, I've never quite "got" the Bhurtpore. If you take the beer range away, you're left with a pretty ordinary pub, which isn't the case with the others on the list. Paul will also tell the tale of me carefully picking all the peas out of a samosa ;-)

  12. Flowerpots cheriton
    Cuckoo hamptworth

    Two of my favourites from university days, dual roomed, beer on gravity, flowerpots just 1 yr shy of full complement of gbg entries (soley because there was no local branch in first yr)

  13. In no order, some hostelries visited in last couple of years that have that hard to define feel of character and 'rightness' as a pub (landlord/landlady usually crucial in this):
    Craven Arms, Birmingham
    Cambridge Blue, Cambridge
    Brunswick Inn, Derby
    Half Moon, Hitchin
    Digby Tap, Sherborne
    Land of Liberty, Peace and Plenty, Heronsgate
    Rising Sun, Berkhamsted
    Red Lion, Marsworth
    Palmerston Arms, Peterborough
    Bridge Bier Huis, Burnley
    Masons Arms, Lower Odcombe
    The Barrels, Hereford
    Royal Arms, Tockholes

    Have left out a number in London in light of your views on our fair capital ;-).

    1. Digby Tap and Barrels are both on my original list. I'd say both are proper pubs with atmosphere and a varied, vibrant clientele who aren't just there for the beer. I'll aim to make a list of all these suggestions with a view to ticking them off if in the area.

  14. The Dangerman7 May 2016 at 17:16

    Eagle Ale House Clapham Junction/Wandsworth Common. If only because it's one of the few unrefurbished wet led boozers left in the area. And London is far more suburban outside of Zone 1 than you probably give it credit for.

  15. I believe the attraction of the Bag o'Nails in Bristol is its large population of cats. Don't know about the beer.


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