|The Black Lion, Consall Forge, Staffordshire|
Over the years, I’d guess that vehicular access has been made easier, possibly connected with building a paved road to the nearby country park. It’s certainly accessible by car now, with only about the last six hundred yards being an unmade road, although I can see that becoming a touch treacherous in very wet weather. There’s also a nasty unmarked “reverse road hump” on the final paved stretch that can catch you unawares.
It’s certainly in an idyllic setting, deep in the wooded Churnet Valley, with customers having to cross the Caldon Canal and the preserved railway to reach the pub. I have to say I found the pub itself a touch underwhelming, although maybe a Sunday lunchtime when food and families predominated was not the time to see it at its best.
It was always a bit special and exciting, though, to make a trip to a pub so remote it didn’t even have a metalled road leading to its door, and many of these pubs acquired something of a legendary status. A number of other well-known examples that spring to mind – either accessible only by an unmade track, or along a dodgy no-through-road – are:
- Double Locks, Alphington, Exeter
- Griffin, Gilfach Goch, Glamorgan
- Royal Oak, Hooksway, West Sussex
- Bat & Ball, Boundstone, Farnham, Surrey (often referred to as being in Wrecclesham)
- Tunnel House, Coates, Gloucestershire
- Live & Let Live, Bringsty Common, Herefordshire
- Harp, Little Neston, Cheshire
- Tandle Hill Tavern, Middleton, Lancashire (I know a regular blog reader is very familiar with this one)
Obviously, over the years, our increased censoriousness about driving after drinking within the legal limit has reduced the appeal of pubs of this type, but all of the above are still going and some, especially the Double Locks, have received substantial brewery investment. I understand the Live & Let Live has been turned into something of a gastropub, although it’s still down a dirt track.
Are there any others you’re aware of, and do they bring back memories of any particular good times in the past? Or any that have bitten the dust? I believe there used be a handful of extremely basic Brakspear’s “dirt track pubs” in the Chiltern beechwoods that are now long gone.