A Night In Rawtenstall

“It's a long way to Rosendale It's a long way to go”

Some folk may indeed think it is a long way to go, but the trip up to the valley that time forgot isn't actually that far. You only have to witness the raiding parties of East Lancs shoppers pouring into Bury on market days to realise that. So it seemed only fair to send a few missionaries the other way. The spur was the opening of a nano-bar on Rawtenstall market. Without the restrictive stranglehold of two Wetherspoons that afflicts Bury; Rawtenstall has seen a remarkable growth in small, independent beer outlets. And after 6pm a 1 Day Go Rosendale bus saver ticket is only £3. So after a few warm up libations in Bury, we were valley bound

First stop for many is the Buffer Stops adjacent to the ELR station. This is the sister pub of the Trackside and whilst it has been good in the past, like the TS it has been more patchy in recent times. So we pushed onto the Cabin. This is the self-described nano-bar on the market and …


The Calder Valley Ale Trail is an alternative to the now rather toxic TransPennine Real Ale Trail. This one takes in the Manchester-Halifax line and in many ways offers a superior experience. Some stops can easily be combined into a mini-crawl: Sowerby and Hebden Bridge, for example. But to do the mighty Halifax justice as well really requires a separate visit. That is if you take your drinking seriously, of course.

Halifax is an ideal crawl really. Plenty of pubs offering plenty of variety and it's compact. Meaning even decrepit CAMRA types can manage it. A good starting off point is the Three Pigeons, just outside of the town centre. This a striking 1930's Art Deco affair which could be quite rightly labelled a “proper boozer”. Multi-roomed; it combines many of the fine features a public house should have. And there is a fine selection of Ossett beers in case you are thirsty as well.
Next up was the Lantern on Alexandra Street. This is a modern, quirky (check out the bike on t…

Wyldes Refurbishment

Wyldes sits on the corner of Bolton St and Market Place in the centre of Bury. When it first opened, it was a flagship Holts pub. It sold Mild, Bitter and, revolutionary for the time, guest beers. It offered all day dining and sports TV. However, the wheels soon began to come off. The guest beers were too expensive for the regular Holts drinkers and quality suffered. This in turn deterred the casual drinker from going in and slowly both Mild and the guest beers disappeared from the bar.

I wrote about its woes back in 2008 and the years in-between havem't been kind. Pub trade in the centre is fiercely compettitve and it's had more lows than highs. It didn't get to grips with Wetherspoons on the food side, failed to build up a weekday trade and relied too heavily on the weekend late night music-led crowd. It was looking dark and tired and even the TV picture was poor.

Now however; as part of Holts estate refurbishment, it has had a long overdue makeover and reopened last wee…

Holding Out For A Hero

Isn't there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and I turn And I dream of what I need
Cask is dead. Cask is the future. Cask is dead. Cask is the future. Or so we've been hearing over the last 50 years. The latest rival that promised to sound the death knell for cask was evil keg filth. Or craft as its purveors prefer to call it. It was cool, hip, daddio. While cask was old fashioned and for squares. And sold too cheap, apparently, although I'd avoid saying that around Uncle Albert. 
Isn't there anyone out there who can save cask from a slow and painful death? Where's the streetwise Hercules to fight the rising odds? Enter Cloudwater. Who along with Brewdog (they don't count as they seem to be a bit of a joke these days) have gone back to the future and are producing cask once more. This has come as something of a surprise to some crafties who didn't realise that they had ever made the stuff but ho-hum. 
Anyway this takes us to the scene o…


All roads lead to Chesterfield. Actually no they don't, but that's what the locals say. Actually they say that all roads lead out of Chesterfield but, for the sake of literary licence, let's pretend otherwise. Chesterfield is the birthplace of such luminaries as Barbara Castle, Sir John Hurt, Spycatcher author Peter Wright and, erm, Princess Di's rock, Paul Burrell. Well you can't win them all.

For our purposes it's fame mainly rests on the Brampton Mile. As the name suggests; this is a mile stretch running on or near to Chatsworth Road that boasts a dozen or so pubs. Of course many towns at one time or another could boast of something similar-locally we had the Rammy Mile-but these are few and far between now. Indeed, according to the locals, the Brampton Mile at one time stretched to 24 pubs but it is still pretty well-endowed. As is Chesterfield as a whole, actually.

Chesterfield was, for some reason, one of the few recommended pub crawls unknown to yours tr…

Cloudwater Brewery Tap

Was it only three years ago that Manchester was gripped by Cloudwater inaugural fever? It seems a lot longer. Ah I remember it well. How innocent we all were. How young we all were. How thirsty we all were. But in the words of that great prophet Robert Zimmerman: "the times they are a-changin'. Indeed they are. Cloudwater-to no one's great surprise-are now firmly established in the top rank of UK craft brewing with a reputation that encompasses Trumpland.

But where can you regularly drink this delightful Manchester nectar? Until recently the answer would have been their Barrel Store underneath the Piccadilly arches. While some may have enthused about its cosiness, truth be told, it wasn't the best showcase for Cloudwater's beers. A brewery with the standing and ambition that they have needed a more suitable outlet. Something, say, like a proper brewery tap.

And so it came to pass. The brewery tap is located, logically enough, next to the brewery at unit 9 of the P…

Tuesday's Dead

"Whoa, where do you go?  When you don't want no one to know? Who told tomorrow Tuesday's dead" (Tuesday's Dead: Cat Stevens) 
When I was a wee pup: back in ye olden days of Middle-earth, when Gandalf was just starting out, I learnt of the Tuesday Night Test. These were the days of pubs on every street corner (or so it seemed) and pubs selling gallons of Mild etc. Quality though, as ever, was an issue. And although you got to know where the best pints were to be had, the real test was what was the beer like on a Tuesday night? Any pub that could deliver on what was traditionally the quietest day was probably going to be a safe bet anytime.

Fast forward to the internet age and whilst quality may still be an issue, despite the falling number of outlets, what you can't fault is the choice. Or so the theory goes. A Tuesday afternoon stroll round Manchester therefore should be a piece of the proverbial cake. No problem at the first stop, the Pilcrow, where both the Ri…