West Lancs Wander

Now say what you like about Camra, but it does give people a (semi) legitimate excuse to get bevvied up. It’s all down to our esoteric interest in the art of brewing, don’t you know. So Saturday for me meant a little trip round West Lancashire. Not for the lovely landscape, historic towns and fine architecture, but for, hopefully, some decent pubs. Most of the connoisseur drunks were out: Jan & Dean, Archimedes, Pythagoras and the WHB. Not to mention, Eddie, the eager, legal, beagle, Seasider, and Galadriel. Recently returned from the Fatherland, Tandleman was in attendance and we mustn’t (as if), forget the Wallsend Wonder

Without the aid of a safety net, or indeed notes, this is what I recall. They weren’t ready for us at the Derby Arms at Aughhton, meaning a wait for some of the plebs, but not a problem for the lucky few at the front of the coach. I went for Derwent Parsons Pledge (4%) which had a hint of fruit and was pleasant enough. Tetley Mild (3.3%) was even better with a dry, bitter, malty palate.

The next stop was one of the best-the Dolphin at Longton. I’ve been here a couple of times now and enjoyed it thoroughly. Hidden away at the start of the Ribble Way, at the end of a winding country lane, it’s a local’s pub. I can only imagine their surprise at 20+ thirsty drinkers bursting in. Anyway, the beer didn’t disappoint and some people decided to eat here. And, in some cases, feed the very friendly pub cat. I enjoyed all the beer here, including Slater's Top Totty(4%), which was golden and crisp on the palate.

The official lunch stop was the village of Croston which is situated by the River Yarrow, between Southport and Chorley. A lot of cask pubs here, but today they proved somewhat disappointing. The GBG listed Wheatsheaf was completely empty-never a good sign for a Saturday lunchtime. Particularly for a pub that sells itself on its dining. Perhaps part of the reason was the price of some dishes, which were quite eye-watering. Another reason may be the beer quality, with the Taylors Landlord having that lovely butterscotch flavour that we all associate with it.

My polite request for something else was met with “it smells ok.” A pit stop at the Lord Nelson revealed some below par Moorhouses Premier and a distinct lack of food, despite their advertising otherwise. The Black Horse having always been dodgy when visited, didn't disappoint, so it was straight to the other GBG pub: the Grapes. This is a smart little multi-roomer and although the beer range was reduced from previous visits, luckily quality was ok. Their food proved better value and of better quality than elsewhere as well. The 3 cheese Ploughman’s provided a good wedge of cheese and bread, with minimum interference from any salad.

Chorley centre saw us first calling in at the Malt & Hops. This is now a Beartown pub, selling their wares and some guest beers. Both Kodiak Gold (4%) and Harley(4.1%) were pale, but undistinguished. Then up to Cowling Brow and the Prince of Wales. This is a traditional mult-roomer, with a well-stoaked coal fire in the snug, where the landlord’s interest in jazz is clear to see. I tried Jennings Cumberland (4%) and the tart Wychwood Fiddlers Elbow (4.5%).

Finally we called it a day at the Spinners in Adlington. Luckily, being the last stop, the choice (as usual), was excellent and hop lovers weren’t disappointed. I started with an old friend-Durham Magus (3.8%) which has an interesting mix of Czech and American hops. The resulting golden ale has delicate citrus notes and a pleasing bitter/sweet tangy taste. However, that had to give way to York Decade (4.1%) which has to be the best beer, by far, that they brew. Just time for a toilet dash and then it was home time.

Back in Bury, everyone seemed keen to get to the Trackside, but it appears only for a pee. I was the only one actually having a drink. So there I was, alone and abandoned, unloved and unwanted, with only Saltaire Apricot (4.2%) for company. It’s enough to drive a beerhound to drink. Luckily John Barleycorn was there to comfort me until I could finally find solace in the arms of a loving garlic-chilli pizza.

Note: Tandleman isn't camera shy, he was merely demonstrating the ancient martial art of drunk fu.


Sounds a great wander despite a few misgivings. Note to self - must get out to West Lancs more
Tyson said…
Yes, I think we were just unlucky in Croston and when the Black Horse is done up, another visit will be in order.

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