Last Saturday saw a hardcore bunch of miscreants wastrels, ragamuffins and reprobates join up for a birthday crawl of East Lancashire. Eddie the, eager, legal beagle has finally come of age. Yes, he’s bought his first razor and swapped his shorts for long pants. Such momentous moments cannot go uncelebrated, so a-drinking we did go.
The sensible lot started with breakfast (full-on dining during the trip was strictly verboten) and some Phoenix Hopsack at the Art Picture House. A leisurely coach journey then took us to the Healey Hotel in Rochdale. This is a cosy, multi-roomed, Robinsons’ pub that has had some much needed TLC in recent times and both the decor and beer were top notch.
Next stop was the picturesque hamlet of Bacup or “Backup” as the locals call it. Now Bacup is famous for its interbred residents and little else. However, there is a little oasis tucked away down a winding road: the Crown. This is a regular outlet for the excellent Pictish Brewery and both their Brewers Gold and Blue Moon were well received.
Up to Burnley next, passing the cheerful cherubs and their welcoming V signs along the way. You could tell the Clarets were playing at home as half the Lancashire constabulary was camped in the town centre. Luckily our stop-the Gannow Wharf-was just far enough away to ensure our drinking wasn’t disturbed.
Home to the Pot Noodle bar snack, the Gannow also offered up some tasty Bowland beers and a chance to try Burnley’s new brewery. Worsthorne have been brewing for less than three months and we sampled two of their beers here, Foxstones and Blonde.
The Swan with Two Necks at Pendleton is an old favourite and once again didn’t disappoint. It’s a great little pub with proper toilets (i.e. outside) and an excellent range of beer and cider. Phoenix and Bowland were both enjoyed here. Now the Swan is hard to beat as a pub, but if there is one that can lay claim to it, it’s the Victoria at Great Harwood.
The Vic is simply one of the best pubs in the country. It features in CAMRA’s list of Historic Pub Interiors and has lobby drinking, a great outdoors drinking area and old-school snacks such as Ploughman’s-In-A-Bag. Oh, and the beer choice is extensive and impressive. I stuck to the Windermere Pale, but there was plenty of choice. However, there is no blue plaque, as yet, to mark the Whitefield Holts Bandit’s historical transgression here..
The evening was drawing close now, but there was still time for two more stops. The first was the Peel Park in Accrington which is a good pub, but the pool room is wasted seating space in such a busy local. Last stop for all was the cracking Robin Hood in Helmshore. Once a Copper Dragon pub, it’s now owned by Hydes and sells their beers and guests. I enjoyed the Allgates Pacific Gem here.
The coach was now heading back to base, so there were tough choices to be made. A few wimps stayed on and were dropped back in Bury. The rest of us settled in my local, the Hare & Hounds in Holcombe Brook for a few nightcaps after a very enjoyable day out. Beer fatigue was now setting in, though, and there were a few choice sights. Some people even started eating. The birthday boy then did a runner and it was all downhill on Oakham White Dwarf after that...