Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the blog...

More Shropshire (and a bit of Worcester too).

We recently had another trip to the area, mainly to have a weekend on the Severn Valley Railway, including my first attempt at firing and driving a steam engine. Thirsty work which requires plenty of quality ale afterwards.

We based ourselves in Bewdley (Worcs.), a Georgian town and former port on the River Severn, handy for the railway, and chose to stay at the Woodcolliers Arms, mainly due to the quality of the website. The reality did not let us down, good beer from Ludlow (including a house special), 3Tuns, Wyre Piddle and Kinver. With only 4 hand pumps, 1 or 2 beers can change everyday. Food is very popular, particularly the Russian menu!

A short walk through the town leads to the quayside pubs and the Mughouse. Tables line the quay for a view of the river, and a beer garden to the rear of the pub has a near permanent barbecue on the go (proper food is available inside!). Beers are again mainly local, but a mouthwatering guest was Milestone "Raspberry Wheat".

There are plenty of other pubs in Bewdley, including two called the Black Boy. The one in the GBG is hidden up the hill behind the Woodcolliers, an excellent local dispensing well kept Marstons beers. My choice was Jennings "Honey Bole". It's a bit of a climb, but well worth the effort to find such a different pub. Over the river near the station is the other Black Boy, the one pictured on Beer In The Evening (by mistake), a hotel with a pleasant public bar. Fear not if you wander in here "by mistake", on our visit a very good pint of Wye Valley "HPA" was available.

Bridgnorth (Salop), is the northern terminus of the Severn Valley Railway, where most visitors will be familiar with the Railwayman's Arms at the station. Aside from the Railwayman's there are about 25 pubs in this delightful market town, and we were without our GBG, so time for "not in the beer guide no. 3".

Passing the White Lion (West Castle Street), we noticed the cask marque and the words "free house" above the inn sign. This was a Bank's house until a couple of years ago, and is yet another example of what can be done once you are free of tie. Local beer (again), including Wye Valley "Butty Bach" and Cannon Royall "Arrowhead", a beer so good I think we should have some closer to home! Good food was on offer, the specials board was very enticing (Devon Crab), and another beer garden to enjoy the sunshine. With another 20 or so pubs to visit, a mental note was made to return another time, before returning to the station for a couple of pints of Ironbridge "1779", and the train back to Bewdley.

We journeyed back to Huddersfield through Shrewsbury again, to make a lightening visit to the Three Fishes (Fish Street!) and the Nags Head, around the corner on Wyle Cop. Both are ancient buildings with low ceilings and bags of character. As a change from local ales the Fishes had (amongst others) Thornbridge "Blackthorn" and Oakham "JHB", which was on top form, a second had to be had, once we had eaten. Beer range at the Nags Head was a bit of a disappointment, but there was an excellent pint of Hobsons "Bitter", and then it was off to the beer garden. The GBG states "best viewed from the outside", but you don't expect the beautiful timber framed building - just the frame, that stands at the rear of this pub.

With storm clouds gathering and thunder rolling, it was time to rush back to the station and hope we draw Shrewsbury Town in the cup for an excuse to visit again soon.

(p.s. There is a tiny alley next to the Fishes called Grope Lane, this is indeed where the ladies of the night, or day, earned their living. In medieval times the name was Gropec**t Lane, the last four letters obviously omitted nowadays. In some towns Grope was changed to Grape, so if you live in Grape Road, or drink in an old tavern called the Grapes, it does not necessarily mean there was a vineyard nearby!)

Woodcolliers pics reproduced with the kind permission of the pub

No comments: