Sunday, 4 March 2012

TRANSPENNINE ALE TRAIL.


It's funny how every Sunday I see friends and other folk on various social networks bemoaning another horrible hangover and denouncing the demon drink - until this time next week! I often get called an old man or a boring twat for my choice of weekend liquid refreshment, but I know it's better than what they've had. Did that sound a little cuntish? Good, it was meant to.
I wake up fresh as a daisy after a long session, every single time, with not even a mere hint of a hangover. Instead of moaning perhaps they should swerve the Jager bombs for some pale ales and give it a whirl. Try it, you might like it.
The Transpennine Ale Trail seems to have gained a lot of popularity, something as a beer connoisseur/pub bore I've said I'd have a look at several times but for whatever reason never got around to doing. I like a good stagger but throwing multiple trains and different towns and villages into the mix seemed a great, albeit funny way of doing it. I could just imagine bursting for a piss during each train journey, which is of course exactly what happened.
Never the less it was actually a good day out. As featured on the BBC's Oz and James Drink to Britain, The 'Transpennine Real Ale Trail' is a unique voyage to a selection of Yorkshire and Lancashire's best boozers done via the old chuff chuff. All the pubs are just a short stroll from their respective stations or as with a couple actually on the station itself! So it's a piece of piss, even we could do it. Doing this on a Saturday I was expecting to see a few fellow Real Ale Twats perhaps, but it seemed a lot bigger than I first thought.


A short jaunt from Piccadilly to Stalybridge aka Staly Vegas and the famous Buffet Bar, as soon as we got off here the morning's sun in nearby Cheshire had been replaced by pissy rain and a biting wind, despite a wardrobe full of good coats I'd only stuck a 6876 Oxford shirt on and a lightweight EG storm parka, well I had other stuff on, I wasn't bare below the waist, but you get my drift, it was proper capers by this point and I ever so slightly rued the fact I'd wasted another good opportunity to dress like a polar explorer (in a pub, at a station, in Stalybridge) one last time this year. The Buffet Bar is a great old school Victorian station bar - one of the last few remaining ones and a joy to behold!

This was pretty busy, there was twenty or so people clearly doing the same thing, but there was also loads of dickheads hogging the bar ordering Strongbow and shit lager, yes I'm going to be snobbish, it's an 'ale trail' piss off to your local pub and get out of my way you Barry Chuckle looking motherfuckers. Who drinks at stations other than ale weirdos like ourselves anyway?
As good as it gets for a pub situated on a station's platform, a great choice of beer too, spending an hour here but trying to pace oneself meant two and a half pints. Starting off with a pint of Empire Anxiety (3.8%) quite apt as some badly dressed ruffians with more scars than Tony Montana breathed down the back of my neck at the bar, then it was Partners Ghost (4.5%), Hornbeam Voyager (3.9%) or fire engine as the bar maid thought I'd asked for. Fucking fire engine?

A group of men came in all wearing flatcaps and tweed jackets, that's the spirit. The hour had come and gone, I ogled some young girls waiting for a Manchester bound train in their little hotpants in the icy rain. Time for a quick slash and onto the next destination.





The interior of this place was really cool, loads of old station themed shite everywhere, original stained glass windows and net curtains looking out onto the opposite platform and hills in the distance. There was tons of old Brewery mirrors and pub paraphernalia everywhere, untouched since way back when. It was like sitting in a wacky Grandmother's living room without the stench of cats/piss. I liked it.


The next stop on the trail was Greenfield, we decided to swerve this as most of the train emptied at this point and I couldn't be arsed spending an hour in one little pub waiting to be served. Still desperado for a piss it was another ten minutes and onto Marsden in the Colne Valley.



I like Marsden, been here a few times, a quaint hilly backwater with some olde worldly shops, nice pubs, a river and a canal. With this funny little monument, what's not to like?

The Riverhead Brewery Tap is the choice pub on this crawl, there's a couple of others too, I've visited the Tunnel End Inn; a favourite of hikers, a few times and it was sad to see that one currently closed. The sun was now shining and I enjoyed a Brewsters Blonde and Ossett Silver King (4.3%) brewed on site, sat next the local river.

Peter and Sue.



If you're doing this trail I'd recommend speed walking to the pub, or, you could even leg it when you get around the corner and nobody can see you, like we did. Otherwise it's ten deep at the bar and where's the fun in that? the next stop was Slaithwaite, literally less than two minutes away. Again as I said up there you'd be spending an hour in one little pub with all that rabble above, so we swerved that one too, rules are there to be broken.

Next stop and the last one for us was Huddersfield, having only ever visited this place for the football when my team were actually half decent, it was always a case of being shepherded from the station to their ground, (which I've always thought was one of the better modern day stadiums) and then straight back, so I'd never really had a good look. Proper Yorkshire town with real character, friendly locals and some good pre planned pubs.


After a quick detour to a Greggs for a dead cold vegetable pasty, classy fuckers us. We found The Sportsman, not on the list but a highly regarded local pub. Here we nabbed a couple of Hop's Cotch ales and bumped into Edward Norton...

The night was drawing in already and it was starting to piss down. We wasted about forty minutes getting slightly lost as we tried to find another boozer we'd sought out ourselves. A quick circuit of what seemed like the whole of Huddersfield itself we stumbled straight upon the one we were looking for, so not lost after all, here we were. The Rat and Ratchett.




This was a great local's pub with a fine choice of beer, we opted for Mallinson's Brewers Gold (3.7%) Rat Brewery's White Rat (4.0%), which was nicer than it sounded.

Them Clarks brogues I wore (up top) with crepe soles and uber socks, weren't too comfy, we must have walked about eight miles and supped as many pints so I was feeling shattered by this point. We headed back to the station where the last destination on the trail lay. The Kings Head.



As far as station pubs go this was great, it looked a bit like a shit social club at first with a crap carpeted stage and one too many kids. But it had some of the best choice on offer all day, cool sign with Jimi Hendrix on too. We opted for a Bradfield Farmers Blonde (4.0%), a superb pint I could easily drink all day.

The Head of Steam, also off the platform seemed a bit lairy looking and had bouncers on the door, so not too fussed we had run out of time by now, got the train homeward bound, still needing a slash.
Transpennine Ale Trail CD

4 comments:

  1. Another cracking inspiring "ale trail" read, wish my own version (rip off) of these ale trails were even half as good.

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  2. gutted you didnt shout me when you was in huddersfield! would have loved to buy you a pint!

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  3. Really interested to read an account of this from a real ale fan, as from the 15th May they are stopping lager being sold in the pubs to stop the numbers of Stella drinkers that are fighting, being sick and stopping anyone enjoying themselves. To top it off they are stopping Stag and Hens do's, large groups. With the hope that the Ale Trail will get back to it's roots.

    Have you tried the South Yorkshire route by the way, from Sheffield to Huddersfield, taking in Penistone on the why, rather good.

    Steve

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  4. Heard it might not be as straight forward as it seems, but let's hope so. Having to queue behind someone dressed as a foam penis ordering blue WKD isn't what it's about.

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