Saturday, 20 July 2013


Yes, I am sure you have heard this tiresome comment before, that it's grim up north - and it's all about industrial decay, terraced houses, whippet racing and eating tripe!

However, I would like to dispel some of those so called facts, by highlighting some of the rural splendour and excellent village pubs, here up north.

The area me and my 'chauffeur' comrade Andy, focused upon, was the stunning Ribble Valley and Trough of Bowland.

It was a glorious day, as Andy skillfully negotiated the narrow country lanes and hedgerows - as we arrived at our first  'watering hole'.

The Parkers Arms in Newton-by-Bowland, is a spacious, rural, traditional pub - with stunning, extended countryside views - and an excellent reputation for local cuisine and fine, cask ales.  

We got a friendly welcome - although I felt a little guilty slurping a pint of Bowland Brewery Sky Dancer, in the impressive and spacious beer garden - as Andy sipped a coke!

Onwards through the beautiful countryside, destination, the historical Hark to Bounty at Slaidburn - in the heart of the Ribble Valley.

The pub dates back to the 13th century. It's a lovely pub with low beamed ceilings and comfy surroundings. Natasha, behind the bar was a most helpful host - and after pulling a pint of Tirril's Amber Ale, she offered to show us the old courthouse on the first floor.

The room is now used for functions but it still looked in its original state. The stone steps at the front of the pub lead into this old former court of law.    

We had a most enjoyable time at this friendly pub - as we departed the lovely,secluded beer garden at the rear of this historical building.

Back on the meandering, country roads, we headed back towards home, via Long Preston and Gisburn. We had intended to stop at the White Bull - the only remaining pub in Gisburn - but it was shut - and it was after 5pm!

But the good news was we were on our way to a couple of fine
Pendle pubs we knew would be open. The first one being the Cross Gaits near Blacko.

Another traditional boozer. It had six cask ales on, and I plumped for the Marston's Single Hop, Amarillo. It was exceptional - refreshing, zesty and bursting with citrus flavours - mainly grapefruit.    

Final stopping off point was just up the road, in Blacko village. The Rising Sun is one of my favourite pubs. Set in a row of terraced houses, it's warm, cosy and friendly. A small hostelty, with five cask ales, a traditional snug room, comfy bar area, open fires and homemade, local food. 

It's run by John Ingham, who is quite an authority on beer, real ales and the industry in general. He is the editor of the local CAMRA magazine, 'Witch Ale' and his beer is always in superb condition.

I went for a Moorhouse's Blond Witch - a delicious, fruity and refreshing ale. Andy finished off with another coke - but I had treated him to a pint of beer in the previous boozer!

So, endeth the jolly jaunt around the Ribble Valley and Pendleside. The view was lovely from John's pub - as the sun was descending towards Pendle Hill.

Grim up North? Nah, think some of that ale has gone to your head!