Taking on the Transpennine Real Ale Trail

The combination of a bank holiday plus nice weather, is the perfect opportunity to explore new places and try something a little different. Over the Easter break, I took on this trail between Manchester and Leeds with some real ale fans in the shape of my partner’s family, to see what all the fuss was about. For the full list of pubs featured, we have a dedicated publist on our main site here, www.useyourlocal.com/publist/transpennine-real-ale-trail-1787.

Now, there seems to be quite a discussion out there as to which end you should start and finish at, but I guess it depends where you want to be at the end of it. As we were all staying in Leeds, we decided to start furthest west and make our way steadily back. Starting at:

  • Stalybridge Buffet Bar – Found on platform 4 of Stalybridge train station, this is one of the very few remaining Victorian station buffet bars and dates back to 1885. Bigger than you think and packed out with station photographs and memorabilia, they had a large list of cask and craft ales to try. A stout, a bitter, a ruby, an IPA and a hand pulled local cider all made their way into our small group of 6. Mike later said this was the best pulled pint of the trail, whether it was because it was the first or because the rest blur into one, is still to be decided.
  • The Railway Inn – a hop, skip and a jump onto the next passing train, we made our way to the next stop. The Railway Inn is just opposite Greenfield train station, on the other side of the road, and a pub where you can really appreciate the beautiful views overlooking Greenfield Valley. Renowned for its live bands and jam sessions, this is where we realised from the “What’s on” board that the Ale Trail tends to be on a Saturday, but nonetheless, we enjoyed our round and made our way to catch the next train.
  • Riverhead Brewery Tap – a short 5 minute walk downhill from the station, this tap house is ideally placed in the picturesque village of Marsden. Glorious sunshine made us pick a table outside overlooking the river and by this point we were getting a bit peckish. Boasting of a pub, brewery and a restaurant all onsite, we enjoyed delicious dishes from BaoBros23, as well as taking advantage of the bar nibbles, pork pies and scotch eggs.
  • The Commercial, Slaithwaite – now this is where we started to deviate from the trail. We never actually made it to The Commercial, choosing to skip this stop as we realised we were never going to make all 8 before the trains stopped. It’s a shame as it looks like they have a great selection of local beers as well as from micro breweries across the country.
  • The Kings Head, Huddersfield – we also missed, but only because we wrongly thought it was the Head of Steam found on the same platform! You need to try the other end to find The Kings Head, a restored Victorian waiting room serving 10 real ales, 5 craft kegs, real cider, as well as the usual draught selection, bottles and cans.
  • Navigation Tavern – Back on track, we made it to Mirfield. A little more modern than the other pubs after their huge refurb, The Navi sits along the canal side just round the corner from the station, with a large outside veranda and decking area, perfect for watching the sun set. Owned by the same family for over 20 years, they have a reputation for serving the best beers, ciders and guest ales in the area and have been an Ambassador of Theakston’s real ales for over 15 years. Famous for its regular beer festivals and Navifest music festival, The Navigation Tavern is one to visit ale trail or not.
  • West Riding Licensed Refreshment Rooms – located on Platform 2 within Dewsbury station, we found a quiet little corner by the fire to enjoy. While eyeing up the large container of pork crackling on the bar, we only had time for a quick one here before running off to catch the last train to Leeds. Even from our brief visit you could tell this was a pub full of character, they have regular live bands playing, weekly meat raffles and even “I missed the train at Dewsbury” merch, which we almost did!
  • Cellar Bar, Bately – reliant on the trains meant we also missed the last pub on the trail. With a great selection of rotating guest beers, TV’s showing all the sports and what looks like a sun-trap of an outside area, you can see why some choose to use this as their starting point.

I have to say, the staff were of course great in all venues we visited, very friendly and welcoming, but we didn’t expect anything less! It was a great day, enjoyed by all, and hats off to those that do manage to keep to the train schedule and complete the trail in one.

Mike & Julie at pub number 3 in Marsden

With a variety of Ale Trails up and down the country, this is definitely one to add to your list, the beautiful scenery an added bonus. In the meantime, you can find a pub near you that serves real ale here: www.useyourlocal.com/real-ale-pubs; or use our search filters for Cask Marque accredited pubs and CAMRA members.

More than 500 pubs register for World’s Biggest Pub Quiz

More than 500 pubs have signed up to the World’s Biggest Pub Quiz, running from 9-15 May, with organisers PubAid confident this year’s event will hit an all-time high in pub participation and money raised for charities including Shelter, this year’s quiz partner. Find a local near you that’s taking part on our dedicated publist here.

A growing number of pub companies are supporting the quiz and encouraging their licensees to participate, Admiral Taverns, Ember Inns, Everards, Fuller, Smith & Turner, Greene King, Hall & Woodhouse, Marston’s, Punch Pubs, Robinsons, Shepherd Neame, St Austell Brewery, Star Pubs & Bars, Stonegate, Trust Inns and Wells & Co. Individual pubs are also signing up in significant numbers.

Pubs can register or find out more on the dedicated Quiz website: https://worldsbiggestquiz.pubaid.com/

For the first time, PubAid is working with online quiz platform Kwizzbit, which allows licensees to host a traditional, fun pub quiz on their smartphone, with technology making it easier to run and offering features that make it more engaging for customers and drive greater footfall into the pub.

PubAid co-founder Des O’Flanagan said: “We’re delighted with the response to the Quiz, and with two months til launch, we’re confident of many more hundreds of pubs signing up.

“After the pandemic forced us to take a break from the quiz last year, there’s definitely renewed enthusiasm among licensees for events that bring people back into the pub. The quiz is completely free for pubs to run, offers customers a fun evening and raises huge sums for many charities, including Shelter. We are looking forward to the most successful ever quiz in May!”

Homeless charity Shelter was chosen as the quiz’s new partner following the Covid lockdown. Currently, 91 families become homeless every day in England.  Money raised in the Quiz will help Shelter give information, advice and support to those facing homelessness. Pubs are encouraged to host the quiz in aid of Shelter, but have the freedom to support another charity, or divide funds raised between Shelter and a cause closer to home.

All pubs signing up to host a quiz will receive a free fundraising pack including posters and social media assets, to help them host a quiz that brings customers into their pub for a fun-filled evening that raises money for a worthy cause.

Chris Jowsey, CEO at Admiral Taverns, said: “We’re encouraging all our licensees to get involved in the World’s Biggest Pub Quiz, which is a fantastic opportunity to hold an event that brings the community together and raises money for charity.

“We’re pleased that the quiz is flexible, allowing licensees to run it at a time to suit them. It is also a good chance to support both local charities of their choice and the World’s Biggest Pub Quiz’s charity Shelter, whose support for those facing homelessness has never been more important. We look forward to quizzes taking place in Admiral Taverns pubs across the country in May.”

Kevin Georgel, CEO at St Austell Brewery, said: “Everyone loves a pub quiz and it’s great to be hosting this one back in the pub rather than on Zoom! At a time when so many people are struggling with housing, there’s more demand than ever for the services provided by Shelter; they are a worthy charity partner for the World’s Biggest Pub Quiz this year and we’re confident our licensees and customers will want to support them.”

Samantha Rhodes, Operations Director at Ember Inns, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting the World’s Biggest Pub Quiz this May. Pub quizzes are part of our DNA at Ember Inns and we know our teams and guests are looking forward to getting involved, having fun and raising much-needed funds to help tackle homelessness through the great work Shelter do across the UK.”

Max Newton, Head of Community Fundraising at Shelter, said: “We’re really encouraged by this response to the World’s Biggest Pub Quiz and confident that the momentum is building and we’ll see record levels of pubs participate in May. It’s great to see that a majority of pubs are choosing to support Shelter: every pound raised will help us to be there for anyone facing homelessness.”

The World’s Biggest Pub Quiz was launched in 2016 and has raised a total of £750,000 for hundreds of charities.

Celebrating World Book Day, one pub at a time

The Fable, Holborn, London

March 3rd 2022 marks the 25th anniversary of World Book Day in the UK, but why should schools have all the fun? Book-lovers rejoice, as we discover some impressive places to visit and raise a glass in.

On our main site, we have created a publist of the old stomping grounds of some of the world’s most famous authors, playwriters and poets, their favourites often mentioned in their work: www.useyourlocal.com/publist/literary-pubs-frequented-by-the-greats-1777.

Going as far back as Shakespeare, his regular London haunts and his last visited in Welford on Avon, where it is believed he contracted fatal pneumonia after stumbling home in the pouring rain!

We have listed those that were frequented by the likes of Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen, Beatrix Potter, George Orwell & C.S. Lewis to name a few. The Grapes, along with its deep history and famous patrons, can even count Sir Ian McKellen as one of its owners, well-known for bringing J.R.R.Tolkien’s Gandalf to life.

If you want to follow in the footsteps of classic characters, delve into a collection of adventurous bars inspired by Phileas Fogg. From his Mayfair residence to Aunt Gertrude’s Tavern & Gin Parlour, you can transport yourself back to the Victorian era, surrounded by artefacts and antiquities from Mr Fogg’s travels. The Society of Exploration is located only a stone’s throw away from Charing Cross station – the starting point of his famous voyage around the world! 

However, the loyal local can also be an oasis in the everyday hustle and bustle, the perfect snug area to cosy up in and get lost in the pages. Already featured Coppa Club, are great for exactly this, a “home from home”, local hang-out, designed for eating, drinking, meeting and unwinding. So, let’s discover some more!

  • The Sun, set-up its own community library within the pub after the village’s own closed, providing an essential resource and haven to locals in the area.
  • To the reverse effect, hidden amongst the bookcases of Piccadilly’s Maison Assouline, Swans Bar is described as a bastion of elegance and culture.
  • For book influenced décor, The Fable near Holborn Viaduct in central London, is anything but ordinary, inspired by the fantasy world of fairy tales and Aesop’s fables. 

Whether you want to absorb a part of history, immerse yourself within their creations or just hunker down with your prized paperback, we have a pub just for you. Sign up today and follow your favourites: www.useyourlocal.com/join.

Date change for The World’s Biggest Pub Quiz 2022

This year, The World’s Biggest Pub Quiz has been moved from March to May, to give pubs and charities the best possible results from the event as we still emerge from the latest wave of Covid infections and trading restrictions.

Taking place between 9th and 15th May 2022, it is completely free for pubs to run and is a fun event that brings everyone together, all while raising money for great causes.

Although pubs are encouraged to run the quiz between these dates, there is flexibility to host it at any time during May or in the first week of June to coincide with the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, to maximise fundraising opportunities. For further information and to register for the event, visit www.pubaid.co.uk/quiz.

Following the Covid lockdown, PubAid have teamed up with homeless charity Shelter this year as the quiz’s new partner. Pub’s taking part will have the freedom to support another charity too, or divide funds raised between Shelter and a cause closer to home. Currently, 91 families become homeless every day in England and money raised in the Quiz will help Shelter give information, advice and support to those facing homelessness.

PubAid founder Des O’Flanagan said: “All of us at PubAid and Shelter, our new charity partner, have been champing at the bit to run the Quiz again after Covid prevented us from holding it 2021.

“However, after taking soundings from the industry, it became clear that pubs are still battling with the impact of Omicron and focusing on the day-to-day rather than an event in the future. By moving the World’s Biggest Pub Quiz to May, we give licensees a chance to regroup after Covid and plan a fantastic event that brings customers into their pubs and raises money for Shelter and other charities.”

This year, the World’s Biggest Pub Quiz is working with online quiz platform Kwizzbit, which allows licensees to host a traditional, fun pub quiz on their smartphone, with technology making it easier to run and offering features that make it more engaging for customers and drive greater footfall into the pub.

Using Kwizzbit offers licensees a number of benefits over a traditional paper quiz. Instead of having to mark sheets, scores are calculated after every question to generate real time leaderboards, saving time and creating a competitive, engaging atmosphere. It’s also cheat-proof, as faster answers score more points, and it’s simple to run: all you need is internet access.

All pubs signing up to host the World’s Biggest Pub Quiz will receive a free fundraising pack including posters and social media assets, to help them host a quiz that brings customers into their pub for a fun-filled evening that raises money for a worthy cause.

Max Newton, Head of Community Fundraising at Shelter, said: “Everyone at Shelter is absolutely thrilled to be partnering with the World’s Biggest Pub Quiz in May. We’re looking forward to communities across the country coming together in their local pub to have fun and quiz. The money they raise will help us be there for anyone facing homelessness.”

The World’s Biggest Pub Quiz was launched in 2016 and has raised a total of £750,000 for hundreds of charities already!

Top Gastropubs of 2022

Earlier this week, this year’s Top 50 Gastropubs list was released, with The Unruly Pig in Suffolk taking the top spot, as well as picking up the highest climber award.

Now in its 13th year, The Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs celebrates the best food-led venues within the pub trade across the UK. Voted for by over 400 gastropub owners, food critics and industry experts, it is the ultimate foodie pub list with something for every taste.

The Unruly Pig, like many modern gastropubs, focuses on locally sourced seasonal menus, with a blend of pub classics and more restaurant-style dishes.

The top 10 from the list of 50 can be found below with Lancashire and Yorkshire shining through this year with 4 pubs in the top 5!

For more information, the full list and how to take part go to www.top50gastropubs.com

  1. The Unruly Pig, Woodbridge, Suffolk
  2. Parkers Arms, Clitheroe, Lancashire
  3. The Star Inn, Harome, North Yorkshire
  4. The Angel at Hetton, North Yorkshire
  5. Freemasons at Wisell, Clitheroe, Lancashire
  6. The Sportsman, Whitstable, Kent
  7. The Guinea Grill, London
  8. The Fordwich Arms, Canterbury, Kent
  9. The Mariners, Rock, Cornwall
  10. The Hand & Flowers, Marlow, Buckinghamshire