September 2012 - Fenman heads North West
Fenman recently crossed county borders to venture north west in his quest to seek out pubs and beers of the area using eco friendly train services.
From his home county of Cheshire the train took him further north west changing at Lancaster, through Carnforth - of Brief Encounter fame, crossing the estuary of River Kent to Grange-over-Sands, and Barrow-in-Furness all with sandy coastal views, then Ulverston.
After a visit to the Laurel & Hardy museum along with films and the necessary touristy photoshoots it was time to seek out the Stan Laurel Inn of GBG fame. This unpretentious black and white (how apt) pub is easily missed as it has no inn signs other than a sandwich board by the front door. There is no lack of beer memorabilia inside however with 4 LocAle pumps, 2 of which are from the town's brewery, Ulverston, with My Home Town and Stringers No. 2 Stout. In addition Keswick Thirst Fall and Greenodd Kiln. The Inn offers Stan's Headscratcer - 3 thirds of your choice for £2.60 and the blackboard announces Awaiting Perfection - next brews on, in this case Copper Dragon, Derwent Cross Bay, Slater Vale and Newmarket. The bar area is decorated with hundreds of pump clips of previous beers. Also in the GBG the Devonshire Arms is one not to be missed with 6 beers on including Guzzler from York, Ghost Ale, Corby, Pavilion, Detention and American Invasion.
Continuing northwards the next day more coastal scenery to arrive at Ravenglass station and the renowned Ratty Arms, the converted station building with Ennerdale Copper and Darkest, plus Boondoggle and Cocker Hoop.
Reluctantly Fenman dragged himself away and walking past the Eskdale narrow guage railway plodded the 1.5 miles to Muncaster Castle for a luxurious overnight stay in the Coachmans Quarters, overlooking the World Owl Centre. Returning to Ravenglass the route forever northwards along the coast and the, by now, choppy Irish Sea. The train ran through Seascale and St Bees with their tough looking links golf courses, and rugby league famous Whitehaven and Workington to Carlisle. Fenman might have just missed the cycling Tour of Britain but did manage to pop into a pub that featured star riders in the papers that day, the Kings Head, one of the oldest pubs in Carlisle, for a drop of Yates bitter and O'Hanlon's Red. Penrith being the next port of call and overnight stay (in Room 101 eek!) at the Agricultural Hotel, conveniently just a hundred yards or so from the station. A good range of Jennings beers were the order of the day here along with huge evening meals and breakfasts. The attractive Lowther Arms, tucked away in Penrith back streets, had Lancaster Bomber, Hooky (quite a pleasant surprise as Hook Norton is one of Fenman's favourite breweries), plus 3 regionals. A lively discussion with the landlord on the merits of regional / national breweries proved inconclusive.
The journey back south, was beer-free, readers will be relieved to hear. All in all an excellent trip with trains on time, lovely scenery, grand pubs and ranges of beers all in good condition.
Fenman dropping a hint that he might be considered for a knighthood.