Monday, 11 October 2010

Visiting the nether regions

The Lovely Lisa and I spent the last week in the nether regions of Wasdale

The small village has two pubs, one with a brewery, and a hotel bar. But no shop. With priorities like that it sounded just the place for us. 

Our first bit of beer excitement happened en route when we called in at the Brown Cow Inn for a livener. There on the bar, calling to me, was a beer from Stringers, the renewably powered pro-situ brewery. At a modest 3.5% ABV Dark Country was a delight to drink with a fruity taste but not sweet or harsh in taste despite the black colour. I could have had a few more of these but for the fact I was driving.

We were staying at Woodhow Farm, which at one point seems to have tried rebranding itself as The Cumbrian Goat Experience. I think it would be fair to say has not been a massive success.  

Unusual tourist attractions do sometimes take off, like the nearby Sellafield nuclear power station for example, but it seems the masses aren't flocking to Cumbria to see goats. 

The nearby pubs were busy though, and we didn't waste much time getting ourselves down to The Strands. Their 3.8% session bitter 'Errmmm' was a delight on the first night, with I thought a hint of chocolate malt and some citrus flavoured hops. The owner refused to discuss such matters with me so this is only speculation. I wasn't quite as taken with the slightly stronger 'low flyer', but when we returned later in the week I thought the opposite. Such is life with cask beer. There was good food here too, and one night Lisa reckoned the guy behind the bar had been on telly with noted mountaineering expert Julia Bradbury, and I thought the guy he was chatting to sounded like the bloke off Gardeners' Question Time. 

The other pubs in the village weren't as good. The Screes was a Robinson's pub and I'm not very fond of their beers, particularly when they're on the turn, and the hotel bar was very plush but only had something dull by Yate's on. 

The Wasdale Head Inn at the other end of the valley was our other main haunt. Funny how all the routes off the mountains seemed to lead to its door. It was once home to the Great Gable brewery but that's now gone elsewhere, along with the beers. Some of the replacements were Grasmore Dark Ale and Loweswater Gold, favourites of ours from Cumbrian Legends, so we managed to wash away our disappointment.  

By extending our stay by a day at the climbing hut at Brackenclose we were able to stick around for the Wasdale Head Shepherds meet and Show.

There was a fell race a mate of ours was entering, and that was only one of the many attractions. There were lots of sheep too obviously, and some goats, but by that point I think we'd experienced enough of them, and you could cut the air with a knife the tension was so great during the walking stick judging. 

Once our mate was safely down it was back to the Wasdale Head Inn. The barman from the Strands and his mate were there, and I found out that the guy who sounded like the bloke off Gardeners Question Time was in fact Eric Robson,  the presenter of Gardeners Question Time and president of the Wainwright society. Which is interesting in that I could recognise his voice heard briefly in a pub, but slightly embarrassing as my friend knew who he was immediately. At least I know who Julia Bradbury is!



  1. "pro-situ brewery"

    I've read quite a lot about beer and a lot about Situationists; I even once wrote a blog post which I tagged with both "beer" and "pro-situ". Even so, I can honestly say that that's one phrase I never expected to read. Could you explain?

  2. Here's one for you:


  3. That goat Ed reminds me of you... I don't know why but it does.

  4. Phil: This post and this post from the Stringers blog caused me to raise an eyebrow or two and lead to the pro-situ brewery description.

    UncleMungo: Excellent, I actually know that speech. Well, the original but I could try working on the beer version.

    Rob: It's probably the horns.

  5. Blimey. There are more things in heaven and independent breweries...

  6. Indeed, I had a couple of anabaptists visit the brewery yesterday. Sadly I don't think they were in pursuit of the millennium, just looking for tips on expanding their homebrewing.

  7. Don't pay to know what you really think! Pull the wool over your own eyes!

    Ed, I'm glad you had a nice time. I'm sorry the goats didn't float your boat. But don't feel bad about The Screes, I don't believe anyone actually likes Robbies - people drink it while they're waiting to be drunk.

  8. To be honest I was quite glad there wasn't much in the way goat experiences to be had. And nice one with the Dark Country, great stuff!