The Black Bull Inn Skipton Road, Kettlesing Head, North Yorkshire
Visited: 15/11/03 for tea after Alan Birney's Yorkshire Tour
The Black Bull used to be an old coaching house on the Skipton to Harrogate road. Nowadays it still welcomes trans-Pennine travellers with promise of good food and traditional ales. We had spotted and earmarked it on the way to the first tower of the day, so we decided to stop off here for tea. Inside there were three large dining rooms around the ample bar. A mesmerising collection of brassware adorned the walls on all sides, and a real fire burned with welcome warmth in one corner. The food was very good value though nothing overly special, and the puddings we sampled were good. A trio of cask conditioned ales were on pump to help wash down the meals. The service wasn't top notch but with the bargain food prices we couldn't really complain.

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click for larger image The Black Bull Inn
click for larger image Adam and Chris tuck
into their puddings
Black Sheep Brewery Masham, North Yorkshire
Visited: 17/08/02 for lunch during an outing organised by Halifax's ringers
No need to spend ages searching for a decent pub on this trip, the matter had been taken care of in advance with an organised lunch at the Black Sheep Brewery. There was a good selection of specialist ales available at the bar (Phil made sure he sampled quite a few), a sizeable dining area and well-stocked souvenir shop. The choice of main meals wasn't overwhelming and many of the dishes included alcoholic ingredients from behind the bar. A small range of sandwiches and snacks was also available. Unfortunately we didn't have time to go around the Visitor Centre adjacent to the restaurant section.

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Britannia Inn Commercial Street, Tadcaster, North Yorkshire
Visited: 15/11/03 for lunch during Alan Birney's Yorkshire Tour
We drove around Tadcaster looking for a lunch venue and stopped at the Britannia on Alan's recommendation. The pub overlooks the River Nidd in the centre of a town dominated by its three breweries. Thankfully the landlord had chosen to stock the better of Tadcaster's ales on pump: Samuel Smith's Old Brewery Bitter. The menu was very limited but excellent value for money, and none of us was disappointed with the food. The pub was split into two areas by the central bar, in addition there was a family dining room where we ate. The service was okay but the ambience was a little flakey, there being a slight "working man's club" air.

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click for larger image The Britannia Inn
stands beside
the River Nidd
The Buck Inn Kiln Lane, Paythorne, Lancashire
Visited: 02/08/03 for tea during a Gisburn and Thornton branch meeting
Occupying a central position in a small hamlet, the Buck Inn is the only pub for miles. We arrived just before the main meals were being served, so we had to content ourselves with some bar snacks. Our initial disappointment was soon subdued however, as the baguettes and jackets we'd ordered were piled high with side salads, chips and dips. A few decent drinks we on tap to swill down the tasty food. The barroom and restaurant formed an L-shape around the bar itself. The interior design was a bit flowery and old fashioned in the eating section, and a strange cloying smell, presumably from the pot pourri dotted here and there almost put us off our food.

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click for larger image Scoffing bar snacks
at the Buck Inn
Darlaston Inn Meaford Road, Stone, Staffordshire
Visited: 06/12/03 for lunch during Rod's Staffordshire Outing
The first pub we tried was a dingy looking building next to a golf course, complete with nosey local players, so stumbling across the Darlaston Inn was a relief. As a chain pub, it offered a "two for one" deal on all main courses 365 days a year - a definite plus point! In order to make sure we got the most for out money, the three of us ordered a fourth meal for free to share. Thankfully the waitress didn't come back over mid-meal to ask us how our food was, otherwise we might have been rumbled. :) The atmosphere was a bit cool despite the beginnings of festive decoration, and the range of beers on sale over the bar was abysmal. It was as good a place as any for a quick lunch break though.

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click for larger image The Darlaston Inn
click for larger image Adam and Paul
feeling stuffed
Dragon's Head Main Street, Whittington, Lancashire
Visited: 27/09/03 during Colne's Three Counties Tour
After bypassing the King's Arms and Whoop Hall at Kirby Lonsdale, we finally settled on the Dragon's Head for lunch as it was near our fifth tower of the tour. A modest but very reasonably priced menu offered a selection of traditional home-cooked meals, with a special's board boasting some more usual dishes. The bar was quite well stocked and the compact pub decorated in the traditional way with much brass in evidence. The pub was split into three rooms, two of which were small dining areas, though we ate in the barroom. An interesting contraption hung above the bar itself, a note declared it to be a "the original adjustable dog carrier", though pity any canine caught in it!

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click for larger image The Dragon's Head
click for larger image An adjustable dog
carrier - ouch!
Golden Lion Duke Street, Settle, North Yorkshire
Visited: 31/08/02 for lunch during Colne's 2002 Summer Tower Tour
Phil opted for this pub after spotting it in the Good Pub Guide. Quite a horde of ringers arrived after the morning grabs, around twenty in all, heading for the busy bar before venturing into the richly appointed and well set out dining area. Living up to its reputation, there was quite a variety of food available. Unusually for a pub a selection of home-cooked pizzas were listed so over half of us went for these. The grub was well cooked, served with a smile and certainly sated our appetites.

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Golden Lion, Settle
Hare & Hounds Old Skipton Road, Colne, Lancashire
Visited: 15/12/02 as part of our Christmas social
This was the venue for our 2002 Christmas meal. We had booked in advance and were pleasantly surprised at the table decoration complete with Christmas crackers! The heating was more than ample for a cold December evening with a real log fire and hidden radiators. We all plumped for the set menu with either melon or an excellent (though almost cold) spicy tomato soup to start. The roast turkey and beef main courses were wholesome and tasty, the desserts were okay, and we had coffee and mince pies to finish. Overall the drinks were also good and the place had a warm, friendly atmosphere.

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click for larger image The Hare & Hounds
click for larger image Too many mince pies
The Hare & Hounds Werneth Low Road, Werneth Low, Greater Manchester
Visited: 11/10/03 for lunch during the Joint Branch Outing
This pub was chosen for its location, being directly between two towers on the tour, and also for having an unrivaled view over the city of Manchester. Inside the pub was very homely with old-fashioned thick wooden tables and chairs, beams and niches aplenty. The main and bar snack menus were quite extensive, with a wide range of dishes on offer (though watch out, the game may contain shrapnel). A modest trio of real ales were on tap besides the usual lagers and ciders. Adam almost gave us a heart attack when he opted for half a bitter rather than lager! Our meals arrived well presented and very palatable as we listened to the background classical music. A very nice place to eat with fiendly staff and good food.

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click for larger image Outside the large
Hare & Hounds
click for larger image Adam supping
some real ale!
Hopper Lane Hotel Hopper Lane, Blubberhouses, North Yorkshire
Visited: 05/05/03 after ringing at 19 towers during the YACR's Leeds Branch Open Day
After ringing at 19 towers without any lunch we were in need of food and beer as soon as possible. This was by far the nearest pub to the last ring of the day and boasted real ales and fine food. We were told a table would not be available for 45 minutes, though admittedly it was a sunny Bank Holiday and the place was busy. We patiently sampled some of the ales on offer while we waited but there was still no sign of food. We collared the head waitress to enquire about our table and were almost told it was too late to order, until we explained that we had in fact already been waiting for three quarters of an hour. Cutlery and napkins were brought to our table near the bar and we ordered from the rather limited menu. We finally tucked in over 90 minutes after entering the pub. The food was well presented though nothing special, but we could have eaten anything after such a lengthy wait.

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click for larger image Hopper Lane Hotel
click for larger image Grub's up at last!
Kings Arms Grains Bar, Oldham, Greater Manchester
Visited: 26/04/03 following the Lancashire Association's AGM tour
Initially we had intended to eat at the Roebuck, following its recommendation in the Good Pub Guide, but for some bizarre reason it was closed at 4.30pm on a Saturday, so the Kings Arms was our second choice. It turned out to be quite a family-oriented pub with a reasonable selection of food and a standard array of drinks available over the bar. (The premiership results being broadcast on a big screen and over the radio were an added bonus.) Our meals were quite well presented and enjoyed to varying extents by all. Overall quite a good eatery and its wholesome food certainly filled our empty stomachs.

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click for larger image At the Kings Arms
click for larger image Tucking into tea
Massala Room Skipton Road, Foulridge, Lancashire
Visited: 20/12/03 for our Christmas meal
We fancied a break from the norm for our 2003 Christmas meal so ventured to the closest Indian restaurant to Colne for some Asian delicacies. It was a miserable evening so we were glad to get inside the large, contemporary eatery, the table complete with crackers and party poppers. After some debate all seven of us plumped for the gourmet banquet option. The varied starters were excellent and replete with poppadoms and dips. Then came the main courses, five different curries in all, with naan bread, rice and blow-your-mind chillies. The food was very good and was in endless supply, and was washed down well with the Indian lager on tap. We had a merry night followed by a nightcap at the Pickup household.

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click for larger image Ready to scoff
the main courses
click for larger image Phil and Chris
in the Xmas spirit
Poacher's Cottage Stone Road, Trentham, Staffordshire
Visited: 31/03/01 for tea during the 2001 Ringing Roadshow held at Keele University
We had ventured down to Keele University for the Ringing Roadshow and, in Joanne and Paul's case, to revisit our home of four academic years. Out of ease we choose another Brewer's Fayre with its familiar selection of food and pretty reasonable prices. The Poacher's Cottage wasn't much different to the other chain pubs we'd eaten in, though it did seem a wee bit darker and less friendly.

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Roman Way Lincoln Road, Newark, Nottinghamshire
Visited: 16/11/02 for lunch during the Southwell Diocesan Guild's Open Day
This large pub on the outskirts of Newark was a Brewsters, a sub-division of the Brewer's Fayre chain. As such the food was well priced and good value for money but the selection of beers on offer was limited. It was very busy and we arrived in the nick of time to get a table before the lunchtime rush. Our waiter for the day was quite a self-confident and at times sarcastic chap. Overall it wasn't a bad placed for a spot of dinner, though we overdid it with the puddings....

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The Royal Oak Kirkgate, Ripon, North Yorkshire
Visited: 01/02/03 for lunch during a trip to Ripon Cathedral and three other towers
After scouring the streets of Ripon for a likely place to eat - all of the pubs seemed uncharacteristically quiet for a Saturday afternoon - we eventually settled on The Royal Oak. This was a city centre pub (though Ripon is hardly the size of a city) with wooden floors and a somewhat country feel. The fairly pricey menu had a choice of main meals, jacket potatoes and sandwiches, with more dishes available via the specials board. The service wasn't fantastic and, once our meals arrived, some of us were less than satisfied with their quality. Those who had chips said they were undercooked and the steak was poor - even the lager seemed a bit off too. Overall not the best place we've been, especially considering the prices. Then again, apparently it is Prince Charles' favourite public house in Ripon....

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click for larger image The Royal Oak
Stanley's Liscard, Cheshire
Visited: 09/10/04 for lunch during the Joint Branch Outing
Stanley's was actually our second choice lunch venue after the Albion Hotel in New Brighton, but this was a decidedly seedy joint and we were very glad we opted for the backup plan. Set on its own near the centre of Liscard, externally Stanley's looks rather Mediterranean but inside there is a decidedly ecclesiastical theme with bare brick walls, church pews for seats and crosses carved into the bar panelling - quite appropriate surroundings! This pub is obviously geared towards the full range of generations with TVs dotted about the place to air MTV and Sky Sports, a modest menu range, and real ales to suit any palette. Stanley's generally had a nice atmosphere though the bar staff seemed less than welcoming on the day we went at least. The beer on tap and cask ales available were pretty good and the food was tasy and moorish. A pretty good pub for a bite to eat.

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click for larger image El Stanley's - Ole!
click for larger image Tucking into lunch
The Stork Inn Conder Green, Lancashire
Visited: 29/11/03 for lunch during Colne's Four Branches Tour
Before visiting The Stork we'd checked it out in the Good Beer Guide and on-line. Duncan, the proprietor, was more than helpful in making arrangements before the day, sending us an extensive menu and allowing us to pre-order our meals on the morning of the trip. When we finally arrived at the pub we were not disappointed. Plenty of wood surround and a real fire enhanced the warm atmosphere, and we were immediately directed to our tables at the far end of the spacious dining room. Three real ales were on pump, including Landlord and Marston's Pedigree, as well as a range of lagers. Our meals were served quite quickly and everyone enjoyed the delicous food. Those of us tempted enough to order a pudding were very glad they did - Adam's slice of cheesecake was huge! The waitress even calculated each person's bill separately. The icing on the cake came when we reached Cockerham and realised we'd left the kitty tub in the pub, but the management had found it and set it aside - thank you one and all!

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click for larger image The Stork features
in the Good Beer
& Good Pub Guides
click for larger image Mmm...cheesecake!
The Swan Station Road, Marsden, West Yorkshire
Visited: 01/03/03 for lunch during Liverpool Branch's outing into West Yorkshire
We arrived here after bypassing two other candidates on the A62. There was a small barroom with five or six tables and a roaring open fire in addition to a separate restaurant room, though we choose to eat in the bar area. The menu proffered a range of traditional English fayre with steaks, gammon, fish dishes and poultry at average prices - a selection of starters and some side orders were also available. On the whole the food was well cooked and served in generous portions, and some of the specialist bitters were enjoyed. The only real complaint was the rather tepid state of the otherwise delicious onion gravy accompanying the giant Yorkshire puddings.

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click for larger image The Swan, Marsden
click for larger image Enjoying the food
The Tempest Arms Elslack Lane, Elslack, North Yorkshire
Visited: 04/03/00 for lunch before a branch meeting at Thornton-in-Craven
A fairly large country pub just over the Lancashire and Yorkshire border. The interior was well appointed and conveyed a warm ambience with homely decoration and spaces for real fires. We only sampled the bar snacks rather than full meals as we didn't have a great deal of time. We had a call from a fellow ringer before we had finished eating, she was stuck half way to Thornton with car trouble, so Brian and Kevin rushed off to help. In the meantime we had to leave for the branch meeting, but the staff were kind enough to wrap the half-eaten meals so we could reunite them with their purchasers at the tower. Thumbs up for service!

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Wharfedale Gate Leeds Road, Ilkley, West Yorkshire
Visited: 09/09/00 for tea during a ringing trip organised by the Whalley band
Our first ringer's pub meal as a group so we played it safe and went to a Brewer's Fayre. We'd been ringing around the Yorkshire Dales all day and didn't reach Ilkley till practically tea time. As usual the menus offered plenty of traditional and more unusual dishes. The interior was decorated to typical chain pub standards with the odd touch or local influence to set it off.

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The White Horse Kingsbury Road, Curdworth, Warwickshire
Visited: 06/12/03 after ringing at fourteen towers on Rod's Staffordshire Outing
Thankfully we didn't have to drive very far from Curdworth's three-bell church before stumbling across The White Horse. It was part of the Vintage Inns chain, like Ye Old Sparrowhawk in Wheatley Lane, but the menu had been extensively amended since we ate there. It was a large pub with a family atmosphere. A few real ales and wide range of other drinks were available to complement the food. The meals were priced slightly above average, though were generally of very good quality. Amazingly, Adam thought his cajun chicken dish was "absolutely superb" - we couldn't belive our ears! We enjoyed the food which kept us going on our long trk back north via the M6 and Spaghetti Junction.

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click for larger image The White Horse
at night
click for larger image The meal that
impressed Adam!
Ye Old Sparrowhawk Wheatley Lane Road, Wheatley Lane, Lancashire
Visited: As part of a Colne bellringers social
This was the scene of our first bellringer's dining social and offered a welcome respite on a wet winter's day. As part of the Vintage Inns chain, the choice of food was predictable though quite varied. We sampled and, for the most part, enjoyed a range of dishes followed by an equally diverse array of puddings (though Chris nearly lost a few teeth crunching his way through a rather overdone fruit brulee). The decor was reasonably cosy if a little contrived and the service ample. The only downside to the establishment was the cost of drinks, which were exhorbitantly priced to say the least. Not a bad place for a friendly meal out.

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The Young Vanish Blackwell Lane, Glapwell, Derbyshire
Visited: 21/06/03 after grabbing 30 towers on the DDA's Peak District Open Day
After an extremely long and no-holds-barred day of tower grabbing, what more could you ask for than a hearty meal and a place to put your feet up? The enigmatically named Young Vanish certainly provided wholesome, filling food as part of the Brewer's Fayre chain, their half roast chicken being particularly tasty on the day. We finally managed to find the place after initially heading the wrong way along the A617, and a welcome sight it was. The decor was typical Brewer's Fayre with a light, airy atmosphere. The service was good and the meals arrived promptly to say it was nearly nine o'clock at night. The only real downside was the drinks on offer, which weren't exactly mouthwatering in variety or flavour. Good but not great, an opinion probably further enhanced by a long day on the road.

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click for larger image The Young Vanish,
named after a
winning racehorse
 
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