Minibus Ramble: South of Royston

This year summer seems to be rather hit or miss, so July’s minibus ramble couldn’t of turned out much better than a gloriously sunny (and dry) evening visiting pubs south of Royston. Ray, our minibus driver, picked up six eager CAMRA members from the Half Moon in Hitchin who were joined by another two members at the first destination.

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These monthly trips are our attempt to get out to remote pubs in our branch area to promote more submissions of beer scores – an essential to qualify for the Good Beer Guide. The scheduled stops for this round: The Fox & Hounds and Chequers in Barley, The Tally Ho in Barkway, The Woodman in Nuthampstead, The Blind Fiddler in Anstey and The Golden Fleece in Braughing.

For most of the participants the delay to the first pint was long but the wait was eased by driving through the picturesque countryside; those who were facing the front were greeted by a gate-like structure attached to our first stop: The (recently reopened) Fox and Hounds. The offerings that whetted our palettes came from Falstaff Brewery with Barley’s Best and Fox’s Finest, and Cambridge Moonshine with Barton Bitter.

The Fox and Hounds, Barley
The Fox and Hounds pub sign

With a warm sun still out we set off to the next pub: The Chequers. An isolated but friendly Greene King pub, we were tempted with Greene King Abbot Ale and IPA as well as Morland’s Original Bitter. After a few demonstrations of Ringing the Bull (and subsequent laughs) we were on the road once more.

The group arrive at The Chequers
A demonstration of 'Ringing the Bull'

The Tally Ho provided us with Tring Brewery’s Mansion Mild, Buntingford Brewery’s Highwayman and Harlow Brewery’s Rebellion IPA. Beers were enjoyed while sharing thoughts on the pubs future plans, since sadly the landlord (Paul Danter) passed away recently – however Sue is keeping things running and the future of this great pub seems assured. Alas, we soon had to set off into the quickly fading daylight.

Tally Ho, Barkway
The Tally Ho pub sign

The Woodman in Nuthampstead was reached in the twilight, there was still enough light for those curious to read about the history just in the next field to it. Here we had the choice of Buntingford Brewery’s Polar Star, Adnam’s Bitter and Greene King IPA offered on gravity at the bar.

The Woodsman, Nuthampstead
Polar Star by Buntingford Brewery at The Woodsman

It was thoroughly dark by the time we reached The Blind Fiddler, but we were greeted by colourful lighting (and music – probably a local celebration or possibly a ‘disco night’). We all had Fuller’s London Pride as that was all that was available; under different circumstances there was space for another 2 ales.

The Blind Fiddler

It was clear that we were behind schedule by the time we arrived in The Golden Fleece in Braughing but the landlord was keen and welcoming. Hearty discussions about the changing recipes of popular ales were accompanied with the consumption of Wadworth 6X, Adnam’s Bitter and Wells & Young’s Waggle Dance. Thus ends another minibus ramble – our 6 intrepid, and somewhat the worse for beer, adventurers were deposited safely back at their respective stops. Our next minibus ramble is on 20th of August – we’ll be visiting pubs to the west of Hitchin. We hope to see you on the bus! (Members & non-members most welcome.)

The Golden Fleece pub sign


(Written by Kathlene Belista)

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