Tuesday, 10 November 2009
CAMRA's Peak District Pub Walks
Open Letter to Bob Steel,
author of CAMRA's Peak District Pub Walks
I am writing to thank you for the part you played in a short break that my wife and I spent out of town recently.
It was on the strength of your previous work, CAMRA's London Pub Walks, that I purchased your later effort on the Peak District.
The London book is without doubt the best book of pub walks in London that has ever been published and is an essential buy for anyone with an interest in London's pubs and their history.
Walking in Derbyshire is more of a stretch than a trot around three or four pubs in the Capital but my appetite was whetted when I saw that the British Guild of Beer Writers were hosting a seminar on Barley Wine at Thornbridge Hall, right in the middle of the Peak. Using your book as a guide we planned our visit.
Your book led us to our first stopover at the Old Poets' Corner in Ashover, a real find and surely one of the best real ale destination pubs in the country. One night here was not really enough but I was on a barley wine mission.
From here we drove into the heart of the National Park to our next stop The Monsal Head Hotel, which lies a mile or two from Thornbridge Hall. You describe the walk in this area as the best one in the book. We were not disappointed; riverside paths, a railway viaduct, open views and natural and industrial history; a ten mile walk pausing halfway at the Red Lion, a lovely pub on the village green, and finishing back at the hotel bar, a converted stables, which provides 5 real ales including local offerings from the brilliant Thornbridge Brewery. The hotel has slipped from the 2010 Good Beer Guide but I can vouch for the choice, service and beer quality - all excellent. The food served in the bar is the same menu as that offered in the hotel restaurant and proved to be first class. The hotel itself cannot be beaten for location and sits high on the hill overlooking the disused railway viaduct over the picturesque River Wye. Another real find that we will return to.
Bob, we had an absolutely excellent few days which would not have been nearly as good without your steer towards the best pubs and walks in the area. I will definitely be recommending CAMRA's Peak District Pub Walks to others. Thanks again.
By the way, I was hoping to attach the photo that should appear on page 66, the one in the book being use of "creative licence" but all the same a "red herring". Unfortunately, my camera was lost on a recent beer trip so that photo is also lost.