A combination of excitement, fear and complete panic is now whirring round my head. A week today I head to The Strathmore Arms in Holwick, Upper Teesdale (in North Riding, Yorkshire or County Durham depending on your preferences). Why – just so that I can walk all the way back some 300 miles to the only other Strathmore Arms in England by the end of September. And write a few blogposts on the way.
As a lover of pubs and breweries since a young age (not much choice if you’re from Burton) as well as hill walking, a 300 miles stroll seemed like a good idea at the time. Doesn’t everyone need a challenge after leaving the shackles of full-time working?
Why the Strathmore Challenge – it’s all Google’s fault. Trying to find the date of the Hertfordshire Strathmore’s beer festival last year I googled Strathmore Arms and found another one in England. (Yes I know there’s another in Glamis, Scotland – The Strathmore Challenge II maybe.) Like flies to cowpats, the idea attracted fellow travellers and so for most of the journey I’ve an excellent cast of family and friends.
My walk takes me through some of the finest parts of England. Finest being defined as great walking, breweries and pubs. From The Strathmore at Holwick (beers being Strathmore Gold plus Allendale perfection) the walk heads down the Pennine Way with a first stop at the Tan Hill Inn – famous for being bleak, in the middle of nowhere and American Werewolves. Next it’s Askrigg and its Yorkshire Dales brewery and on to Kettlewell – hopefully the WI will have covered up by now. From there we saunter down Wharfedale stopping off at the brewery of the same name in Ilkley. Sadly it’s a Saturday so we’ll make do with the Boltmakers’ Arms in Keighley before a wistful look at Timothy Taylors.
After Bronte country it’s a couple of days of brooding moors around Greater Manchester before reaching Hayfield of TV’s The Village fame. On into the Peak District with a stop at Thornbridge Brewery at Bakewell and overnighting at Litton, no doubt bemoaning the fact that the Three Stags’ Heads at Wardlow Mires is shut for the night. Then a stroll through limestone country staying at the ancient Barley Mow at Kirk Ireton before heading to Burton. After a wave at Marstons and visits to Burton Bridge Brewery and the Tollgate at Calke I head through the hunting country of rural Leicestershire (Parish brewery) into small but perfectly-formed Rutland (Grainstore at Oakham).
From Uppingham I head south through Oundle (Nene Valley) and Shefford (Banks & Taylor) and after a final overnight in Hitchin it’s a short stroll to St Paul’s Walden to The Strath down south. After all those miles, breweries and no doubt the occasional pub, mine’s a pint.
And finally a quiz question: Which centenarian had connections to all three Strathmore Arms?
Note: I understand that these days it de rigeur for beer bloggers to reveal any free drinks. I can exclusively reveal that I will be welcoming any opportunity to taste with open arms. I might even write nice things unless it’s that mucky London beer that I’m offered.