Weather forecast was rain all day but my mum told me to “go and do that walk for me”. Fully kitted out for 6 miles of pavement bashing to the other side of Burton and a proper marathon distance for the day. I had a spring in my step, not many days when you’ve a brewery visit for 8 in the morning.
I passed Gates brewery (one bloke in a suburban garage) in Reservoir Road, Shobnall and the mighty Marston’s – bottler of most of Britain’s ales. The frontage buildings made me think – old fashioned veneer to a very modern business. On to the centre of Burton passing closed down pubs, Smoke Room etched on the windows of one.
Already soaked I get to the Burton Bridge Brewery. Always amuses me that what is reputedly Britain’s first micro-brewery has the now disparaging initials BBB – how wrong are the crafterati in this case. I went through the yard to the door marked reception knowing that the other side would be a bunch of cheery blokes. Morning – they turn round. You must be the walker. I am. You’re late they say with a smile. It’s all go as it’s the day to get the beers out to pubs but friendly chats, good wishes and a badge to wear proudly – I’m feeling better already.
Across the old Trent Bridge, a look up towards my old school then a slog up the Ashby Road out of town. Soaked but at least I wasn’t in the usual queue of cars trying to cross the river. Memories of family come flooding in, that will have to wait for a book. Get to Upper Midway and head across the fields in the direction of Foremark Reservoir – rolling wooded countryside but the rain keeps on coming. I call in at the Tollgate brewery but no one at home. All very tidy round here must be the cosmetic effect of the National Trust on the Calke Estate.
Now into the old Leicestershire coal-mining area around Whitwick and Coleorton. Scattered settlements and not even a bus shelter or church porch to eat my snap. Pass a pub that’s shut at Gelsmoor and feeling grumpy when I see a pub offering words of a friendly welcome. Cynically I think the reality will be, don’t come in here in those wet clothes. How wrong could I be?
The New Inn at Peggs Green is an Irish pub – not that mock Oirish nonsense and all false craic. These are folk who’ve known the pub trade all there lives, where it really does feel you’re part of the family and the regulars gently josh to make you feel welcome. I dripped happily and my tale unfolded and other stories were exchanged. Lovely Bass from a jug, and a Bath Ales rugby-themed beer as well as Pedigree. With its quarry tiles and little rooms it felt unspoilt, but in a perfect and gently ordered way. The pub as real hostelry, discuss. I’d now walked nearly 200 miles and found the New Inn. It was worth it to unearth a gem.
I pressed on happily passing the monastery of Mount St Bernard Abbey with long views to the north as the weather cleared across Charnwood Forest. Very strange, all stone walls and rocky outcrops – not what I’d expected. Under the M1 and across Beacon Hill, I’d made it to my destination of Woodhouse Eaves. Wet, exhausted but one pub and one brewery had made all the difference. Love ’em.