Saturday, July 9, 2011

Comments settings change

Just to let any visitors know, i have now changed the settings on the comments to this blog so that now anyone can comment and not just registered users, thank you for stopping by.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

10 Pubs Walk

Well, i sit here writing this, nursing aching feet after taking part in the 10 Pubs Walk between Chagford and Okehampton yesterday. A sometimes gruelling hike up and down hills, across fields and consuming ale (the easiest part).
The walk is an annual event around the villages between Chagford and Okehampton, Devon taking in some of the finest hostelries on the way all in aid of the Devon Air Ambulance Trust. Although it is called the 10 pubs walk on this years list there was 12 pubs spread over approximately 16 miles.

We started at the Sandy Park Inn just outside Chagford where a "free" bar (donations to the air ambulance) was on offer. When i arrived (just before 11.00 am) there was already a large crowd gathered and a party atmosphere in the air, apparently several groups had already set off, i made my way inside, which was also crowded, eventually getting to the bar just as the landlord rang time on the free bar, so i had to pay, but i don't mind paying for a good pint of Dartmoor Legend. I then proceeded outside to take in the atmosphere and the glorious sunshine.

After a while i realised that the crowd was getting considerably thinner so i decided that as i wasn't sure exactly where i was going, i too should start walking and set off down the road in a buoyant mood. A little further down the road the course was directed (with the help of some strategically placed yellow ribbons) over a stile and into a farmers field, it was now that i realised that we weren't going to be sticking to roads but a mix of roads, footpaths and bridleways.

Sometimes walking through lovely cool woods,
but at other times across open fields in what was now rapidly becoming a hot day (apologies for the camerashake it's hard to take a photo whilst walking and trying to watch where you step)

And so, it was on to the village of Chagford where the next two pubs on the list were, first came the Globe Inn, where due to the large number of people taking part it took nearly half an hour to get served this unfortunately became a standard for the day until the last few pubs. Here i enjoyed a pint of Exmoor Breweries 'Fraid Knot (10p per pint of which was being donated to the Dartmoor Rescue Group).
Then off down the road (approximately 200yrds) to the Ring Of Bells where it was so busy that the staff were serving JD and cokes, and Gin and Tonics in pint jugs, because they were running out of glasses. It was here that i was reliably informed that the next pub was a 3 mile walk away up and down 2 hills, apparently when you got to the top of the first you could see the people ahead reaching the top of the second, i laughed (fool me). So with that in mind at about 1.00 pm i set off for Throwleigh and the next stop on the list.
 By now a few clouds had started to appear in the sky but it was still quite hot, after a short downhill stint i hit the first hill, which seemed to go on forever with several "false crests" climbing this first hill nearly done me and i was close to giving up, but the thought of letting a whorthwhile charity down kept me going, that and the beautiful views.

Eventially i arrived at Throwleigh and the Northmore Arms, here again the service was a bit slow due to the number of people taking, about half an hour just to get from the front door to the bar, a walk of about 20 paces, and a further 10 to get served but nobody seemed to mind.
After a short rest it was off again through the church yard, across a couple of fields, over 3 or 4 stiles a couple of which were more like fences. From there we passed over a cattle grid and up onto the edge of Dartmoor for about a mile then over another grid and a short walk down the road where we arrived at Dunnee's Bar

Well when i say bar one of the residents had loaned the use of a small field opposite his house where a van was parked with a gazebo behind it a few hay bails scattered to sit on and a BBQ in full flow, the beer was served from barrels in the back of the van at £2 a pint with i believe all proceeds going to the charity. By the time i got there they had run out of food but i believe more was being fetched.

By now it was about 4.15, i had been walking for about 5 hours and had yet to arrive at the half way point, so i finished my pint and set off once more, relieved that this part of the journey was along roads and all downhill.
After about 30 mins i arrived in the village of South Zeal, which is where my brother lives so i popped in to the village green where their fayre and beer festival was in full swing to say hi, i didn't have a beer here but i did grab a burger and a brief rest. Then walked up the hill to the Kings Arms, a pub i know fairly well as its where i usually end up when visiting my brother, its also where i learnt of this charity walk.
From there it was a half mile walk along to South Tawton to the Seven Stars, some people had decided that because they had been to the odd pub here or there that weren't on the list, they would by pass this one, some just couldn't be bothered to walk the half mile to then walk another half mile back to end up in Sticklepath which was about quarter of a mile from the Kings Arms. However most of us did.
As i arrived at Sticklepath i met a flow of people who were walking down from South Zeal, (more missing out the Seven Stars) i was also meeting people who through the day had passed me but i in turn at some point had passed them. We were now approaching the Taw River Inn, pub number 8 on the list 3/4 of the way only 4 more left.
After enjoying a pint and a chat with some fellow walkers outside the Taw River enjoying a slightly overcast but warm early evening, i crossed the road to pub 9 the Devonshire Inn, where i met some walkers who were finishing there and not going on to Okehampton,( i didn't blame them for i knew what lay ahead en route to the next stop). Unfortunately i didn't take a photo of the Devonshire.
Until the walk between Chagford and Throwleigh this was the part i was dreading, Sticklepath to Bellstone, only about 2 miles but all uphill and a steep one at that. I was expecting to go up the road way but the organisers set out a course that followed the footpath up through the valley, so i dully followed.
I arrived at The Tors in Bellstone at about 8.00 pm where i ordered a beer and a bowl of chips and cheese. Once the chips were finished and i had finished talking to fellow walkers i headed outside to finish my beer and enjoy a semi celebratory cigar (semi because i hadn't finished yet but knew the hardest parts were all behind me, with only 2 pubs left the rest of the walk was all downhill). After the beer and cigar were finished myself and a few other walkers set off into the sunset......................
The final 2 pubs on the walk were both in the village of Okehampton the first being the Exeter Arms, sadly i was too busy talking and forgot to take a photo, after a short stop there it was on to the final pub of the day the Plymouth Inn, reaching there at about 10.30 pm.
So to sum up my day was spent covering approximately 16 miles, 12 bars, consuming 12 pints of ale in about 12 hours and raising just over £100 for the Devon Air Ambulance Trust (that was just my bit) in total the walk raised several thousand pounds of much needed money to keep the air ambulance flying, so a big thank you to everyone who sponsored me.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Occombe Farm Beer Festival 2010

This post is a couple of days overdue partly due to a recovery period and partly due to a delay in sorting out some photos, so i hereby apologise if anyone has been waiting to read it.

Well i suppose i ought to start at the begining, we arrived at Occombe Farm on the outskirts of Paignton to find the festival already in full flow (we arrived about 5.45 due to a delay in the free bus leaving Torquay, lucky for us as about 10 mins later one of the security staff told us that they had stopped letting anyone in unless they had prebooked tickets.) so we duly paid our entry fee, got our wristbands and free glass, taste notes and drink vouchers (these had to be bought seperatly at 4 for £5.00 or 8 for £10,00) and proceeded to the bar.

With so many ales to choose from it was hard to decide which one to start with so we just plunged into the crowd and selected one from whatever was infront of us i started with a South Hams Brewery offering of Devon Pride and handed over two vouchers (1 voucher = 1/2 pint, however we soon learned that if we got it half pint at a time we would get nearly 2/3-3/4 pint, this didn't work every time but it did most), i would love to add a list of all the ales we tasted but as it was my birthday the number of ales consumed and my memory is a little blurry.

Entertainment on the Friday was provided by Duke Johnson and the scorhers, a five piece rock band playing classics from the 60's right up to the modern day. The evening got better as it went including runing into some old friends (thats old as in the length of time i've known them not thier ages, lol). Sadly all too quickly 11 o'clock came and the first day was over so we proceeded to get the free bus back to Torquay, unfortunately we just missed one and had to wait nearl 45 mins for it to come back, this didn't matter as we were in a good mood due to the amount of ale consumed, the journey back to Torquay was a slow but joyous one with everyone laughing and a few even singing and waving to people we passed, it was slightly spoiled however by a few idiots who decided it would be fun to rip up a couple of the seats and throw them over the side of the top deck (it was an open top bus) this resulted in the bus being canceled for the saturday.
DAY 2.
Saturday the festival was due to start at 11.00 but i had decided that there wasn't much point rushing (nothing to do with the slightly foggy head, honest) so waking up about 11.30 i looked out the window and saw that it was raining, great, so i packed up a bag with some extra bits and ventured to meet my mate Steve in town and proceeded to the festival, getting there about 1.30, to find a slow starting second day (possibly due to the amount consumed the night before, Cahoot the band for the early part of the afternoon were in full swing and doing pretty good, these guys can oftenly been found playing at the Hole in the Wall in Torquay.
They were followed by Three Bags Full, by which time we had followed everyone else throw to the field at the back,where we spent most of the afternoon chatting with a nice couple from Cheshire (i think), the overall atmosphere was great with kids playing ball and adults milling and chilling out, the music drifting from the cow shed where the band were playing and the warm sunshine made it a very relaxing afternoon and at one point i could of quite happily stretched out and gone sleep, instead i went back to the bar and refilled my glass.

As the day wore on and afternoon became evening one by one the barrels started to run out, however the crowd became bigger and by 7.00 they had stopped admitting anyone that didn't already have a ticket. Still the rain that had threatened in the morning held off and the burger stand and hog roast appeared to be doing a roaring trade. As was the farm shop and pancake stand (my only complaint at this point which also applied to fri night was that the toilet facilities seemed inadiquate  1 ladies "block" 1 gents, with 3 urinals and about a dozen porta-loos consequently ques were long and the bushes were getting a good watering).
The evenings entertainment was a 10 piece soul band called SOULFUNCTION who were absolutely amazing and soon got the crowd jumping with songs from the Comittments, Blues Brothers and many more. Gradually the pace of barrels running out increased and by 10 oclock all cider had gone and they were down to about a dozen ales, so i joined the queue to get my last one for the day and use up the tokens i had left by getting a half litre to take home (well it was supposed to be 1/2 of a 4 pint milk container but was closer to 3/4), my final choice was Bays Breaker and once purchased i returned to the balcony above the shop with Steve to enjoy the final set of the entertainment before catching a taxi back home and collapsing into bed.
Overall it was a great festival with fantastic entertainment, good food but most importantly an abundance of great tasting west country ales, spoiled only by the idiots who caused damage to the bus on Friday night and the misinformation given to some friends of mine when they turned up on saturday, after being there on the friday, with glass and fridays wrist band in hand to be told they had to pay £4.50 to get in when it should've only been £2.50 each, consequently they decided on principle not to come in, Alan and co. you were missed mate. Roll on next years festival.
Click here to view more photos from the festival

And here's a list (as best i can remember) of ales i tried :-

Bays Brewery - Topsail, Beery Head (both new ales), Breaker
Branscombe Vale Brewery - A Pint of Two Halves
Clearwater Brewery - Proper Ansome, Devon Darter
Coastal Brewery - Relentless Sea
Cotleigh Brewery - Tawney Owl
Countrylife Brewery - Black Boar
Exe Valley Brewery - Beerwolf
Gidleys Brewery - Spinney
Hunters Brewery - Denbury Dreamer, Pheasant Plucker
Jolly Boat Brewery - Mainbrace, Heart of Oak
Red Rock Brewery - Lighthouse
South Hams Brewery - Devon Pride
St. Austell Brewery - Dartmoor Best Bitter
Teignworthy Brewery - Neap Tide
Yeovil Ales Brewery - British Summer Time

At somtime in the near future i will add these to my taste notes page.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Well peeps the big day has arrived, yep today is the first day of the Occombe Farm Beer Festival, starting at 5.00 pm, i'm sitting with taste buds tugging at their leash in eager anticipation. Not quite sure about the condition i'll be in by the end of the day (it's also my birthday so i don't think i'll be walking quite as straight as when i arrive) so any posting that i'll do wont be until sunday.
For anyone going I'll see ya there.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Expensive beer but a lovelly view

Before i go any further I'm gonna apologise to anyone who has been checking in on this blog for it's lack of activity of late, to be honest i haven't actually done that much or tried many new beers, i promise i will try harder in future.
Now on to my latest news, on Tuesday i had the pleasure of enjoying a day off with some beautiful weather so i decided to venture down to Babbacombe Beach and visit the Cary Arms, (my first visit to this pub since it was bought and refurbished by Peter and Lana De Savory.
As i entered the bar i spotted 4 or 5 hand pumps sadly only one ale was available, so i had to settle for an Otter Ale, but was then shocked when the barman asked me for £3.40, (no that's not a misprint) however with the nearest bar about 250 feet above me via a steep, winding hill i paid up without complaint, and proceeded to the terrace to take a seat. The compensation for paying that much for a beer is the relaxing sound of waves gently lapping at the beach just a few feet below and the beautiful view across Babbacombe bay and out towards Exmouth (that's if there's no mist like on my visit) that is only interrupted by the occasional car struggling to make it up the hill.
My overall thought is that although the price is a little over the top the view, peace and tranquility is worth it, a bit of advise though walk down but then walk across the bridge that links Babbacombe Beach to the neighbouring Oddicombe Beach and ride the cliff railway up.

Finally a little reminder to anyone visiting Torbay next week the Occombe Farm Beer Festival is on 4th and 5th June, SEE Y'ALL THERE!!!!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Occombe Farm Beer Festival

Well folks here's some great news for all beer news in the South West area Occombe Farm Beer Festival is almost upon us. This year it's the 4th and 5th June and features over 60 real ales from across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, as well as live music and deliicious food.

Tickets are £4.50 each day or £7.00 for both days and runs from 4.30 till 11.00 Friday 4th and 11.00 am till 11.00 pm Saturday 5th.

So grab ya glass and ya taste buds and i'll see ya there.

For further details goto the Occombe Farm website

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Turkers Maltings beer festival

Yes peeps its that time of year again, that wonderful time of sunny days but more importantly BEER FESTIVALS, as mentioned in my previous posting JDWetherspoons have been runing a festival over the past couple of weeks. This weekend the attention turns towards Newton Abbott for the annual Tuckers Maltings beer festival with a line-up of around 300 ales. This is one of the most prestigious festivals on the SW calender. Sadly due to work commitments i am unable to join in, but hope anybody who is going has a great time.
Another festival coming up is the Occombe Farm beer festival not sure about the exact dates yet but is usually the first week in June, i'll post more details as soon as i can.