No half measures at the Romping Donkey?
Inset from the canal, we have happy memories from this pub from a previous voyage (we think from way back in 1997!) Hassall Green is part way through a flight of locks known as ‘Heartbreak Hill’ – there are 26 locks between Middlewich and Hardings Wood Junction before the canal dives under Harecastle Hill. About half way through, this 17th century watering hole will have seen many a boatsman.
Inside the Romping Donkey
Ales on offer were Abbott Ale and Old Speckled Hen, we opted for Abbott still having to tackle a few locks. It was served well, though a larger range would be nice! The menu looked average (this is where the pub scored highly on our last visit) though the staff were very helpful. It was very quiet – Saturday afternoon – which was sad to see. Being so close to the canal it has lots of potential – in fact there was even a poetry plea inside the pub for locals to support it – not a good sign.
A poetic plea to save the Romping Donkey
The Romping Donkey, Hassall Green
More photos on flickr.
The Stanley Arms, Anderton
Situated just above (and round the corner) from the Anderton lift, this pub is ideally placed to rake in the canalside trade – in fact it even had it’s own private moorings all full as we sailed past. The building is well kept and from the outside the smoked glass actually reads ‘Stanley Vaults Arms’. A games room can be found off to one side.
A large proportion of the pub is devoted to the food sales. As we had already well brunched and weren’t interested in food this mean we were confined to the relatively small ‘public’ bar. 3 ales on offer: John Smith’s cask, Jenning’s Cumberland and Moorlands/GK Old Speckled Hen. First up was the Cumberland which I found to be a bit of a disappointment. Not enough to send back, but a little hazy and with a nasty ‘next morning nose’. A 2nd pint – Smiths this time was perfectly fine if expectedly bland.
Smiths in Mono
The Leigh Arms
A large pub, set just off a major road (the A49) – a seriously major road judging by the traffic and dead rabbit. This was probably a coaching house judging by the position and references to Leigh Arms Hotel. Architecturally it’s pleasant inside – large vaulted ceiling and for comfort there are large leather arm chairs to relax in.
Inside the Leigh Arms
4 hand pumps offering 3 beers, with one pump dedicated to cyder. 2 for Robinson’s standard – Unicorn bitter and one for a summer special (Dizzy Blonde). I went for the Unicorn which was nice enough as a standard bitter and reasonably priced at £2.65 pp. My parents opted for the Dizzy Blonde and felt it was a bit of a disappointment at £2.95 pp – though this is rural Cheshire remember! Food smelt great through we had already eaten so we didn’t check it out.
The Blue Barrel, Northwich
No real ale on offer, but friendly local c. 10 minutes walk from our moorings at Hunts Lock. Opted for a pint of Mann’s Chestnut Dark Mild (Keg) which was ok, predictably dead and smooth but pleasant enough. Plenty of pub games in visible and plenty of locals – even on a Tuesday night – keeping the place alive. Apart from the lack of ale, the main downside was the dreadful music – we had to sit through the New York Empire State of Mind track repeated a few times. I guess someone bought the CD single.
The Penny Black, Northwich
A Wetherspoons house, formerly Northwich post office. Large expansive bar area, behind a suitably grand Tudor pastiche frontage. Enjoyed a pint of Thornbridge ‘Brother Rabbit’ and the Tuesday steak club. Beer was well presented and there were 10 handpumps on offer – though two seemed to be offering cask Tetley! Very surprised to see this so far west (not suprised enough to order one though…)
Expansive bar area in the Penny Black, Northwich
The Big Lock, Middlewich
An enormous pub, adjacent to lock 75 or ‘big lock’ on the Trent and Mersey canal in Middlewich. 4 pumps offering 4 beers: Black Sheep Best, Well’s Bombardier, Jenning’s Cumberland and Marston’s Pedigree. The beer was well kept and well presented – as we’d been allowed to charge our phones in the pub (no 240v AC on our narrowboat!) I tried all but the Pedigree – we had to spend a few hours waiting for the charging…!
Ruth about to tuck in....
Large portions of home-make looking and tasting food on offer – excellent chips and onion rings! (Yeah, I am planning to do some cycling to make up for it). Perhaps not the most exciting range of beers, served well, alongside a really good food offering.
The Nag's Head, Wheelock
Delightful small pub around 1/4 mile from the Trent and Mersey canal, as recommended by our 1992 Nicholson canal guide (!) This pub has featured in the good beer guide since 2004 – 4 hand pumps on the bar with 3 beers on offer on my visit, which is pretty good for a Monday lunchtime!
I sampled ‘PGA’ (which I can’t find anywhere online!) – light and refreshing. Home-cooked and locally sourced food was available to sample, so I went for the sausage and mash. I was not disappointed:
Sausage and Mash
My only minor gripe was that the menu didn’t state it came with peas and cauliflower cheese – not that was a big problem, I just can’t stand inaccurate menus (everyone has to have a little OCD in them!)
Very friendly, good beer and great food – a most excellent pub.
*Arty pints included as the landlord commented on my camera – “you don’t see many real camera’s these days do you…”