23 August 2014

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Focus on… bars and pubs in Derbyshire


derbyshire_bakewell - iStock_000002587552Small_Derbyshire_1.jpgThere are some cracking pubs hidden away in Derbyshire’s stunning countryside – and input from local microbreweries provides even more reason to visit these distinctive dinking dens. More than score of enterprising indie outfits are dotted round the county – from John Thompson in Ingleby and Peak Ales in Chatsworth to the mighty Thornbridge Brewery (based in Bakewell, pictured right), who sell their great beers worldwide.

From quaint, ivy-clad hostelries on village greens to welcoming beacons on windswept moorland, Derbyshire’s pub culture is alive and kicking – a counter-punch to those who think rural inns are on the way out.

Barrel Inn, Bretton Clough

The staggering views from this remote 16th-century pub are worth the journey alone – witness the fleeced-up drinkers sitting outside, summer and winter. Inside, admire the inglenook fireplace, swirly carpets and value-for-money menu with a well-kept pint from Marston’s or William Clarke.

Bull’s Head, Ashford-in-the-Water

You can feel the love in this family-run 17th-century whitewashed inn; the decor may be deeply traditional, but the food is contemporary – so sit back with the papers in front of the fire, listen to the cool jazz soundtrack and tuck into duck and pistachio terrine with a pint of Robinson’s Unicorn.

Chequers Inn, Froggatt Edge

Just when you think you’re going to fall off the edge of the world, the smartly whitewashed Chequers pitches up. There might be a surfeit of pine furniture for some tastes, but don’t be put off; an innovative menu plunders the best local produce, and the beer (from three local breweries) is on song.

derbyshire - iStock_000002270259Small_Derbyshire2.jpgFlying Childers Inn, Stanton in the Peak

OK – there are pubs, gastropubs and dirty old boozers. This is a proper village inn, the real deal. No Farrow & Ball makeover here, just great beer, a bowl of soup and stew. It’s the perfect place to find after a yomp through Lathkill Dale – so kick back with a pint of Wells Bombardier in surroundings lost to the 21st century.

The George, Alstonefield

Emma is the third generation of the Hammond family to run this ridiculously pretty pub on Alstonefield’s village green. Much of the old-world vibe remains (quarry-tiled floors, gleaming oak settles, fading photos), but there’s nothing dated about the menu. Sit in the huge garden and soak up the magnificent views over the dramatic landscape.

Red Lion, Litton

Sitting prettily on Litton village green, this handsome old pub is perfect on a sunny afternoon; relax under the huge oak with a pint of Absolution and the papers. It’s pretty neat in the winter too, with its untouched 18th-century interior and a warren of cosy rooms with roaring fires and stone floors.

Royal Oak, Hurdlow

Brought back from the brink, this handsome old boozer breathes again. Beams, open fires and exposed stone walls set the tone in the bar, while honest pub grub comes out of the spanking new kitchen; the hand-raised chicken and mushroom pie is a winner. Local beers include Whim’s Hartington Bitter and award-winning Thornbridge ales.

Saracens Head, Shirley

This might just be pub heaven – one of those unmatchable places you stumble on every once in a while. Dating from 1791 and tucked away in a warren of country lanes, it still feels completely authentic and sublimely comfy – despite its inevitable makeover.

White Lion, Longstone

It looked like another village pub was destined for the wrecking ball until Robinson’s Brewery stepped in and saved the White Lion. It still feels like your local, and the thoughtful menu mashes up old and new – how about gilthead bream and parsnip couscous washed down with a pint of Dizzy Blonde?

Ye Olde Gate Inn, Brassington

Picture an exquisite, mellow-stone estate village with a 400-year-old, ivy-clad pub at its heart. Inside, the atmospheric interior is untouched by anything remotely new-fangled – think flagged floors, a huge inglenook fireplace, great beers and serious comfort food. Oxtail casserole or fidget pie, anyone?

Find great restaurants in Derbyshire.

This feature was published in May 2013.

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