Hassrale Trips: Harpenden, Wheathampstead

Date: Saturday 31st March 1990

Harpenden, located between Luton and St Albans is a smallish commuter town with little much else to offer. It does have a large common in the middle of the town and the pubs are pleasant and the beers reasonably differing. Because of the number of pubs and the lack of variety (mainly Benskins) I have made it a lunchtime only trip with a visit to Wheathampstead for the afternoon session finishing at St Albans for the train home.

Trains to Harpenden leave Blackfriars at 22 and 52 minutes past the hour stopping at Farringdon (28 and 58) and Kings Cross Thameslink (32 and 02). The 10:22 train arrives at Harpenden at 10:57.

Pubs

On leaving the station walk down Station Approach and turn left, proceed to the end passing the Harpenden Arms and cross over the very busy High Street. Turn right and you will see:

1. George, 4 High Street [11:45]

Beers: Benskins Bitter

Comments: A typical Benskins two bar pub but with plenty of room and alleged to do good lunches. A handy meeting pub.

Turn right out of the pub and follow the main road into St Albans Road. We now go onto the common and the best road to follow is Leyton Road that runs parallel to the main road. You will then pass the back of the:

2. Silver Cup, St Albans Road [12:45]

Beers: Charles Wells Bombadier, Eagle

Comments: An old pub which is regularly in the Good Beer Guide. Real fire in lounge, outside drinking area, darts in the public bar. Overlooking the common. Food at lunchtime.

We continue along St Albans Road but turn off over the common to our left where there is a path across the cricket pitch. This leads us on to Southdown Road where we turn right. Pass the Queens Head and on the left is:

3. Plough And Harrow, Southdown Road [13:30]

Beers: Ruddles Best, County, Websters Yorkshire Bitter

Comments: Large one bar pub with small rooms off, piano, display of key rings. Very much a locals pub tucked out of the way.

Retrace your footsteps to:

4. Queen's Head, 59 Southdown Road [14:15]

Beers: Benskins Bitter, Burton, Tetleys

Comments: Another rather typical Benskins two bar pub with walls adorned with pictures. Seems to be plenty of room to sit. CD Juke Box.

Turn left on leaving pub and now proceed back towards where we started. On the corner of Station Road we find:

5. Harpenden Arms, High Street

Beers: Fullers Chiswick, London Pride, ESB

Comments: This is the one that stays open all afternoon. A large recently renovated pub which was formerly a dingy Benskins pub. Very handy for the station. Beer always seems to be excellent. Will have food on for those who still have a need. Chiswick trailers can get their card stamped.

This completes the first stage and the adventure starts. By crossing Station Rd and walking back towards the station we will come to a bus stop. Buses to Wheathampstead leave the Church Green at 32 and 59 (357 and 358) and arrive at this stop a couple of minutes later. We need to ask to be let off at:

6. Wicked Lady, Nomansland

Beers: Various mainly served on gravity (should include Greene King Abbot as well as a number of guests).

Comments: The only pub in the country so named and it is from here the theme of the two films of the same name came. So named after a certain Ann (without the "E") Ferrers, a highway person who was shot on the Nomansland Common opposite. Isolated pub with a large bar with raised areas. Alleged to do very good food. The beer is all sold in a shed attached to the back of the bar and is sold on gravity. Large garden used to house a very large friendly dog (that is unless you bring a dog in). It is probably now deceased. This pub unless it has changed since my last visit is well worth the visit. Open all afternoon.

We could subject to weather and quality of beer stay here for a while. Buses continue into St Albans every half hour through the afternoon from just outside the pub.

St Albans

The bus drops us off in St Peters Street and we should continue down Chequer Street and into Holywell Hill. Turn left at Sopwell Lane to find:

7. Goat, Sopwell Lane [19:30]

Beers: Hook Norton Bitter, Old Hookey, Greene King IPA, (Abbot), Wadworths 6X (Range does vary).

Comments: A popular haunt of HASSRALE although this is the first evening visit we have made. 15th Century Inn with lots of rooms. May now have reverted to all day opening.

Continue along Sopwell Lane to:

8. White Lion, 91 Sopwell Lane [20:30]

Beers: Ind Coope Bitter, Burton, Tetleys

Comments: Two roomed pub with garden and boules pitch. In Good Beer Guide.

Continue to end of Sopwell Lane and then turn left and proceed back down Albert St.

9. Garibaldi, Albert Street [21:30]

Beers: Fullers Chiswick, London Pride, ESB

Comments: Another pub visited by HASSRALE before. Again one to have your card stamped. In Good Beer Guide.

Now back to the city station for trains home. They are quite frequent up to late at night. If you just miss one there are pubs opposite.

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