Hassrale Trips - Berkhamstead

Date: Saturday 2nd September 1989

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Berkhamstead is a moderate size market town in the Hertfordshire countryside. Legend has it that St. Paul came to the town and drove out the serpents and the thunderstorms for ever. Fortunately he did not close the pubs although it is a bit difficult to find one that opens all day. Trains leave London Euston at 52 minutes past (semi fast) and 26 minutes past (slow) arriving respectively at 23 minutes past and 3 minutes past the hour on their way to the Mecca of real ale drinking - Milton Keynes. I would suggest the 10:52 as the ideal train.

On leaving the station proceed into the road and turn right into Lower Kings Road. Cross the canal and proceed until you reach the High Street. Cross this road and turn right again. Go past the George (we will return) and continue down to the:-

1. Lamb - High Street [12:15]

Beers: Benskins Best, Burton, Tetleys

An attractive and extremely quiet one bar pub. A typical Benskins pub that abound in this area. A bit early for food.

On leaving the pub turn right and proceed back to the :-

2. George - High Street [13:00]

Beers: Websters Yorkshire, Ruddles County and Bitter

Friendly and popular two bar pub. Was a free house but now obviously tied to Watneys. Food at lunchtime.

We continue back along the High Street back into the town centre. On the same side we find:-

3. Kings Arms - 147 High Street [13:30]

Beers: Greene King Abbot, Bass, Sam Smiths OBB, Youngs Special (beers vary)

Large coaching Inn much frequented by the younger set in the evenings. Seems more food orientated at lunchtime. Beer quality can be variable and not always the full range. We may have to be prepared to walk out. Nice large pub however with plenty of room. Has a garden.

Yes you are right continue along the High Street on the same side.

4. Swan Hotel - 139 High Street [14:00]

Beers: ABC Bitter

17th Century Hotel which was once the base for Fosters Swan brewery closed at the turn of the century. Nice bar which again caters for youngsters in the evening. Does meals and accommodation.

There is one further pub in the High Street but we should now have a bit of variety. Cross the road and continue on until you turn left into Ravens Lane. Go past the Brownlow Arms (fizz only) and once again cross the canal. On the right and on the bank of the canal is the aptly named:-

5. The Boat - Gravel Path [14:45]

Beers: Fullers Chiswick, London Pride and ESB

A brand spanking new pub built by Fullers in their move to expand their estate. Located on the canal bank with an outside drinking area. Friendly with excellent quality beer with an obviously keen landlord. Food, if still on is also wide ranging and looked good. Closes at 3pm. Well worth visiting although it can get a bit busy.

On leaving go down the towpath turn left and proceed along to the:-

6. Rising Sun - George Street [15:20]

Beers: Benskins Best

An excellent pub right on the canal bank so beware when staggering out. May have some snacks. Also closes at 3pm.

This concludes the lunchtime session and all the pubs listed so far either close at 2:30 or 3pm. If the wish is to continue imbibing proceed back down the towpath past the Boat and continue. You will in due course arrive at:-

7. Crystal Palace - Station Road [18:00 approx]

Beers: Benskins Best Bitter

The only one that I could find open all afternoon. Rather basic two bar pub very near the railway station. Can be rather frantic but pleasant enough and the locals seem very friendly. Whilst it does cater for travelling public it seems very much a locals pub with the inclusion of the racing fraternity. May have some snacks on in the afternoon.

I could not find any pubs in the area other than this that did both real ale and opened all day. For those who feel they need a break they may have a look at the others. In Castle Street not very far away there is a somewhat high class cafe with cream teas etc. Apart from walks along the canal and some shops there is not much else to do.

Evening

We now proceed into the unknown because:-

· I cannot be sure what time the pubs open in the evening

· I am not sure of the last pubs anyway but here goes

Proceed back along the towpath to the Gravel Path and I would suggest a further call in The Boat. We will have ascertained by then what time it re-opens. We then proceed back to the High Street and turn left. Continue along the High Street for quite a way and then continue into London Road. On the left down here you will find:-

8. Old Mill House Hotel - London Road [19:30]

Beers: Greene King Abbot and IPA

A somewhat strange hotel bar rather dominated by a pool table. Still likely to be pretty empty and friendly. Should be plenty of seats and the beer was very drinkable.

We now start the walk back again to the town centre and back into the High Street and on the same side of the road you will come to:-

9. Bull - High Street [20:45]

Beers: Benskins Best Bitter

My mind is now very vague but seemed a comfortable enough pub. Recently renovated. No food.

We now cross the road and proceed down a little way to the final call.:-

10. Goat - High Street [21:30]

Beers: Ind Coope Bitter, Burton

Modern looking two bar pub with collection of Toby jugs (I think, they could have been anything by now). Seemed friendly to a weary traveller. This was the one we missed out on the lunchtime trip.

All over now. We proceed down the High Street, turn right at Castle Street, past the aforementioned castle tea rooms and you will come to the railway stations and trains home.

This trip is drawn up by memory and if it is all wrong there is only one person to blame

Dave Saffery

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