Hassrale Trips: St Albans II

Date: Saturday 16th September 1989

We once again, by popular demand, return to St Albans, the Cathedral city in Hertfordshire. On the previous occasion we did some of the central pubs so this we will have a look at the ones in the suburbs. Even doing this we can see why the city is popular as all the pubs are pleasant, comfortable and with an excellent choice of beer. We also take the opportunity of seeing Britain's oldest pub (disputed, but in the Guiness Book of Records), the site of the original Roman town and lots and lots of ducks. Good weather must be hoped for as there is quite a bit of walking on what can be rather muddy ground.

Fast trains to St Albans leave Kings Cross ThamesLink at 2 and 52 minutes past the hour and take 20 minutes. The pubs in St Albans open at 11am (if we are lucky).

On arriving at St Albans proceed to the stairs at the side that takes you up on to the bridge. Turn right and on your left find the second pub along:-

1. MIDLAND RAILWAY - 146 Victoria Street [11.45am]
Beers:- Courage Directors and Best Bitter

Comments:- We have been here before but it is a good meeting pub. Plenty of room in the pub and if the weather is good a large out- side drinking area with swings etc for the kids. Also seems to serve food right from opening for those who missed their breakfast (or not, as the case may be).

On leaving face back towards the station and take the turning on your immediate right. This is the famous Alma Road home of CAMRA headquarters. We walk to the end of this road and turn right again and proceed up the London Road. When you reach Watsons Walk on your left turn down it and proceed to the end where you turn right. Now a bit of confusion as you will be faced with a four way fork. You need to find Sopwell Lane which is virtually straight ahead. Down this road on the right you will come to:-

2. THE GOAT - Sopwell Lane [12.45]
Beers:- Hook Norton Best, Boddingtons, Marston Pedigree, Fullers London Pride, Wadworths 6X, Greene King Abbot (Range may vary)

Comments:- Again visited before but should not be missed on a St Albans trip. The axe fortunately has not descended on this excellent pub in spite of threats. Lots of rooms and the beer is usually excellent. A wide range of food although a little strange. Garden of sorts. Due to some problems in the past bar may close from 3 to 6.

You thought the first walk was long, wait until you see this one. Proceed to the end of Sopwell Lane and turn left proceed down until you branch off into Grove Road. On your right down here you will find a footpath towards the Cathedral (Marked on map 1). Proceed down this path and off the map. When you hit Abbey Mill Lane you will find:-

3. FIGHTING COCKS - 16 Abbey Hill Lane (Map 5) [1.50pm]
Beers Ind Coope Burton, Benskins Best and Tetleys.

Comments:- Disputedly the oldest pub in Britain. Certainly has the pedigree as it was built to accomodate those building the Abbey which can be seen nearby. Pleasant enough pub but becase of its history can get quite crowded. Drinking is not allowed outside. Has food but can be pretty expensive. Not one of my favourite pubs but well worth a visit.

Now for the next trek (it gets better later on). On leaving the pub proceed back into Abbey Mill Lane and turn left over the bridge The panorama now opens up and we will find the lakes of St Albans. We have to walk the length of the park but there is plenty to see. On either side you will see a considerable amount of wild fowl and on the far side of the lake you will see the remains of the Roman town. At the far side of the park you will walk out onto St Michael Street:-

4. ROSE AND CROWN - St Michael Street (Map 5) [2.15pm]
Beers:- Burton, Benskins Best, Tetleys and cider

Comments:- A good place to slake your thirst after the long walk. Half timbered pub with nice garden and friendly staff and customers. There should be snacks available if needed.

We now have what is known as a John Carter trek? Turn right out of the pub for a few yards to find:-

5. SIX BELLS - St Michael Street (Map 5) [2.45pm]
Beers:- Same as previous one

Comments: Not much to choose between these last two pubs but this one has the added bonus of being open all day. Small outside drinking area. Food limited to rolls and packets of popadums.

Proceed back past the previous pub and follow the road round and past a working water wheel. On your right and almost on the corner is:-

6. BLUE ANCHOR - 145 Fishppol Street (Map 5) [3.30pm]
Beers:- McMullens AK Mild and Country Bitter

Comments:- A very nice and popular pub but should have plenty of room to sit. Food very doubtful at this time. Closes at 3.30pm on Saturdays. Very near main road so be careful when leaving the pub.

We continue to the right on leaving the pub and need to take care when crossing the road. Not only is the road very bu«y but the pavement on the other side is very high in parts. On your left and on the same road is:-

7. LOWER RED LION, Fishpool Street (Map 5) [6pm]
Beers:- Adnams Bitter, Greene King Abbot and Fullers London Pride

Comments: Another excellent pub that opens all afternoon and I would recommend that we stay here and make this a base. If people want to go and sightsee there are nice buildings in Fishpool St, and you are not far from either the Market or the Cathedral. I am not really in a position to recommend any pubs in the centre but you can explore if you wish to. For those who just wish to stay in the pub it is an attractive two bar pub with a garden set a little way away beyond the car park. If the weather is good the garden is a must for just dreaming the afternoon away. Possibility of some food.

Assuming we stay until 6pm we should now proceed down Fishpool Street turning left into Market Place and eventually into St Peter Street. This road takes you through the centre and out the other aide. It then becomes Sandridge Road by forking right and you then find:-

8. THE JOLLY SAILOR - Sandridge Road (Maps 1 and 2) [7.50pm]
Beers Charles Wells Bombadier and Eagle

Comments:- Another two bar pub with a large fish tank. I hope they don't remember us from the trial (well some of us anyway) No food.

We now proceed back into St Peter Street to the roundabout and turn left into Hatfield Road on the home leg. On your left we find:- '

9. PEACOCK - 15 Hatfield Road (Maps 1 and 2) [8.50pm]
Beers:- Whitbread Wethered and Castle Eden Bitter.

Comments:- Typical Whitbread pub but quiet and pleasant. Some snacks for those who still have the urge and a garden for those who don't.

Continue down the road and over the railway line (you can now see the station). A little further on you will come to:-

10. THE CROWN - 144 Hatfield Road (Map 2) [9.50pm]
Beers: Greene King Abbot, IPA and Marstons Pedigree.

Comments:- Pub now frequented by the younger element but pleasant in spite of this. Lots of machines and music. Beer of good quality,

We now juat have to proceed back the way we oaae for a little while and turn left down Station Road, The station is down on the right, Finally ay apologies for the maps. None of them cover the whole area hence the need for three. Map one is the most precise so follow that when you can.

Maps for the trips

My thanks to the team who were to the best of uy recollection Edmund Featherstone, John Wright, Paul Tiffany, Dave Saffery To those I missed I apologise.

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