Two local pubs hit the headlines today. The Sycamore, our Parwich pub, has been declared winner of the rural pub of the year category by The Ashbourne sub-branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). While the Sycamore does not pretend to major on food it is praised highly for ‘an excellently well-kept range of Robinson’s ales.
The George at Alstonefield is featured nationally today in the first of a new series on ‘country trails with a pint en route’ in the Sunday Times Travel section, page 19 (10th February 2013). The author, Vincent Crump, speaks admiringly of the two pints of Jennings Cockle Warmer he drinks there (this is obviously a double dose ‘pint en route’ walk). He does not mention any other names, but the George is widely admired for its ‘well kept real ales, carefully selected wine list and real pub food’. Horses for course: this is more expensive, ‘finessed food’, not by any description the more affordable standard pub grub such as people enjoy at the Sycamore.
But I am not meant to be writing about food, or beer, but about the circular walk from Hartington that is described in this piece. Because we don’t have a Times subscription we couldn’t access the link to it, which would have been by far the best option. Instead, I shall massacre Vincent Crump’s charmingly written article to extract the bare bones of the walk he describes so evocatively, in order that friends and guests can try it for themselves. (We shall put a photocopy of the article in the walk file in each barn as well so if you’re actually staying here you can use that.)
Definitely have an Ordnance Survey map with you so you can plot the route for yourself. Crump’s description is more poetic than scientific and after lunch it becomes even more disquietingly vague. My translation may do nothing to help but I truly am doing my best to extract the facts.
1.Start at Hartington.
2. Walk up Hall Bank towards Hartington Hall, now the Youth Hostel.
3. Opposite the hall gates turn right onto the ‘Leisure Lane to Dovedale’.
4. After a ‘swift mile the path collapses abruptly into Biggin Dale’.
5. Cross the Dove on a ‘dinky footbridge’ at Wolfscote Dale then ‘walk all the way to Alstonefield’. (Forgive me if this doesn’t sound very helpful but it’s what he says. I’d say, at this stage definitely look at your map!)
George stop for a pint or two… and lunch…then set off back to Hartington again
6. The hike back ‘arrows north on a field path, cleaving the small green bosoms of Narrowdale’.
7.Rejoin the Dove ‘as it squidges between cliffs through Beresford Dale’.
8. Then, he concludes, ‘before I know it I’m in Hartington again’.
Let’s hope you are too!