On the last Sunday in November, five fearless walkers set off by train from Lancaster to explore foreign territory — five pubs in the two villages of Bentham, North Yorkshire. Mindful of flood warnings we all had swim wear and flippers tucked away in rucksacks but, fortunately they were not needed. In fact, although it remained cloudy throughout the afternoon, it didn’t rain..
On arrival in High Bentham, we started our “saunter” along by the side of a very swollen and fast flowing river, but, after slipping and sliding in mud for a short stretch, the group split into two with the less adventurous amongst us opting to walk along the road the others on something of a survival course through flooded swamps, ‘I’m a member of CAMRA, get me out of here’ — to the Punch Bowl in Low Bentham — our first stop — where we all met up again.
The Punch Bowl was very welcoming with two cheerful open fires but there were few customers and the beer selection was poor. Despite a sign advertising that four cask ales were available, there was only Everards Beacon. This was an acceptable beer but nothing special.
Our next stop at the Sun Dial was even more disappointing because the pub was closed. A notice stated that it would re-open in early December, after refurbishment, but a local person told us that the new owner is planning to open it as a Bistro.
Back along the river to High Bentham , one pub in 2 and a half hours, must be the slowest pub crawl on record! Next stop was the Horse and Farrier. This was a pleasant pub which was quite busy. Here we enjoyed Copper Dragon Best Bitter (in good condition) and Thwaites Wainwright. The other beer on offer was Thwaites Best Bitter.
Cheered by some decent ale we made our way to a newish pub with the unlikely name of Hoggs ‘n’ Heifers, where Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery’s ‘Monumental’ and ‘Radical’ were available, also Golden Sheep from Black Sheep brewery. The group was pleased with ‘ Monumental’, a hoppy blond ale with citrus flavours, probably the best beer of the day. However, ‘Radical’ described as a malty, ruby red beer, was decidedly past its best.
We looked in the Bentham Club (formerly the Conservative Club) but they had no real ale available. Robinson’s Coach House (formerly the Brown Cow) was decorated for Christmas and we had a Dizzy Blonde. We finished at the Black Bull with Thwaites Cherry Good and a Wainwright. We caught the 1838 back to Lancaster.