CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Previous Beer Columns >> 2 Pubs In and Near Bradfield
The Old Horns Inn, Towngate, High Bradfield, Sheffield, South Yorkshire
The Royal Hotel, Main Road, Dungworth, Bradfield, Sheffield, South Yorkshire
A few years ago I worked on a University contract researching the Sheffield Flood of 1864, when the Dale Dyke Dam burst and flooded the village of Bradfield, the Loxley Valley, and finally Sheffield. Ever since then I've been wanting to go out to Bradfield and take a "flood walk". I finally had the chance one recent Sunday when my walking companion Trevor and I rode a surprisingly cheap bus from Malin Bridge out to Low Bradfield. Getting off just beyond the Plough Inn, we took off toward the Dale Dyke Reservoir and got lost trying to follow the instructions of a Peak District walking guide I'd brought along. Whenever we'd run into other walkers and ask them for directions we discovered, as they displayed the same book, that they were lost as well. As we had no mobile signal Trevor couldn't even use his GPS tool.
But being lost in a forest near Bradfield on a gorgeous Sunday morning isn't that traumatic, and before we knew it we'd stumbled upon the massive dam on the edge of the peaceful Dale Dyke Reservoir. We walked only a small part of the way around because, as one might expect, we were getting quite thirsty and the nearest pub was back where we started. So we headed back, this time uphill toward High Bradfield using the magnificent St Nicholas Church on the crest of a hill as our guide. By the time we ascended the hill to the churchyard we were well parched and ready for refreshment. But we held out for another few minutes to explore the graveyard and the church interior.
Although there was a church on the spot in the early 12th century, the present church was built around 500 years ago. Bradfield was originally a boundary area between Roman and Celtic England and later between the kingdoms of Northumbria and Mercia, and today it's the boundary between the Archbishoprics of York and Canterbury. Buried in the churchyard are 12 victims of the 1864 flood as well as a war memorial honouring soldiers killed in the two World Wars. One gravestone in front of the church dates as far back as 1639.
Adjacent to the church is the Old Horns Inn, an L-shaped Thwaites pub that was packed with Sunday lunchers. I briefly visited this pub years ago on a visit to Sheffield before I lived there, and at that time the pub was also full of diners. One of the items on the food menu intrigued us: "whale-sized haddock". Does the pub have a special room in which to serve this gargantuan dish?
We ordered pints of Bee Nice (3.9% ABV, Thwaites Brewery, Blackburn, Lancashire) and took them in outdoor-furnished plastic glasses out into the expansive beer garden. As all the tables were occupied we sat on the sunny grassy slope and admired the spectacular view of the surrounding hills, Low Bradfield, and the Agden Reservoir, and we also had a great view of the church and its vast graveyard. As we enjoyed the view we also admired the lovely golden character of the beer. But the wind decided I was not to finish my pint, as it lifted the plastic glass and flung one-third of the contents down the hillside. Oh well, more to look forward to next time -- at least it was considerate enough not to dump the drink in my lap.
On a previous weekend, after walking on a lovely cold sunny day along the River Loxley through five and a quarter miles worth of riverside dung, past the Dam Flask Reservoir with its sailboats and blue-green algae warnings, and after climbing a supposedly half-mile mountain road, Trevor and I ended up in Dungworth. This intriguingly named village dates to the 13th century and apparently had a famous cross, and the name may have referred to the houses of the original settlement that were either halfway underground or roofed with dung. There was definitely an aroma in the air, but that was probably from all of the nearby horses and cows.
The village of Dungworth features a Methodist church and the Dungworth Village Hall, originally built as a rehearsal room for the local brass band. As we made our way past the stone village sign and around two more bends we finally found the Royal Hotel. The pub features a large room with 2 little square rooms on the side, each with a private TV in the corner. Before ordering our pints I had a taster of XK120 (4.0% ABV, Cottage Brewing Co Ltd, Castle Cary, Somerset). The landlord described this as a "fruity" beer, and I instantly agreed: it's not fruity in the pleasant sense of citrus, but simply "fruity", quotation marks and all. Trevor had a taste and agreed with the "fruity" verdict.
So we went for pints of Yorkshire Farmer (4.0% ABV, Bradfield Brewery, High Bradfield, Sheffield, South Yorkshire) and chatted with the landlord about the Dungworth Choir's uniquely different versions of classic carols which they demonstrate every Christmas at the pub, and also about the Loxley Brass Band that used to pass through the village and perform in the pub. As the front little room with the amazing view was occupied, we settled in the other little room which had obviously been just used for a child's birthday party. There were children's videos and games stacked on a shelf and a couple of balloons floating about. Both rooms also feature their own fireplaces, and there is a wide range of photographs and paintings on the walls: still lifes, landscapes, bathing beauties, horses, and pool halls. (No, not that kitsch one with the pool-playing dogs.)
Andrew soon arrived and joined is, and we had our own private TV viewing of the Stoke v. West Ham FA Cup match. At one point a lovely little dog walked into the room and greeted us but immediately started barking frantically at me. "It's the hat," the embarrassed owner explained. it was a nice hat I was wearing: a black felt crush hat purchased in the 1990s, and not at all alarming to most. Trevor and Andrew immediately removed their caps; but when they stepped outside to brave the cold day with bare heads, the little dog ran back into the room to give me a proper barking down. I did once meet another dog who hated hats, and also a little boy who was spooked by black-coloured clothing. Ah well, no worries, I told myself as I sipped my pint. It was a gorgeous day, it had been a brilliant walk, the Yorkshire Farmer was a proper bitter and highly rewarding, and at least the dog was all bark and no bite.
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(Last updated 8 June 2017)