CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Previous Beer Columns >> 2 Derbyshire Pubs

Previous Pint Pleasures - August 22, 2003

guinness eileen

Wye Bridge, Fairfield Road, Buxton, Derbyshire

guinness eileen

The Rising Sun, Castleton Road, Thornhill Moor, Bamford, Hope Valley, Derbyshire

Not long ago some friends from Kent were taking a day trip by train to the spa town of Buxton. Since this popular holiday resort isn't far from Sheffield, and the drive through the gorgeous Peak District is always thoroughly enjoyable, we arranged to meet them for a pint, which is about all they would have time for on their brief stop. Called "Aquae Arnemetiae" by the Romans who settled here around 70 AD, the spa at Buxton became well known for its healing powers, and Mary Queen of Scots visited it several times. There are various possibilities as to the origin of the name of Buxton: it could be Danish (Buck), Saxon (Boke), or Anglo Saxon (Buccings), but it probably refers to the fact that the area was a Royal Forest and the King's deer came to drink from the springs. I often drink bottles of Buxton water whenever we travel down the motorway between the North and the South, and I'm not even a deer. A dear, perhaps, to some people, and quite other things to others, but I don't recall ever being called a ruminant.

We met at the Wye Bridge, a Wetherspoon pub named after the 14th century bridge which crosses the nearby River Wye. We sat out in the pleasant front garden next to a big park and had pints of Old Hooky (4.6% ABV, Hook Norton Brewery, Banbury, Oxfordshire), which were quite good and very strong. Our next pints were of Courage Directors (4.8% ABV, John Smith Brewery, Tadcaster, North Yorkshire), which were surprisingly good pints and refreshingly bitter. -- and they weren't too cold as is often the case with Wetherspoons. Not that I'm complaining; I realise Wetherspoons is trying to appeal to the younger ale drinker, so the cooler pints are more apt to attract them away from their lager. And they weren't too cool for our Martian friends (i.e. from Romney Marsh), either, considering the conversation was getting a bit heated from Andrew and I going on and on about how much better the North is than the South. I imagine our old friends from Kent and Sussex get quite sick of hearing this...

The Wye Bridge is open all day which is rare for pubs in Buxton. Food is served all day as well.

On another day we decided to take a drive out to Chatsworth House to have lunch and a pint. For some reason we took a wrong turn and ended up on the A625, the pub lunch hours quickly waning as we desperately searched for a pub. We ended up at the Rising Sun, a hotel and restaurant just outside the village of Bamford. Famous for its annual sheep dog trials, Bamford is located below Ladybower Reservoir near the River Derwent. A cotton mill was built on the site of the village around 1780, then burned down and was rebuilt a decade later. Although the large water wheel still exists the mill has been converted into flats. At the bottom end of the village just below the railway station is the re-erected Mytham Bridge toll gate, which was originally built in 1758 on the first turnpike in the area.

The Rising Sun features a pretty lounge and a gorgeous garden with a fountain, pond, and playfield. Inside there are paintings of houses, hounds, and riders, and nice stained glass everywhere. Sadly the restaurant had run out of cream cheese for my Los Angeles fix (a smoked salmon, cream cheese, onion, and caper sandwich), so I settled for a prawn sandwich, which I must say was excellent and served with potato salad and a real green salad with lamb's lettuce and rocket, which is such an improvement from the usual sad cold iceberg. As we dined we chatted with the pudgy pink chocolate Labrador who lives there. Our pints of Landlord (4.3% ABV, Timothy Taylor & Co. Ltd., Keighley, West Yorkshire) were a bit warm but since we were in the middle of a heat spell you must expect this -- there isn't much that pubs can do in this sort of weather. My pint was quite enjoyable, and I hadn't had a pint of Timothy Taylor in quite a while. After all, it's Madonna's favourite real ale, so that says something...

The inn, which features 12 rooms of accommodation, dates back to 1795 when it was built on the coaching route between Manchester and Sheffield. It was named the Rising Sun in the late 1800s when it had become a popular destination for Victorian tourists, and it has been completely refurbished by the new owners. As we were paying our bill I noticed a number of books in the alcoves. I caught a glance of just one title: Algebra for High Schools. Are these old books contributed by the locals? Or perhaps they have lively discussions about high school mathematics in the lounge? Who knows...

The Rising Sun is open all afternoon as well, which is always a good thing to know when you're in the habit of getting lost on country roads.