Pint Pleasures: Three Pubs In and Near the Hope Valley / Collective Nouns for Motorcycles

CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Previous Beer Columns >> 3 Hope Valley Pubs

Previous Pint Pleasures - February 21, 2007

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Woodroffe Arms Hotel, 1 Castleton Road, Hope, Hope Valley, Derbyshire

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Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, How Lane, Castleton, Derbyshire

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Fox House, Hathersage Road, Longshaw, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

I've been shirking my duties -- not through laziness or procrastination, but merely as a result of this speeding bullet of time. As I dash through the weeks, multitasking every aspect of my life, I am left with the realisation that not only is this column very late again, but I've run out of recently discovered pubs to write about. I promise to rectify this sad situation by next month's column.

Meanwhile this column will cover 3 pubs I visited over a year ago when my Bay Area friend Mistah Rick stopped in for the weekend. On a pleasantly cool and sunny Sunday afternoon we took a drive out into the Peak District, specifically to the Hope Valley which lies between the White Peak and the more mountainous High Peak. The village of Hope lies in the centre of the valley at the confluence of the River Noe and Peakshole Water. It dates to pre-Roman times and was known for lead mining. Today it is famous not only for its annual Sheepdog Trials, but also as the site of the Patronal Festival each summer when three of Hope's wells are dressed. This ancient pagan Derbyshire custom involves decorating springs and wells with pictures made from local plant life.

In Hope we stopped at the Woodroffe Arms, a pub built over 400 years ago on land belonging to the Woodroofes of Hope who fought at Agincourt and were the King's Foresters of the Peak. The three of us ordered pints of Landlord (4.3% ABV, Timothy Taylor & Co. Ltd., Keighley, West Yorkshire). As we sat at a table and sipped our pints, which were quite good, the radio buzzed sporadically as if it were too tired to latch onto an audible signal. The friendly barman, who seemed embarrassed by the irritating whine, apologised for the nuisance.

As the Woodroffe had been recommended to us for both its cask ale selection and its good food, we considered staying for lunch. But at this point in its history the pub offered only a carvery on Sunday, which didn't thrill the vegetarian among us. (Since our visit the pub has passed to new owners who reportedly offer a much wider menu.)

So we moved on in search of another pub which sounded very inviting, the 16th century Cheshire Cheese in Hope. Unfortunately we had no directions to the pub, and time was quickly running out for lunch. Eventually we lost Hope and ended up at the wrong Cheshire Cheese: the pretentiously named Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese in nearby Castleton.

I never mind finding myself in Castleton. It's a pretty village situated at the head of the intriguingly named Vale of Hope. On a hill overlooking Castleton is Peveril Castle, built by William the Conqueror in 1086. On the 1700-foot summit of nearby Mam Tor, also known as the Shivering Mountain, are the remains of a Celtic hill fort. Castleton also features 4 underground caves. Blue John Cavern and Treak Cliff Cavern contain the blue and yellow fluorspar called Blue John, found only in this area of Britain. Peak Cavern, also known as the Devil's Arse, is the source of the village river, Peakshole Water, and the cavern's mouth still contains rope walks left by ancient workers who made ropes for the lead mines. The main workings and the "bottomless pit" of Speedwell Cavern can be reached only by boat along an underground canal.

Smack in the middle of Castleton, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is a 17th century pub with beamed ceilings, a fire, and a nonsmoking restaurant. Like many of the pubs in the area it offers accommodation, and food is available all day. The three of us had pints of White Rabbit (4.3% ABV, Mansfield Brewery, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire). One sip made us want to order lunch, and one more sip and a glance at the menu made us regret having to pay so much for lunch because we realised we had landed right in the middle of Tourist Heaven. Needless to say my brie, pesto, and pepper baguette was actually quite good, and my White Rabbit went well with food. Sadly it wouldn't have been that exciting without food. As we dined to some sort of horrid Muzak we took in the cutesy country decor and the family photographs on the wall and wondered why there was a photo of a young woman in her graduation kit and why we should care that much about somebody else's family photo album.

Needless to say, I look forward to finding the other Cheshire Cheese next time.

At this point we drove back in the direction of Sheffield through Hathersage, famous for having inspired Charlotte Brönte's Jane Eyre and also for its church where Robin Hood's friend Little John is supposedly buried. Three miles outside of Hathersage on the border of Yorkshire is Fox House, one of the highest pubs in the area at 1,132 feet above sea level. Dating back to 1773, the pub is located next to the Longshaw National Trust Estate. It also offers accommodation and serves food all day.

We met up with a couple of friends, ordered pints of Bass (4.4% ABV, Bass Brewers Ltd., Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire), and sat outside in the sun at a table with a nice view of the car park. The day had turned warm and very bright and there were families and dogs galore. As we hid behind our dark glasses and sipped our excellent pints we admired the gorgeous Jaguar convertible parked nearby and watched a large number of Harleys whizz by on the road. Which led me to ponder on the following question: what does one calls a group of motorcycles, anyway? A clatter? A parade? A nide? A vrooming? Hopefully not a crash...

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(Last updated 5 May 2011)