CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Previous Beer Columns >> 3 Sheffield-Glossop Road Pubs

Previous Pint Pleasures - December 24, 2002

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Yorkshire Bridge Inn, Ashopton Road, Bamford, Hope Valley, Derbyshire

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Ladybower Inn, Bamford, Hope Valley, Derbyshire

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Snake Pass Inn, Ashopton Woodlands, Bamford, Hope Valley, Derbyshire

One wonderful thing about my home in Sheffield -- aside from the fact that we live in what beer enthusiasts call the Real Ale Triangle -- is our close proximity to the Peak District. Established as Britain's first national park in 1951, two years after the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act was passed, the Peak National Park covers 555 square miles of open countryside and sustains around 38,000 people who live and work there. It is popular with walkers, cavers, and people who enjoy beautiful countryside, and rates as the second most popular national park in the world after Japan's Mount Fuji. And considering the population of Japan, that really says something.

Although many rivers - most notably the Derwent and the Wye -- run through the Peak District, there are no natural lakes, but there are three manmade reservoirs nestled amidst the tors. All three are accessible from the A57 which runs from Sheffield to Glossop through Snake Pass. The Howden, Derwent, and Ladybower Reservoirs were constructed after a period of high rainfall in the 1930s and 1940s to provide water for the inhabitants of Sheffield, Derby, and Nottingham.

Ladybower Reservoir is famous as the site where the Raf "Dambusters" Squadron carried out trials of Dr. Barnes Wallis' historic bouncing bomb in preparation for their raids on the Ruhr River dams of Nazi Germany; this is also the setting of the film The Dambusters. And, as happens with any popular place to visit, Ladybower Reservoir is also the setting of two pubs.

Located off the A57 three miles from the border of South Yorkshire, the Yorkshire Bridge dates from 1826 and is named after an old packhorse bridge which at that time was the only crossing point on the River Derwent. The pub features scenic reservoir views and a restaurant which we were told was once quite good; but on our visit earlier this year we were disappointed with the quality of the food. The beer also left a bit to be desired. Andrew's pint of Bass (4.4% ABV, Bass Brewers Ltd., Burton-Upon-Trent, Staffordshire) was served through a sparkler, making it quite different from unsparkled bass. My pint of Old Peculiar (5.7% ABV, T.R. Theakston Ltd., Ripon, North Yorkshire) was different as well: the word "creamy" comes to mind. It imparted a pleasant porter-like aftertaste, at which point a black currant flavour emerged, but it was more a memorial to the old Old Peculiar than anything else. Would that be called Older Peculiar? Or perhaps it should be called Young Peculiar...

On the other side of the A57 is the Ladybower Inn, which in my opinion is much more worthy of a visit than its upscale neighbour. When we stopped in one sunny summer afternoon the front garden offered a fine view of the reservoir and two porta-loos, accentuated by the sound of light traffic on the A57 as well as Yorkshire stone-cutting machinery. (They're building accommodation next door to the pub which should be open for business in late 2003.) Inside the pub there were odd little snacky things in a bowl on the bar, and a very tempting food menu with reasonable prices which includes a wide selection of fish and vegetarian options. Our pints of Cumberland Ale (4% ABV, Jennings Bros., Cockermouth, Cumbria) were straw-coloured with a nice fizzy character which tickles the tongue: just the thing to refresh on a busy summer day.

If you continue west down the A57 you'll drive through Snake Pass, which is often closed in winter due to snow. Right at this point, in a very scenic location in the High Peak 17 miles from Sheffield, is the Snake Pass Inn. This pub, built in 1821, was a toll bar on the old turnpike until 1970, when it was converted into a public house. Extremely popular with tourists and Pennine Way hikers, the pub is open all day, every day of the year, and food is served from 7:30 am until 10:00 pm. Yes! This is the schedule Britain needs more of.

On our visit last summer we had lunch in the Dambuster Bar. Because I was recovering from a bout with gastroenteritis I endured the humiliation of ordering my first conspicuous half pint ever in yorkshire -- but even in a half pint glass my Bombardier (4.3% ABV, Charles Wells Brewery, Bedford, Bedfordshire) was far more therapeutic than the full pints of mineral water I'd been consuming for the past few days. it tasted a bit slippery and smooth to me -- but after a day spent on a long haul driving the porcelain bus, and another day of dry toast with Marmite, I'll allow for the fact that my taste buds could have been a bit off. My companion agreed that it was a bit old but assured me it was a nice bitter half-pint. and my limited bites of my smoked salmon sandwich were quite pleasing, and the accompanying salad looked very good although I dared not sample it.

The Snake Pass Inn was originally owned by the Duke of Devonshire and remained in the family for many years. During the 19th century prize fights took place in what is now the car park. Fortunately there are no longer any fights of any kind in the car park -- this is simply not that sort of pub.

Snake Pass Inn Updates
(Last updated 15 April 2007)