CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Previous Beer Columns >> Three Rivelin Valley Pubs

Previous Pint Pleasures - August 31, 2002

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Admiral Rodney, 592 Loxley Road, Loxley, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

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Plough Inn, 288 Sandygate Road, Sandygate, Crosspool, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

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Bell Hagg Inn, 3 Manchester Road, Crosspool, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

The far western edge of Sheffield is unique for a city. Virtually in the countryside with breathtaking green hills and valleys, it's a very short drive -- and even a pleasant walk -- away from the urban communities of Hillsborough, Walkley, Crookes, and Broomhill, with a scattering of tiny subtopias and exurbias along the way. So it's quite easy to jump in the car -- or lace up the boots -- and head off for a pint in a more pastoral setting.

The Admiral Rodney is located in Robin Hood territory on Loxley Road (the B6077), just past Wisewood and well before you reach the Bradford Moors in the Peak District. We first learned of this pub when a visiting relative wanted to enjoy a pint with a view. The city centre pub at which we were dining recommended the Admiral Rodney. And this is definitely a view pub: the large front heated deck looks out over Wisewood Cemetery, the Sheffield College, Bole Hill, the Old Wheel Farm, and a sprinkling of woods, sheep, cows, trees, and bucolic structures. It's an ideal spot to sip a pint and watch the changing colours of the sunset.

Inside the pub is large and comfortable, with an interesting yet reasonably priced restaurant menu offered throughout the day and well into the night. A large wine list is featured as well, although Giles' glass of Hardy's Stamp didn't taste anything like Hardy's Stamp. Our pints of Bass Ale (4.4% ABV, Bass Brewers Ltd., Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire) were okay but not terribly exciting. I suppose a pub like this must be more concerned about their view-seeking diners rather than their view-seeking real ale lovers; still, as a member of the Vintage Inns chain, I really think it should have a few more cask ale options.

Down off the Manchester Road (A57) in Crosspool, just north of an area with the nauseating name of Carsick, is the Plough Inn. Originally built in 1695, this pub was rebuilt in 1927 and was a base for the Hallam Cricket Club. On the lunchtime of our visit we descended off the A57 into a thickly foggy Sandygate. The landlady who greeted us was very friendly and claimed the food was very good. My salmon was okay but the vegetables were cooked into a tired pea soup of a mush (proven as I set my fork atop a slice of carrot and watched it quickly sink). Perhaps this was a special menu in celebration of the tired foggy day; I'll try to reserve judgement. As we sat dining with my elderly mother a big-screen TV entertained us with loudly irritating videos. We accompanied our tired food with tired pints of...what were they? Landlord? (4.3% ABV, Timothy Taylor & Co. Ltd., Keighley, West Yorkshire). Landlord is normally a nicely hopppy, stimulating pint; but these were very tired indeed. Oh, what a tiring pub...

Further out the Manchester Road into the Rivelin Valley is the Bell Hagg Inn, featuring a beer garden with amazing views of the valley and Sheffield. Built in 1832 as a five-storey building, this was formerly known as Hodgson's Folly but now survives as a pub, although the owners are trying to turn it into a private residence. As we walked in past a big piano and guitar (sorry -- "gee-tahr") and a very country-looking landlord we were serenaded by country & western music on the jukebox. The decor features a big portrait of Winston Churchill, battle scenes, a lava lamp, a jester hat, old photos and family portraits, and one of those kitsch cut-out silhouettes. And oh, yes, we can see the special stool for the Tuesday live music nights. Is it reserved for Waylon Jennings? And, of course, there's Talkin' Tommy Trout over in the window -- but don't get him started, 'cause those dang trouts always start bendin' your ear just when you need a little peace and quiet.

Just as we bellied up to the bar, some dude strutted in wearing super baggy trousers that looked like fish scales. Was he a fish? A trout, possibly? Since we were thirsty we made a point of not getting him started. Instead we ordered shots o' redeye -- sorry, Barnsley Bitter (3.8% ABV, Barnsley Brewing Co Ltd, Barnsley, South Yorkshire). It's a bit dearer than a pint of the same in the city and not nearly as good, but at least it's something way out here in the country -- sorry, "cun-trah".

So is this classically comfy red-velvet pub with those western country views -- or do I mean country western views -- the English equivalent to the American honky tonk tavern? Where're all them truck -- sorry, lorry -- drivers? I mean, they can't all be at Title Max looking for title loans. But the unpaved parkin' lot -- sorry, car park -- looked kinda bare without the semis -- sorry, artics. I half expected some bloke to walk in any minute, looking like a cross between John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, in weathered cowboy hat, sayin' "I been drivin' all night from Houston -- can you tell me where I kin find some grub and a bit o' shut-eye?" Why, right here, partner, because the Bell Hagg also does food and has ensuite rooms. But what's on the menu -- chilli 'n' beans? Ah, here comes Dolly with the shopping just as "America the Beautiful" starts playing.


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