Comments Off on CalderCask Walks No 1 – Southowram to Brighouse

This article was published in the Winter 2009/2010 edition of Caldercask and can be found here

A few pints of a nice real ale is a great way to spend a free afternoon, a few pints at several fine drinking establishments can only improve this proposition, however you have the quandary then of who does the driving, as nobody wants to miss out on a nice pint of Timothy Taylor or Little Valley’s latest brew. In the first of a new series of articles, I’m going to solve this problem with some pub walks which are accessible with public transport and take in the best real ales pubs in the area. Each issue I will base a walk around one or two Calderdale towns or villages and take you to 4 or 5 pubs where you are guaranteed a good pint.

I will start this series with a walk from my home village, Southowram to Brighouse, and what better place to start than my local pub, the Shoulder of Mutton, on Cain Lane, which just happens to be the current Northern Community Pub of the Year, awarded recently at the Great British Pub Awards. It lives up to its title, friendly staff, 2 or 3 real ales at any time, normally a blonde beer and a second brew which is changed every couple of weeks, with Harviestoun Schiehallion, Copper Dragon Golden Pippin and Saltaire Blonde making regular appearances.

Ten years ago, I could have written this article without ever leaving Southowram with 5 pubs to visit in the village. But now we are left with 2, both in the village centre, the aforementioned Shoulder of Mutton and the Packhorse just up the road. At the Bank Top end of the village, we have lost the Manor House to a new housing estate and the Cock and Bottle is boarded up with no sign of re-opening any time soon. Down the hill from the Shoulder we have lost the Malt Shovel, which has been boarded up for at least 6 years now, and looking in a pretty poor state. I used to live just 15 seconds from the Cock and Bottle, so I could make a quick pint mean just that! However the rare blessing is that the best pub in the village remained open.

The good news for this walk, is that gravity is on your side all of the way, I thought I’d ease you in gradually, you’ll be walking back up the hill in the couple of issues time. After leaving the Shoulder, head downhill towards Brighouse for about 500m until you get to Chapel Lane on your right, just past here, you’ll see two tracks leaving the main road on the right side of the road, take the narrow walled track on the left directly behind the building, and ignore the vehice access track to the right. This will lead you eventually to Cromwell Woods. I’d lived up here for 7 years before I ever ventured here, but it’s one of the many nice short walks on Beacon Hill and probably the best in my opinion. After 200m, the walls give way to a patch of open land before you enter the woods for a peaceful mile of quiet woodland, interrupted only by dogs and their owners. Ignore the path to the right 400m into the woods, and head straight down the main track.

Eventually you will reach the end of the woods and join a farmers access track, drop down past the farm, and turn right towards the main road onto Brier Lane, ignoring the perpetually barking dog. All you need to do now is take a short walk towards Brighouse and you are at your next establishment, Casa Del Lago, not a traditional pub, but with panoramic views from the garden of the entire valley over the water skiing lake, it’s best taken in during summer. However the heated balcony makes it very comfortable during the cooler months of the year as well, with 2 – 3 cask ales on tap, normally a Westmoreland ale and rotating guests, as well as several good continental beers if others in your party are partial to that. Its also a good place for a mid walk lunch if you feel the need.

After dislodging yourself from the sofas, you carry on along the road towards our destination for 1/2 mile, and to the best pub for ale on this walk, the Red Rooster. I’m sure there is no need for introduction to this pub for readers of Caldercask. Seven or eight well kept beers on rotation, pies and pasties from the local Ingfield Farm Shop served with peas and mint sauce, and a proper pub interior with stripped floorboards, traditional stools and tables. To be honest when researching this walk it was tempting to end it here, but I suffered and pushed on to yet another pub, its hard work you know. Ales on tap regularly include Moorhouses, Saltaire and Copper Dragon’s products among many others.

It is now a case of taking the main road into Brighouse and heading into the town centre to conclude this walk.

Brighouse town centre itself could be host to a very productive pub crawl, in this case I’ll finish at one of two pubs, and leave the Brighouse circuit extension to this pub walk up to your imagination. Unfortunately, what I considered to be the best real ale pub in the town is no longer open due to a fire and subsequent looting of the wreckage. By this, of course I mean the Tipp Inn, a fantastic little bar ran by great staff, situated in the unglamorous vicinity of the local recycling centre. So to keep the mood for todays outing, we’ll end at the Ship Inn on Bethel Street.

The Ship Inn has a had a chequered history until recently, with a less that brilliant reputation being re-enforced by having plastic shielding on the windows for many years. However all of that has changed now, with a refurbishment totally changing the place, at least 4 hand pull taps serving consistently good beer, and regular rotation of guest beers. Alternatively there is Wetherspoons just down the road with a good selection of cheap real ales, I’m not even going to pretend to keep up with their rotation of beer, but lets just say that you’ll find something to your taste, and provision of cheap food to soak up the beer consumed is a bonus as well.

You can now walk back up the hill, or if you are sensible then catch the bus back up and relax at the end of a good afternoon.

BUS SERVICES :
Halifax – Southowram – Brighouse 571, same service for opposite journey,
Halifax – Southowram – Halifax only 572

RAIL : Brighouse – Halifax.

MAP :

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