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Millay
27-05-2010, 22:13
Well this thing is going ahead this Saturday, the Great Escape tickets have been bought and Iíve even convinced a mate to join me on this mad venture. The idea is to get the first train North and visit as many counties/pubs on just the one ticket. Hours of trawling through timetables and the PuG site has resulted in the following aspirational route.

05:53 - Watford Junction
06:40 Milton Keynes - Bucks
Wetherspoons (assuming they actually open at 7am)
07:23 MK
08:04 Rugby - Warks
Wetherspoons if we can make it
08:37 Rugby
09:16 Brum
Breakfast (?)
09:49 Brum
10:29 Worcester - Worcs
Spoons/Dragon Inn
11:02 Worcester
11:31 Cheltenham - Gloucester
Midland Hotel (quick splash and dash)
11:48 Cheltenham
12:17 Worcester
12:29 Worcester
12:49 Colwall - Herefordshire
Crown & a bit of lunch
14:04 Colwall
14:33 Droitwich - West Midlands
Some pubs
15:33 Droitwich
16:11 Brum
16:33 Brum
17:34 Northampton - Northants
Malt & Shovel
18:31 Northampton
19:15 Berkhamsted - Herts
Crystal Palace/Rising Sun
20:15 Berkhamsted
20:27 Watford Junction

All of this of course depends on a number of things all happening,

a) me having a relatively dry day on Friday (unlikely given that it is a mateís 50th Birthday)
b) us both getting the first train
c) every train being on time (there is no contingency plan for missed connections)
d) us not deciding ďsod it, lets stay here for another pintĒ

I reckon we should be able to make six counties, if we do all eight Iíll be amazed, and probably pissed.

Wish us luck. Iíll be taking a notebook and if I can read my notes Iíll report back.

Conrad
27-05-2010, 22:20
I have nothing to add but felt the need to put in a :notworthy:

RogerB
28-05-2010, 07:38
Brilliant, although you do realise you won't get a beer in 'Spoons before 9am.

My own plans to do Brum (as well as everything else I had planned this weekend) have all gone A over T for varying reasons so I can only marvel in jealousy at your efforts and await a full report.

trainman
28-05-2010, 07:43
An ambitious day of travel but maybe the timetable has led to a less ambitious choice of pubs? nb. The 'spoons may be open early, but I thought they didn't serve alcohol until 09:00?
In Berko, I presume you included the Crystal Palace for geographical reasons? (You reviewed it before with avg rating). You can walk to the Rising Sun along the canal towpath from the station and you may want to play a joker there, otherwise you also pass the Boat, which may be an alternative to CP if you haven't been before.

May the rails rise up to meet you....

Grailhunter
28-05-2010, 12:25
Good luck sir. I hope everything runs smoothly but, if not, I'm sure you'll take it in your stride and invoke a contingency plan.

Gann
28-05-2010, 12:41
And good luck from me as well although I think you are completely mad !

I will be thinking of you tomorrow, especially at 5.30PM when I take my expensive seat at Twickenham to watch my beloved Sarries, with the knowledge that I will probably achieve more beers with a zone 1 to 6 travel card on Saturday including the entertainment of a visit to The Barmy Arms to see if the alledged resident nutcase Landlord puts in an appearance.

Oggwyn Trench
28-05-2010, 18:25
Good Luck with the day , sounds a bit knackering for me , i will make do with the 55 bus to Oakengates and the Station beer festival:drinkup:

Millay
29-05-2010, 04:04
In the beginning was the word, and the word was Why?, as in Why has my alarm gone off half way through the bleeding night? Then I remembered this madcap journey around the Midlands. So with the three Sís completed and resplendent with ticket, camera, notebook, maps and timetables Iím ready. Might just have time for a quick breakfast at McDonalds, Iím sure the one near me opens at 5am, we truly are heading for 24-hour Britain. As to me, well I know where Iím heading, and IĎll let you know later whether or not I got there.

trainman
29-05-2010, 06:38
That phrase, 'respectable commitment', might be getting another airing here. You may have some alternative phrases of your own by the end of the mission Millay, but you're off to a flyer & good luck with rest of the schedule.

Andy Ven
29-05-2010, 08:08
I think I'd be tempted to set my alarm on my mobile phone to go off just before I reach the next train stop, just in case I happened to nod off

Conrad
29-05-2010, 12:15
Looking forward to hearing the reports on this, it is a quite extraordinary effort, the starting time alone is enough to scare me, let alone the quantity of beer.

hopwas
29-05-2010, 14:35
Brilliant, although you do realise you won't get a beer in 'Spoons before 9am.

My own plans to do Brum (as well as everything else I had planned this weekend) have all gone A over T for varying reasons so I can only marvel in jealousy at your efforts and await a full report.

I had a crafty pint at Silk Kite BEFORE 9am. Barmaid took pity on me after pleading with her..

Millay
31-05-2010, 07:43
Right, I suppose itís about time I reported back on this, Iíve had a day for both my body to recover and for my mind to remember what happened. I now just need to decipher my scrawled notes.

The day started at 05:15 when I left home and tested out the claim that McDonalds open at 5am. Well they do but they when I eventually spotted a member of staff they seemed pretty surprised that they actually had a customer at that time of the morning. I did consider ordering a Whammy Burger in the style of Michael Douglas in Falling Down :mad: but thought the comedy nuance probably wouldnít be appreciated, so settled for a Sausage & Egg McMuffin and an orange juice. Despite the early hour I was pleased to see that the McDonalds indoctrination process was still effective as I was asked Ďdo you want a hash brown with thatí.

On to the train station and I find to my horror that the 05:53 train is not showing on the departure screens, is this thing going to fail at the first hurdle? There is a special timetable in place today (when isnít there) but Iíd checked and that train was definitely on there. I ask a member of London Midland staff if the train is running and he says ďI hope so, Iím catching that one myself, theyĎve probably just screwed the screens upĒ. With spirits slightly lifted I head for the platform where I think it would arrive and it duly does - the Great Inter County Pub Crawl is on timetable.

We reach Hemel Hempstead where I am due to meet Peter, my crawling companion for the day. I donít see him on the platform, which is a bit worrying. Just as weíre pulling out and Iím looking through the timetable for a train that Peter might be able to get to catch me up somewhere my phone rings and rather breathless Peter asks me which carriage Iím in. When he finds me and gets his breath back he tells me that he dragged his wife out of bed, drove like a madman to the station, jumped out of the car leaving her in the passenger seat in her nightclothes and with a Herculean effort hurled himself onto the train just as the doors were closing. Welcome to the pub crawl mate, I never said it would be easy!!

Millay
31-05-2010, 08:01
The journey to Milton Keynes gives Peter time to recover and we arrive in the land of the concrete cows on time at 06:40. This allows us to take a leisurely stroll up the concrete and glass thoroughfare that is Midsummer Boulevard and we arrive at some sort of glass and metal structure, rather reminiscent of the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh, that turns out to be Wetherspoons. We sit outside for a while and enter dead on 7am, where they seem just as surprised to see us as the guy at McDonalds did. Our request for a couple of halves of Salem Porter were politely refused as they informed us they didnít serve alcohol until 9am, so we settled for an orange juice and a coke. Left at 07:10 to walk back down to the station where we just caught the 07:23 (the fact that these Great Escape tickets donít work at electronic barriers needs to be factored into the planning for any similar endeavours). The first county Buckinghamshire had been successfully negotiated.

Millay
31-05-2010, 08:31
The next county is Warwickshire and we arrive at Rugby at 08:04. After consulting the Google map Iíd brought with me I set off purposefully in what I believe to be the general direction of the Wetherspoons. Peter trustingly follows me, clearly thinking I know where Iím going! I always thought this stop was going to be a bit of a challenge and it took us longer to find the Rupert Brook than I envisaged, but find it we did. We only spent around 5 minutes in here, with Peter spending 4 Ĺ of those minutes in the Gents, he did however have the decency to leave the money for the round before he disappeared. Still no beer but then again we didnít really have time. If we were going to catch the next train we needed a quick route march back to the station, not helped by the fact it had started raining by now. Luckily there were no barriers to negotiate and despite initially heading for the wrong platform we managed to catch the 08:37 and had ticked off our second county.

Millay
31-05-2010, 08:46
We had about 30 minutes at Birmingham but rather than a dash to the Briar Rose we decided to have a healthy breakfast at the Pasty Shop (taking advantage of the BITE Card discount) before catching the 09:49 to Worcester. We arrived at 10:31 and it was hammering down with rain so quickly ran (well as much as I am able to run these days) to the Postal Order. The first pints of the day were had here, Goffs Galahad for me and Brains Rev James for Peter :drinkup:. Weíd ticked of the third county of Worcestershire but there was no time to hang around as the next train on the schedule was the 11:02 to Cheltenham Spa, so we rushed back to the station.

Millay
31-05-2010, 09:24
And this, dear reader, is where things started to go a bit wrong, well it was inevitable really. As the train pulled in it was announced as the First Great Western service to Gloucester and I realised that the tickets weren’t valid on FGW trains. We could either risk it, buy another ticket or give up on doing Cheltenham.

We had plenty of time to debate this as some platform cabaret had been laid on for us.First we had the guard hollering at a young girl with a large suitcase to get on the train, and to his credit Peter did go and offer his help. She seemed to be waiting for an old guy on crutches to get off first but when she finally boarded the doors closed and the train readied itself to pull out. It was then that the afore-mentioned guy banged on the door, shouted to the guard that he had a rucksack on board and hurled one of his crutches to the floor as the train pulled out, screaming obscenities towards the guard of the type that frankly I wouldn’t have expected from the older generation. I think it was something along the lines of ‘My :moremad:ing rucksack is on there, what the :moremad: am I supposed to do now, it’s got all my :moremad:ing walking gear in it, you’ve ruined my whole :moremad:ing holiday’. He was standing among four or five other bags and rucksacks and the thing that amazed us more than his language was why a septuagenarian on crutches would embark on a walking holiday with so much luggage.

After a bit of debate about whether the guy was actually trying to get off the train or to board it, as Peter insisted, we thought we should reflect on our current situation and decide what we were going to do now. At least this episode had taken the attention away from what had been a piss-poor bit of planning and research on my part :o . In my defence I have since found that the London Midland Worcester to Gloucester service was only discontinued in December 2009. I wasn’t too bothered about missing out Cheltenham anyway as the thought of a 17 minute dash to the pub and back for the next train wasn’t particularly inviting.

Millay
31-05-2010, 09:50
We decided to do the next county on the schedule, which was Herefordshire, and the little village of Colwall. We spotted a train going part of the way, to Malvern Link, so we decided to catch that and have a look around to see if there was a pub close to the station. There wasnít and it was still lashing down with rain so we hung around for the 11:40 train going to Colwall where we arrived a few minutes later and found the Crown Inn. They didnít open until midday but took pity on us waiting in the rain and opened the doors early. Nice pub this, friendly service, clean and tidy, two bars, pool table. The beer selection reflected the fact that it is tied to Enterprise, GK IPA, Abbot and Bombardier. The Abbot had clearly gone but was quickly replaced with a decent pint of Bombardier :drinkup: and we also took the opportunity to grab some lunch, scampi & chips for Peter and a tasty pasta meatballs dish for me. Suitably fortified, and with the rain abating a little we caught the 13:04 train back to Worcester. A text exchange with some mates at Lords confirmed that there had been no play in the Test Match and it was still raining there, never mind, theyíll be in a bar somewhere, better than spending all day sitting on trains anyway :(.

Millay
31-05-2010, 10:10
13:22 back in Worcester and having missed out Gloucestershire we were now about an hour ahead of schedule. As the rain had stopped I took the opportunity to introduce Peter to one of my favourite pubs in Worcester, The Plough. Most people who have visited this place will have gone away with fond memories, it’s what pubs of old were all about, good beer and good conversation. Peter had the Millstones True Grit and I had the Malvern Black Pear :drinkup: . Unlike time in this place we couldn’t stand still, I wanted to do the Dragon Inn as well before leaving but again underestimated the walk. We grabbed quick halves in here, another Millstones for Peter, something with Vale in the title I think, and a half of Alcazar for me from a brewery I’d never heard of before, the Little Ale Cart brewery :drinkup: . We were probably only in the Dragon for 5-6 minutes before rushing back to the station for the 14:22 train to Droitwich Spa.

Millay
31-05-2010, 10:27
Now, I had Droitwich down as qualifying as a stop in the Ďcountyí of the West Midlands but good old Wiki tells me that itís actually in Worcestershire, but also in the Ďregioní of the West Midlands, so Iím a bit confused. Anyway, we arrived in whatever county we were in just after 14:30 and were in the Westcroft Arms about 10 minutes later. 20 minutes later we were out again after a couple of pints. Peter had the only cask beer Bombardier, I played it safe with a Guinness :drinkup: , neither were particularly good, and may even have contributed to Peterís continuing frequent trips to the Gents. Nice enough pub though well decorated and they even had some :twigs::twigs::twigs: (Iíll add some photos to this report at some stage). Plus someone there seemed to have an obsession with Marilyn Monroe judging by all the photos on the walls.

Off to the Riflemans Arms next for another 20 minute slurp, in this case we both went for the Ringwood Boondoggle :drinkup: while watching the start of the Millwall v Swindon play-off final. More Marilyn Monroe photos in here, strange place Droitwich. This inexorable journey then continued with the 15:33 train to Birmingham New Street arriving at 16:15. Just time for a quick half in the Shakespeare on the station to formally tick off the West Midlands, in case Droitwich didnĎt qualify, and see that there was some play in the Test Match. The 16:33 train beckoned, and we were off again.

Millay
31-05-2010, 10:46
This leg of the journey was a bit of a challenge, just over an hour on the train and tiredness was starting to set in. We managed to stay awake though and arrived in Northampton at 17:34, in the middle of a monsoon. So we did the only sensible thing and jumped in a cab to The Malt Shovel and took cover. Getting towards the end now and we start getting a bit braver on the beer front with the excellent Old Jock Ale at 6.7% from Broughtons Brewery :drinkup: . A three minute call to the guys at Lords showed the ups and downs of cricket. Yes they stared play around 3.15, (big roar) no but it was close, (bigger roar) yes, a wicket got him, (dull groan) and theyíre off again for rain. Fortunately the rain had stopped where we were so we walked back to the station. We really should have learned from earlier in the day but we left ourselves far too little time to get there so had to rush and after forcing our way through the barriers we found the train doors locked shut. But the helpful guard ushered us through his door and we were on the 18:31, and somehow Ďon timetableí. As we passed through the Northamptonshire countryside we reflected on the fact that we had now successfully made 6 counties and were on our way to the seventh.

Millay
31-05-2010, 11:03
We arrived in Berkhamsted in the county of Hertfordshire at 19:15 and headed for the closest pub, the Crystal Palace. As was customary Peter thrust a £10 note at me and rushed off to the Gents. Beers hadnít been that inspiring here on previous visits so I got a couple of halves of Milestones Crusader :drinkup: with the intention of moving on to the Rising Sun. However the Crusader was very good and we both decided that weíd done enough walking for a while so stayed there and had another pint :drinkup: . A curious handwritten poster on the notice board informed us that someone was looking for a Rhythmic Gymnast, to play in a covers band. On closer investigation it transpired that they were looking for a Rhythm Guitarist - must get my eyes tested :cool:. Following a debate about the boundaries of Middlesex County we left and caught the 20:15 train arriving in Hemel Hempstead shortly afterwards where I delivered Peter back into the loving arms of his wife, who he'd left in the car park some 14 hours earlier - I wonder if she'd been home.

trainman
31-05-2010, 11:11
Reeespect!!! :notworthy:

Millay
31-05-2010, 11:19
So, bang on timetable I arrived back at Watford Junction at 20:27. But this whole thing about missing Gloucestershire was bugging me, Iíd set out to do eight counties and only done seven. The answer was clear, my penance was to stay on the train and add Greater London to the list. I did this at the Doric Arch at Euston where I had a pint and a half of Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted :drinkup: amongst some celebrating Millwall fans. I also picked up a voicemail message from Peter who had remembered a conversation between the elderly ranting walker and the train guard at Worcester, that proved he was trying to get on the train and not off it, and was eager to tell me about it. Yeah OK Peter, you win, he was trying to get on the train. Finally the 21:31 train took me back to Watford and I arrived home around 22:10, some 17 hours after setting out in the morning, somewhat knackered, poorer of pocket but richer of experience.

an_ecumenical_matter
31-05-2010, 11:20
There is an excellent pub in Malvern link called the Nags Head,14 handpulls. About 10 minutes walk,uphill............

Millay
31-05-2010, 11:28
For those who like this sort of thing, and I have to admit that I do, here are the stats.

Total crawling time - 16 hours 55 minutes

Number of train journeys - 13
Counties visited - 8
Time spent on trains - 6 hours 51 minutes
Longest journey - 61 minutes
Shortest journey - 9 minutes
Average journey time - 32 minutes

Pubs visited - 12
Pints drunk - 9 Ĺ :drinkup:
Time spent in pubs - 6 Hours 5 minutes
Longest visit - 67 minutes
Shortest visit - 5 minutes
Average visit time - 25 minutes

Millay
31-05-2010, 11:30
So what have I learned from all of this?

When someone tells you you’re mad to do something like this - believe them.

Never trust the Bank Holiday weather in England

If the Worcester to Gloucester timetable isn’t on the London Midland website, it’s probably not their service :muppet:

Wetherspoons do actually open at 7am.

Never argue with a crippled septuagenarian hill walker

There is no such thing as ‘just a 10 minute walk from the station’.

It’s very rare for a Rhythmic Gymnast to be playing in a covers band.

Millay
31-05-2010, 11:33
There is an excellent pub in Malvern link called the Nags Head,14 handpulls. About 10 minutes walk,uphill............
You know that I don't do hills a_e_m. We did ask someone about nearby pubs and did set off, probably for the Nags Head. However it was pouring with rain and we decided we wouldn't have had enough tme for a pint so we turned around. An opportunity missed it seems. Maybe next time.

Millay
31-05-2010, 12:18
This epic journey has now been immortalised as a PuG Pub Crawl (http://www.pubsgalore.co.uk/crawl/viewcrawl.php?crawl=550) . The route map looks interesting.

hopwas
31-05-2010, 14:55
Shame you didn't visit my home county Staffordshire.. you can travel from New Street to Tamworth. Directly opposite Tamworth Station is Tweeddale Arms. They sell only one real ale.. Old Speckled Hen.

Maldenman
31-05-2010, 15:16
You're not selling that one too well Hoppy!

hopwas
31-05-2010, 15:18
You're not selling that one too well Hoppy!

Why? :eek::confused:

Strongers
31-05-2010, 15:26
As Mr T would say... I aint getting on no train with that crazy fool!;)

:notworthy:

Maldenman
31-05-2010, 15:28
Why? :eek::confused:

There's no way I'd get on a train for OSH mate!

hopwas
31-05-2010, 15:33
There's no way I'd get on a train for OSH mate!

:)

The Globe Inn (5 mins walk from Station) usually sells 2 real ales and is graded building. Sir Robert Peel (also 5 mins walk) sells 3 real ales. BUT most direct (from station via Victoria Road) is world famous The Boldbridge (JDW) usually sells 6 real ales. (well world famous part is lie)

Delboy20
31-05-2010, 15:35
Shame you didn't visit my home county Staffordshire.. you can travel from New Street to Tamworth. Directly opposite Tamworth Station is Tweeddale Arms. They sell only one real ale.. Old Speckled Hen.

I did a pub crawl round Tamworth last year. The Tweedale was my first stop as I got off the train.

hopwas
31-05-2010, 15:45
I did a pub crawl round Tamworth last year. The Tweedale was my first stop as I got off the train.

:eek::eek::eek:

Really?! I wonder which pubs you have visited? I am very keen :D

Millay
31-05-2010, 15:48
Shame you didn't visit my home county Staffordshire.. you can travel from New Street to Tamworth. Directly opposite Tamworth Station is Tweeddale Arms. They sell only one real ale.. Old Speckled Hen.

I think the Birmingham to Tamworth route may be run by a different train company Hoppy. I did consider taking in Tamworth and trying to find the famous Silk Kite but it wasnít that easy. It could be fitted in to a long distance crawl but would probably mean taking a long long early morning journey right up to Liverpool then making my way back via Cheshire, Staffs, Warks etc. Maybe Iíll try that the next time they run this deal.

oldboots
31-05-2010, 17:13
Great stuff as ever Millay, you have inspired me to try a northern version although Northern Rail and Arriva are a bit tight when it comes to special deals.

RogerB
01-06-2010, 08:23
First chance I have had to read through - fantastic effort.

Hopefully I will be doing a "Guide to watching the World Cup in remote parts of Scotland" crawl from June 11-27. I hope to cram in as many games in as many pubs as I can. Where possible I will try and do first and second halves in different pubs. Mrs B will probably not be talking to me beyond Day 3, especially as she will be giving me the "driving" grief so it may all go t*ts up but we'll see how it goes.

ROBCamra
07-06-2010, 14:32
Great stuff as ever Millay, you have inspired me to try a northern version although Northern Rail and Arriva are a bit tight when it comes to special deals.

Hmmm! Train companies being tight in YORKSHIRE :eek::eek: Surely not. :p

aleandhearty
07-06-2010, 22:15
Hmmm! Train companies being tight in YORKSHIRE :eek::eek: Surely not. :p

:D Welcome back ROB. I thought it had been a little quiet of late.

oldboots
09-06-2010, 20:11
Hmmm! Train companies being tight in YORKSHIRE :eek::eek: Surely not. :p

to be fair they both "serve" Lancashire :D

ROBCamra
10-06-2010, 10:07
to be fair they both "serve" Lancashire :D

They do indeed but the pricing is very different on the Yorkshire side.

From Rochdale it costs £3.30 return to Todmorden (4 stops taking 11 minutes) as we cross the border. :moremad:

It costs £3.20 from Rochdale to Wigan return (God knows how many stops taking over an hour) as we stay on Gods side of the Pennines.

oldboots
10-06-2010, 16:16
They do indeed but the pricing is very different on the Yorkshire side.

From Rochdale it costs £3.30 return to Todmorden (4 stops taking 11 minutes) as we cross the border. :moremad:

It costs £3.20 from Rochdale to Wigan return (God knows how many stops taking over an hour) as we stay on Gods side of the Pennines.

Probably trying to encourage people to go to Wigan :rolleyes: Tod' doesn't need to encourage people to visit the delights of Calderdale :whistle: