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Thread: Trans-Pennine Real Ale Trail

  1. #1
    I'll stay on me own Andy Ven's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Black Country

    Default Trans-Pennine Real Ale Trail

    I did the famous Trans-Pennine Real Ale crawl on Friday, travelling from Manchester to Leeds. I thought that this would be the most appropriate forum to post a review. I have added comments against each individual pub I visited on Pubs Galore but I thought I’d add some practical advice.

    Old Boots has already set up a version of the crawl on PG

    and there are similar versions described elsewhere on the internet:

    Chester and South Clwyd CAMRA website message board
    The official site

    From Manchester Piccadilly we caught the train to Huddersfield stopping at:

    Stalybridge – Station Buffet Bar
    Greenfield – The Railway Inn
    Cross the border between Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire
    Marsden – The Riverhead Brewery Tap and Dining Room
    Slaithwaite (pronounced Slaw-it) – The Commercial (The Swan in Slaithwaite is the GBG entry, run by the same people but The Commercial has longer opening hours and has recently been overhauled)
    Huddersfield – The Head of Steam (although Huddersfield has two pubs in the station – the other one being the King’s Head – and a good choice of other real ale pubs locally such as the Sportsman, the Grove and the Rat & Ratchet)

    From Huddersfield we caught the train to Leeds, stopping at:

    Mirfield – The Navigation
    Dewsbury – West Riding
    Batley – Cellar Bar
    Leeds – to the Travelodge via the Scarborough Hotel, The Brewery Tap and Whitelocks (good back alley real ale pub)


    In order to hop on and off the train, a Greater Manchester off-peak Rail Ranger Ticket (for use after 9.30 am) costs 4 per adult (see

    A West Yorkshire off-peak Day Rover costs 5.30 per adult or two adults can use a family one for 8.80, without any requirement to be accompanied by any children (see

    Timetable details are on the National Rail Enquiries website. Our first journey used TransPennine Express trains but from then on we used the basic but functional Northern Rail Service.

    We were lucky enough to be able to purchase the Day Rovers for the second part of our journey in advance of the day of travel.

    My individual pub reviews became more vague and brief the further along the crawl we went, due in part to starting at a sprint in the excellent Station Buffet Bar in Stalybridge and also to my cold sapping my energy.

    If you think that the whole crawl would be too much to do, I would recommend (for time and quality) visiting at least the 3 bars on station platforms at Stalybridge, Huddersfield and Dewsbury, although none of the pubs we visited were more than a few minutes walk from the station.
    Last edited by Andy Ven; 17-05-2010 at 20:25.
    Waes hael!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2010

    Default Worth the trip – from wherever you start

    After seeing the TV programme about the Pennine real ale trail – and then reading the reviews (including this one), which was very helpful, my wife and I, along with a couple of friends (husband and wife) who like us are life-long lovers of good beer, decided to make the pilgrimage from Plumstead/Welling, South East London (It’s much easier if you live locally and can visit each pub, as and when, at your leisure – not the case for us Southerners). We opted for the idea of lodging in Leeds, travelling on the fast train to the furthest stop we wished to visit (Stalybridge) and working our way back on the slow train, taking in each station and its recommended pub.

    Because we all still work, we chose to take a half-day’s holiday, travel from London to Leeds on Friday afternoon, fit the beer run in on Saturday and back home on Sunday, ready for work Monday.

    The most economic way to do this was on National Express coaches from London Victoria. By booking well in advance I got four returns, leaving at 3.00 pm on Friday and returning at 2.00 pm Sunday for £45 (the journey time is roughly four and a half hours – if you take a snack and something to read, it’s fine). This included £1 each for insurance (optional) and £1 card handling fee.

    Next on the list was to find somewhere economical to stay. There are a few B&Bs within a couple of miles of the city centre (£5 cab ride) offering low cost, no frills accommodation. We chose the Crescent Hotel in Dewsbury Road. Yes, the rooms were small and basic. However, the beds were very comfortable, there was a tv and tea/coffee making facilities. The rooms were en suite with a modern and efficient shower, wash basin and toilet. In the morning we had a freshly cooked English breakfast with as much piping hot strong tea and toast as we wanted, all served by a very nice gentleman who I think was the owner.

    Arriving in the evening, we didn’t want to go back into town. Luckily there is a pub – The Broadway – not too far down the road (out of the door, cross the road and turn right) which is a lively and friendly Friday night venue. Apparently they do nice food, but their kitchen was closed by the time we got there (I think it shuts at 9.00). Not too big a problem as there was a Chinese take away on the way back.

    In the morning, after breakfast, we headed off to Leeds station to catch the 9.40 to Stalybridge, which takes about 40 minutes. (£12.20 return and as long as you don’t lose your tickets, you can break your journey as many times as you want).

    Although they can’t serve beer until 11.00 (you can get tea/coffe/snacks), it’s worth getting there early because there are lots of things to see in the bar and you are there before the crowds arrive. We bought postcards (you need your own stamps) and took a walk down the road to post them, getting back just as Sylvia (the landlady) was pouring our first pints – lovely. Now I said that we were two couples and that our wives – very fortunately – like good ale. I’d like to point out at this stage that they are ladies from the old sense, ie they prefer to drink halves to our pints (not wishing to be ladettes and keep up with two 6’3”+ blokes). In order to sample as many ales as possible (apparently there are over 30 in the seven pubs that we managed to visit) we agreed to have a different beer each and swap around.

    Apart from the fact that it would take far too long to try and describe all the beers that we tasted, it should be a personal thing. However, I must say that every one of them was served in excellent condition and there wasn’t one that we didn’t enjoy!

    The stopping trains run once an hour and so after two rounds, at 11.50 we started our return journey, first stop Mossley and the Britannia, run by Phil and Alison. Another warm welcome, especially from Alison (a very interesting lady) who serves good food (lots of it local), so we passed up the next train and stayed to have lunch.

    We then stuck to the one hour stop for next three stations – Greenfield, The Railway (where, although we had not long had lunch, we had to sample their famous pork pies served with proper English mustard. I bought the last one they had, much to the annoyance of the locals, and divided it into four to share. It was delicious and recommended!) – Marsden, The Riverhead – and Slaithwaite, The Commercial. When you reach Huddersfield the trains run much more frequently and as the bars both there and at Dewsbury are on the platform (and the fact that we were quite jolly by then) we had no strict schedule, but did return to Leeds around 8.30 and found a very nice Italian restaurant (Café Italia, 7-8 Mill Hill, Leeds, LS1 5DQ) then cab home. In the words of Lou Read ‘a perfect day’. The next morning, after another excellent breakfast, we took a stroll into Leeds to have a look around the shops and a lovely little market very near to the coach station.

    We finished off by visiting a pub, highly rated by a local bobby (The Ship – Ship Yard, Leeds LS1 6LL) in the city centre for a lunchtime refresher before catching our 2.00 pm coach. In our words ‘a damn good weekend’.

    There are more stations, pubs and route plans to take note of when doing this trip (especially if you have the time to visit for a longer period). You can find out about them by reading other reviews and checking out the Transpennine Real Ale Trail website, but we were really pleased with our version and hope that this review is of help to you.


    The Liquids

  3. #3
    Roving RAT ROBCamra's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009


    "Slaithwaite (pronounced Slaw-it) – The Commercial (The Swan in Slaithwaite is the GBG entry, run by the same people but The Commercial has longer opening hours and has recently been overhauled)

    The Commercial is owned by the same people who own The Swan and both are now in the GBG 2011. Shame about the wallpaper and the return valves though.
    A pub is for life not just for Christmas

  4. #4
    The Beerhunter. RogerB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Dartford, Kentshire near Londinium.


    An excellent account O Liquid ones (and welcome to the site - nice to see a few more people from my relatively ale barren vicinity on the prowl for good pubs). This sounds like the sort of trip that is right up my street. I know a few of the pubs mentioned in the 2 reports above and would love to revisit some of them at some time. Plenty of useful tips above.

  5. #5
    This Space For Hire gillhalfpint's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    West Midlands


    Love these reviews. We did a bus crawl that took in Diggle, Dobcross, Uppermill, Greenfield and Oldham one year and visited the great pubs. Also took in Station bars mentioned from either the Bury site or one in Holmfirth where we stayed to visit the excellent Star in Huddersfield beer fest one year.

    The transport for getting around is first class, and staying for a week gives so many options around these parts. Will be at Bury site again in January for the Winter Ales fest in Manchester, so hopefully will get a train ride out again. Depends on where else we need to go around Manchester (Smithfield, Crescent, New Oxford etc).

  6. #6
    I'll stay on me own Andy Ven's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Black Country


    Glad you found it useful and thanks for your feedback - it's what we do it for! I've posted some other crawls in this category and I'm always open to suggestions for new themes.

    I should have added that I recall the 0.3 mile walk back to Marsden station from the Riverhead Brewery Tap is a steep uphill hike between the Railway pub and The Swan, just in case you have an aversion to hill climbing.
    Last edited by Andy Ven; 10-11-2010 at 21:59.
    Waes hael!

  7. #7
    This Space For Hire aleandhearty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    West Yorkshire


    Quote Originally Posted by the liquids View Post
    Arriving in the evening, we didn’t want to go back into town.

    Apart from the fact that it would take far too long to try and describe all the beers that we tasted, it should be a personal thing.

    We finished off by visiting a pub, highly rated by a local bobby (The Ship – Ship Yard, Leeds LS1 6LL) in the city centre for a lunchtime refresher before catching our 2.00 pm coach.
    Wow! No tentative dipping of a big toe into the warm waters of the forums. Rather a swallow dive off the high board!

    Firstly, a warm welcome and congratulations on a very enjoyable read. That's a pretty high standard to follow.

    I realise you were probably dog tired when you got to the B&B in Beeston, but it's a shame you didn't manage to get to The Garden Gate in Hunslet ,only a couple of minutes away by cab, in the next suburb. I'm sure it would have been much more to your taste than The Broadway.

    Don't worry about desscribing / listing beers. We love our 'beer porn' on Pug!

    Not sure The Ship would have been the first choice of many Leeds real ale fans.' but hey-ho, more for next time.
    'And where he supped the past lived still. And where he sipped the glass brimmed full' John Barleycorn, Carol Ann Duffy.

  8. #8
    Spritzer Swallower Chris87's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    South London mate


    Did this a couple of months ago for a mate's birthday. My favourite was the Riverhead Brewery Tap, which I thought was superb and a lovely setting to boot. They also do nice food upstairs. I was quite taken with Marsden generally; A couple of weeks later my flatmate and I went for a walk around the adjacent reservoir and the scenery was lovely, before heading back to the Tap for some beer and food.

    The West Riding is also excellent; I didn't manage to make the Cellar Bar at Batley though.
    It's not big and it's not clever

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2011


    Interesting articles by all, thanks. I have been charged with arranging the ale trail for a group of us from Shropshire.
    Is it worth starting and finishing in Stalybridge turning back at Dewsbury? Any pitfalls? We are looking to arrive on a Saturday morning, stay over and return sometime on the Sunday. This would mean an overnighter in Staly'. Not sure how this would compare with the boozy experiences you guys have had !! good idea? bad idea?

    Cheers all

  10. #10
    Real Ale Drinker Crossste's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010


    Personally i think i would try and overnight in Huddersfield as there some excellent pubs in the town all a short walk from the station. The Grove, Star, Rat & Ratchet and Sportsmans to name a few plus if you have bought a Metro ticket, or even if you haven,t the legendery Sair at Linfit is only a 15min bus ride away.

    Be warned though. Andy Van mentioned the walk up to Marsden station being uphill, which it is, but it pales into insignificance compared with the similar distance walk up from Manchester Rd to the Sair. The last time we did it we were able to do a full Toastie loaf off my mates head.

    As you are doing it over 2 days, and i am presuming ale will be taken on both days, you could probably have a couple of add ons to the trail and take in, perhaps, Sowerby Bridge, where there is a pub on the station, plus some good ones in the town, Halifax with the Pump Rooms and Three Pigeons only 5 mins from the station, both towns being just 15mins ish from Huddersfield and again all doable on the Metro ticket. This area is a real ale oasis where only time and your constitution will limit you.

    If i were doing it i think it would be something like. Saturday:- Batley, Dewsbury, Huddersfield plus add ons. Sunday:- any you missed in Huddersfield, Slaithwaite, Marsden, Greenfield and lastly Staly Vagas having perhaps visited Saturday on your way through.

    Just a word of caution for anybody doing the trail using the Greater M/cr Ranger and the West Yorks Metro tickets. There is a void area which is covered by neither of these tickets between Greenfield and Marsden stations where you change regions so a ticket (£5.50 return = 2 pints) is needed between the 2. Funny how i get a desperate urge for the loo just before Greenfield.
    From the home of the kebab of doom

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