Review of ‘The Peak District Pub Guide’, by Andrew McCloy

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 24th March 2003, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

by Andrew McCloy
Johnson Publishing
ISBN 0-9542574-0-5 (2003)

It is always interesting to see how writers deal with defining the Peak District. Nobody looking for a good pub could fall out with the area covered by this book; split into four parts, it centres on the national park but also extends in all directions further afield.

Time was when polite society accepted only men as regular pub-goers, perhaps with their dogs in tow, but not ladies and never children. Today, though, all can find a welcome and this book tells you exactly where. Author Andrew McCloy has undertaken the onerous task of investigating more than 200 establishments in the Peak. All his visits were unannounced and every entry in his guide has been carefully inspected and judged on its individual merit. This results in a broad cross-section regardless of size, grandeur and apparent popularity.

There is enough information here to choose a different pub every week for several years, whether for an unhurried homemade lunch, a hearty 'walkers' meal to replace those calories, or a decent pint and bar game. Each establishment is shown with details of its beer list - naming those which brew their own; typical menu and specials - not forgetting vegetarian options; suitability for children - including description of play areas; attitude towards dogs; live music nights and overnight accommodation. Some pubs lay on courtesy transport and one even plays host to a weekly Folk Train. This is a real train ride for drinkers and musicians.

The final temptation to set you off in Andrew McCloy's footsteps is the description of each pub's location, backed up with an essential look at indoor comforts plus special mention of great views and outdoor seating. Typically you might read: 'with fishing rights', 'eggs from pub's own hens', 'Guinness Milk shake', 'seasonal oysters', 'muddy boots welcome', 'hot and cold meals from 8am to 10 pm'.

Forgetting all the above, this book makes a good read simply for the entertaining and well-researched histories of some of the oldest buildings in the Peak. Some pubs have had surprising former lives, ranging from a vicarage to a monastery and a morgue to a brothel! Here are anecdotes, ghost stories, explanations of pub names and a short guide to brewing. Two excellent indexes list all the establishments both in name order and by location.

Review by Julie Bunting

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