A Cambridge Pub Crawl - by Steve Westby 

Last Updated :13/07/03


small coachload of us went to Cambridge yesterday for a very enjoyable 
day out. Inevitably there were some pleasant surprises and a few 

Our first stop was the Live and Let live, one of several splendid pubs we 
tried during the day. I had two Hadrian beers Farne Island and another I 
failed to write down (4.6 or 4.7% with a girl's name?). The blackboard 
promised two West Berkshire beers but they were just being pulled through 
as we moved on. However the bus was picking us up there at 6 so we decided 
to call in again at 5.30 when it reopened for the evening. This plan was 
buggered up when we discovered that it didn't actually reopen till 6pm when 
the bus left - you can never rely on the times quoted in the GBG!

Second stop was The Cambridge Blue and to my amazement we received a 
friendly welcome. Previous visits had found this to be one of the most 
unfriendly pubs we had ever been in, firstly a few years ago the pompous 
bloke behind the bar with the handlebar moustache had so many rules it was 
amazing - no football shirts (it was being worn by a 35 yr old bloke who 
was with his family), no smoking, no talking about football (honest!) etc. 
etc. Then eighteen months ago my mobile phone rang, it was a call from a 
lady (not polite to give her age but she is even older than me) she was on 
her way to find us at the pub and had got lost - the chuffing barman tried 
to fine me and when I told him to get stuffed a very haughty landlady tried 
to tell me off for being rude to her barman. I told her off for being 
unfriendly and for her barman being rude to me, following which a heated 
discussion ensued during which she could not explain to me how this lady 
could find the pub if she had not rang me as I didn't know she was lost - 
chuffing extra sensory perception presumably!

Anyway on this visit the couple behind the bar were very pleasant indeed. 
The Mauldons Midsummer Gold was on excellent form although the Bogart Hole 
Clough Sundial had an overpowering butterscotch smell and taste - has 
anyone ever had a decent beer from this brewery? There was a "no mobile 
phone" sign in the pub, so my mates took my photograph next to it - talking 
on the phone of course! As soon as we got outside we rang the guys who were 
still in there, but the couple behind the bar just laughed. Ok childish I 
know but that's drunken blokes for you.

Next up was the Kingston Arms, another cracking pub that sells no keg or 
bottled beers (our token lager drinker had the only bottled product in the 
place - bottle conditioned Brittany cider. Despite being a Lidstones house 
there were only two of their beers on, mild and session bitter. There was 
also two Mighty Oak beers, Maldon Gold and another with a forgettable name 
(as I have forgotten it!). Taylors Landlord, Hop Back Summer Lightning and 
Entire Stout and an Adnams beer completed the set. All beers were in good 
nick, as were the splendid, if a bit pricey, lamb sausage sandwiches.

We then took a fair hike to the Elm Tree on Orchard Street. Bizarre! It is 
a Charles Wells house and according to the GBG opens all day. When we 
walked in the place was empty and the guy was tapping away on a computer 
which was in the corner of the pub. He clearly was annoyed to be disturbed 
and announced that he was about to lock up. When it dawned on him that 
we were on a pub crawl, the photocopied and highlighted maps being a clue, 
he asked how many of us there were. When we said "22 altogether" he said he 
would stay open, but he had been so rude, and the selection of beers looked 
so poor, we said no "sod it". He bellowed after us down the street "well 
sod you then!". How on earth did this place get in the guide?

But it turned i our favour as we spotted some of our crowd sat outside a 
pub a few yards down the street which wasn't on our schedule and therefore 
could not have been in the GBG. An absolutely cracking boozer called "The 
Free Press" which I had heard of but never visited before. It sold Greene 
King mild, IPA and Abbott plus St Austell Tribute. The mild was the best 
pint of the day, much to my surprise as I am not a Greene King fan. We sat 
outside and the landlord came out to us to ask if we wanted any more beer, 
he apologised for having to close but he was going to a wedding, otherwise 
he would have stayed open for us. I would be intrigued to learn why this 
place isn't in the GBG, particularly as our next pub was and clearly 
shouldn't be.

The St Radegund was in our view an appalling place, dirty and unfriendly - 
the gents toilet even had a padlock on the cubicle, which led to lots of 
theories being suggested as to what you would do if you needed to use this 
particular facility! The beer we all ordered was Milton Jupiter and it was 
very poor indeed, so bad that I left most of mine. The other two beers were 
London Pride and Spitfire. We quickly moved on across the road to The 
Champion of the Thames, an ok pub serving GK IPA and Abbott and St Austell 

From there we passed the Tram Depot and decided to go in to use the 
facilities - upstairs JDW style. I was surprised how this place had been 
blandified since it was first opened as a rather splendid Earl Soham pub. 
Everards beers on here but most of us decided to return to the Kingston 
Arms. This was followed by a visit to the Bachanallia off licence - on of 
the best beer shops I have ever been in with a superb range of UK and 
foreign beers - I had spent twenty quid before the knock came on the window 
to get on the bus.

On the way back we stopped at the Exeter Arms in Barrowden in a picturesque 
Rutland village. This place is home of the Blencowe Brewery but the beers 
were not particularly good and the landlord clearly wasn't keen on us being 
there, he obviously thought we lowered the tone despite being a mixed group 
with an average age of about 40 and including a local councillor, a senior 
civil servant and a retired accountant (ok that one's me so it doesn't count!)

On to our final port of call The Green Man in Stamford. Inveralmond Lia 
Fail, a Tripple FF beer, A City of Cambridge Beer and a beer from the 
Portchester Brewery. I went for the Portchester beer first as I had not had 
any before, but sadly it was very poor and I left most of it. The 
Inveralmond and Triple FFF beers were good though.

All in all a cracking day out.

< Back to the Stories Page >


Go to Scoopergen's homepage...