Real Ale Rambles

REAL ALE RAMBLE 285 Saturday 20th July

MOUNT ST BERNARD 4 miles and 1 abbey

BUSES : 10.20 X6 from Coventry arrives Leicester St Margarets 11.35

12.17 No29 from Leicester arrives Whitwick 13.06

Return No29 leaves Whitwick 16/36/56 after the hour and arrives Leics 10/30/50 past (4.36 arrives Leics 5.30) Last X6 from Leicester 5.50

This month, for a change, we are visiting an abbey! The simple reason is that the abbey makes beer, and very good beer at that. The story behind this is as follows:

Western monastic life was founded by a sixth century monk, St Benedict. In the following centuries there was a desire for a more simple monasticism and the Cistercian reform was the outcome, originating in Citeaux in France. Seventy-six Cistercian monasteries were founded in England before all monasteries were suppressed by Henry VIII. By the seventeenth century need for further reform was felt and the 'Cistercians of the Strict Observance' came into being on the continent. Following the French Revolution the sole survivors of the 'Cistericans of the Strict Observance' were the monks of La Trappe and eventually the name Trappist was substituted for Cistercian. As well as a reputation for rather joyless austerity together with bodily mortification the Trappists also became associated with a brewing tradition! It can't have been such a bad life then! When the July Revolution of 1830 broke out in France, the mainly Irish and English monks of the Trappist Abbey at Melleray near Nantes were forcibly put on a ship for Ireland, where they founded the abbey of Mont Melleray near Waterford. Then when one of these monks was seeking alms in England he met Ambrose de Lisle, heir to Garendon Hall in Leicestershire, which had itself been built on the site of a dissolved Cistercian Abbey. Ambrose had recently converted to Catholicism, so he donated land in Charnwood Forest, once part of the estate of the old abbey.

The Cistercians returned to Charnwood Forest in 1835, the first monastery founded in England since the dissolution of Henry VIII. The new monastery was designed by Augustus Welby Pugin, the great Gothic revivalist architect and commenced in 1840 but not completed until 1939. The abbey thrived until recent times, when the monks found that their income from agriculture declined and was no longer sufficient to sustain the monastery, so they decided to revive the Trappist tradition of brewing, last year becoming the first monastic brewery in England since Henry VIII. The result is a beer called 'Tynt Meadow', named after the original meadow given by Ambrose de Lisle for the monastery to be built upon. 'Tynt Meadow' is the goal of our quest.

We meet at Pool Meadow at 10.15 am to catch the 10.20 X6 bus to Leicester, which arrives at 11.35. Then the 12.17 No 29 arrives at Whitwick at 13.06. Whitwick is a village with a mining and quarrying history and hence a surprising number of surviving pubs for such a small place. We set off uphill out of Whitwick and take a track opposite a little shop. The track takes us through typical Leicestershire scenery of rocks, woods and grassland.

We pass Whitlock Quarry, now abandoned, but difficult to see through heavy fencing and woodland, until we approach the abbey. When we get there we can visit the shop and buy some beer to take back with us. I shall try to remember to take a bottle opener and some plastic mugs so that we can say we have had a drink at the abbey, as long as the monks don't object!

Then we make the pleasant walk back, and maybe visit a pub at Whitwick. I have marked a couple of them on the map. We must be on the return bus by 4.36 at the latest in order to catch the last bus from Leicester, which leaves at 5.50.

REAL ALE RAMBLE 286 Saturday 24th August


3 miles walking, lots of travel, and 3 pubs

There is not a lot of walking this month, but a great deal of travel. Ever since Church End got their third pub I have thought that it should be possible to visit them all in one day. So here goes.

We meet at Coventry station at 10.00 a.m. and catch the 10.17 train to Nuneaton. We arrive there at 10.38 and change to the 10.55 for Atherstone. Getting to Atherstone at 11.00 we then set off for Ridge Lane. This means walking along the canal to bridge 39, then through The Outwoods and across the golf course, past Mancetter Hill Farm to Putley Chase Lane and finally to Ridge Lane after just over an hour's walking. Here we visit the CHURCH END BREWERY TAP for our first Church End beer of the day.

At 12.47 we catch the No 41 bus, which takes us back to Atherstone for 1.00 p.m. The train leaves at 1.28 and gets to Nuneaton at 1.34. Then at 2.00 the No 66 bus leaves for Stoke Golding, arriving at 2.23. Here we visit the GEORGE for our second Church End beer.

The return bus leaves Stoke Golding at 3.20, getting back to Nuneaton at 3.40, where the 4.10 train leaves for Birmingham, arriving at 4.38. At 4.50 a train leaves for Worcester, arriving at 5.31. Here we walk down to the DRAGON, for our third and final Church End beers. Trains return at 6.24, 6.51 etc.

So, as regards train tickets, if you are starting from Coventry, you will need -

A single Coventry to Nuneaton

A return Nuneaton to Atherstone

A single Nuneaton to Birmingham

A return Birmingham to Worcester

And, if you don't have a bus/train pass, also Birmingham to Coventry

Plus the bus journeys


Sept 20 (Friday) 3 BREWERIES Meet 3.00 p.m. at TWISTED BARREL, Fargo Village (Byatts opens 4 pm Friday, Dhillons 5.00 pm)

Oct LONDON (Contact Paul Hamblett)

Nov EASTERN GREEN (Re-run of last years walk)






May Lost villages

Copies of the walks are available at Beer Gonzo, Earlsdon.

SUNDAY LUNCH WALKS - in conjunction with the Health Development Service of Coventry City Council.

These walks all start at 12 noon. Copies of these walks can be obtained from Beer Gonzo in Earlsdon, or for more details contact moc.liamg@ttekculfg>

SUNDAY LUNCH WALK 85 - Sunday 28th July


Thus must be the furthest from Coventry we have ventured so far on a Sunday. I have chosen Newbold Comyn because it is such a large area of parkland. Most people drive there, park up and go the the swimming pool, or the Comyn Arms, or the play area, and think they have seen it all. Yet there is a huge area, including the Campion Hills, River Leam and Leam Valley Wetlands to explore. So I have planned a walk around the edges of Newbold Comyn to see all the varied landscapes within the park.

We meet at the EPISODE HOTEL on the corner of Upper Holly Walk and Willes Road at 12 noon. It has limited parking so you may have to leave your car in one of the side streets. There is a pleasant little bar at the rear. Those of us who are real ale drinkers will have to drink bottled Belgian beers as there are no handpumps.

At 12.30 we set off along Upper Holly Walk towards the Comyn. We follow the road left, past a school, and then uphill into the Campion Hills. Here there are great views across Leamington to Warwick, with the castle prominent in the distance, if we get a clear day!

Next we cross a field to the communications mast, which will be a constant landmark today. We go through woodland and follow the edge of the park eastwards, then turn a right angle. The adjacent fields and farms can be seen as we walk south. When we reach the Leam Valley we turn west. We pass hides that look out over the wetlands, which fill in the winter, but in August will probably be more like drylands.

Then we reach the banks of the River Leam, which we follow all the way to the swimming pool. There are some short steep sections to negotiate along the river bank. Now we make for the NEWBOLD COMYN ARMS, in the outbuildings adjoining the old farmhouse, which later became the golf clubhouse and is now a restaurant. Here we should find a good selection of ales.

From this pub it is a short walk back along Upper Holly Walk to the Episode Hotel. The hotel is run by Spaniards, who sell tapas at the bar. A good way to set ourselves up for that long journey home!



Meet at Oakes Farm, Balsall Street, size=large


Meet at Millpool, Hipswell Highway



Copies of these walks can be obtained from Fred & Sharon. They are usually in Beer Gonzo in Earlsdon on Thursdays, from around 7 pm to 9 pm.