Bank Holiday Monday, being uncharacteristically warm and sunny, E suggested we walk from our house down to the Rose of Lancaster, a Lees pub on the Rochdale Canal and a sometimes haunt of mine. Now the Rose is a managed Lees pub and if I may comment, one of the best run, with a landlord who is ever present and watchful. As my old boss in Scotland all these years ago would likely have said "He runs a good shop." And he does, though this isn't the point of this small post.
It is a downhill forty minute stroll from Tandleman Towers and we wandered down passing first JW Lees Brewery where there seemed to be a fair bit of activity going on and then, the second brewery in Middleton in the shape of Sarsons, where the smell of vinegar was fairly strong and I suspect is always so, whether they are brewing or not. We even get the odd whiff of it at our house. We arrived to the good news that the last cask of Lees previous seasonal, was on. Duly ordered, we took a seat in the beer garden and watched the world going by. It was a mixed crowd, some eating, most just having a drink and many families and couples, whiling away a couple of hours in the pleasant sunshine even though the surroundings are urban rather than rural. Despite the canal being right underneath the beer garden and rolling hills and open countryside behind, the main views are of the Middleton to Oldham road, but it is still a decent spot and the pleasant scene was one we left with a bit of reluctance, especially as the beer was in top form.
We hopped down the steps behind the pub and turned right along the towpath, taking us by way of a further forty minute walk, to our next destination, the Ship Inn, also a Lees house and one of my regular pubs, where I know nearly everyone. The walk along a fairly quiet towpath is marred only by two things in what is lovely countryside. One is cyclists who whizz along without warning bells, their presence only felt at the last moment when they are behind you and the other, the rather intrusive pylons along the route. But these are minor points. The walk, particularly in good weather is truly lovely and recommended. The original engineering has stood the test of time and enhances the open countryside.
The Ship is a pub I've mentioned before. I often drink Bohemia Regent in here, particularly when the weather is warm. Many of the locals and visitors sat canalside, though that requires drinking out of plastic for safety reasons, or crammed into the tiny courtyard where glass is permitted. It was pretty busy, as was the Rose. That's good.
So if you are ever in this area, both pubs are recommended, but do walk along the canal between them.
The Rochdale Canal was started in 1798, so is of course pre Victorian by quite some time, though somehow it seems Victorian. The canal was completed before her reign.
Where are the nice photos then you ask? I nearly fell in off a lock while taking one. It put me off. So go and find out for yourself! The photo shown is from Pennine Waterways and shows the Ship on the right.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
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