Issue 73 - October 2012
Go to Previous Hop Press
Go to Next Hop Press
The cover of our last edition, in the Spring, showed the dismal boarded-up image of the Junction, in St Denys, Southampton, after the devastating fire earlier in the year. This edition has a much happier picture as we welcome the Junction, fully restored to health, back into the city's pub scene.
The re-opening, in a format described by Greene King as their 'Local Hero' concept, demonstrates a remarkable acceptance by the national brewer of the unstoppable power of customer choice. It is, after all, less than six years since the saga of the Lewes Arms, in Lewes, Sussex.
For those whose memories fail them, the Lewes Arms is a small, corner pub, about half a mile from the Harveys brewery, acquired by Greene King in 1998, but continuing to sell Harveys Sussex Bitter (at a rate of 4:1 over Greene King's IPA). By December 2006 the brewery's pride could take no more and the Harveys beer was withdrawn but they could not have expected the resulting public uproar - the customers boycotted the pub, trade dropping 90%, the national press, broadsheet and tabloid, took up the case and both the council and the MP became involved.
After 133 days the company gave in, a fine bank of six pumps was fitted - three for Harveys beers, two for Greene King and one for a cider - even the company was restructured with one director resigning and the managed house division being re-organised from top to bottom.
The 'Local Hero' concept seems to be very much influenced by the bruising experience of the battle of Lewes (although it is unlikely that Greene King would say so); every Greene King brewed beer is matched with a locally brewed one. There is also a loosely applied policy of managing the spread of the concept such that each one has an 'area of influence' within which there should not normally be another one directly competing. Another local pub recently refurbished into this concept is the Phoenix in Twyford, which also now offers up to eight cask beers.
Greene King eventually sold the Lewes Arms to Fullers but in their wisdom they have retained Harveys beer as a permanent presence.
The ubiquity of the internet, especially with its penetration into social and leisure life, has given rise to many websites purporting to always find you a pub worth going to in whatever benighted part of the land you might be. Such names as 'Beer in the Evening' and 'Ladies who Lunch,' and many, many more, crop up any time one tries to locate a particular pub or find one in a particular place.
But these sites constantly disappoint; in so many cases the entry that pops onto your screen is but a skeleton, covered with messages such as "Enter a review, reviews so far " or "Are you the landlord? Own this entry." Even when the entry appears to have some real, personalised information time and time again it proves to be mistaken or heavily biased. In short, many of these laudably intended ventures are hard to trust in practice.
CAMRA has decided to join the fray, bringing to the problem our unique advantages of a 130,000 plus membership and a countrywide structure of some 150 branches. Our site will run under the title: www.whatpub.com and is intended, eventually to contain up-to-date details of every one of the 70,000 pubs (and clubs) in the country.
Launching the venture at the end of September, CAMRA director Brett Laniosh emphasised that this will entail every branch keeping exact records of every pub within their branch area, even those without real ale and even those (very few) averse to CAMRA's aims! Currently around 38% of branches have uploaded information to the data base. CAMRA chairman, Colin Valentine stressed that the data base will assist in one of our key campaigning aims - enhancing the profile of pub-going and increasing regular pub use.
Until the data base has more content the site is not yet open to the public but CAMRA members can log on using their membership numbers and normal passwords. It is hoped that the system will be fully opened to the public some time in 2013.
The e-petition against the 'beer duty escalator' has passed the crucial 100,000 level at which it has to be given some consideration by Parliament. Out of 16,000 petitions that have been started under this e-Government initiative, the 'scrap the escalator' plea is only the twelfth to reach the crucial 100,000 threshold. (The petition remains open until the end of the year so there's still time to add more name-power; if you have not already signed, visit: www.saveyourpint.co.uk - let's add a few more thousands).
The arbitrary and inflexible escalator mandates that excise duty on beer should increase at each budget by at least the inflation rate plus an extra 2%, year-on-year. It was introduced in 2008 and already by this year's budget had resulted in a 42% increase in duty, damaging an industry that already provides £21billion to the Treasury and supports over one million jobs, quite apart from supporting an institution totally unique to this country - the pub.
Andrew Griffiths MP, chairman of the all-party Parliamentary Beer Group said, paraphrasing Churchill's famous quote: " This is only the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end ." Greg Mulholland, chairman of that other all-party body, the Parliamentary Save the Pub Group, in conjunction with Griffiths will now push for a full three-hour debate by MPs on the matter. Firstly they will have to persuade the House business committee to schedule the debate - something that is not likely before November at the earliest.
To keep up the momentum CAMRA is organising a mass lobby of Parliament on December 12 th at which we hope to have
over 1000 lobbyists seeking to speak to their individual MPs - if every branch responds we could have each one of
the entire 648 current MPs being asked, simultaneously, to come out and speak to an unhappy elector!
Having been closed for many months a new planning application to convert the Rack and Manger at Crawley into a single dwelling has been given the go ahead. Greene King sold the pub, along with the New Inn at Swanmore for a reported £750,000.
Having seen a number of pubs become shops over the last couple of years, we have news of a pub that is due to have a new shop in its car park. Karen Wells, who runs the Chestnut Horse in Easton, planned to open the new venture in mid-September. There is currently no shop in the village and a questionnaire of local residents suggested the venture should have plenty of support.
More good news from Easton is that Janet Graham and Gary Swan took over the Cricketers in August. £35,000 has been spent on refurbishment of the pub that has seen a number of tenants come and go in recent years. The couple also run the Roebuck and the King Alfred in Winchester.
Not far from the King Alfred, the White Swan in Hyde Street is now re-named the Mucky Duck . The lease has been taken on by Jayne Gillin, who also has an interest in three other city pubs, the Green Man in Southgate Street, St James Tavern on Romsey Road and, in North Walls, the Cornerhouse . The pub has undergone substantial refurbishment and is being managed by Jack Norgate, assisted by Matt Sutcliffe.
Someone else with multiple business interests in Winchester is also planning to expand his empire. The owner of the Black Boy , David Nicholson, is hoping to demolish buildings next to the pub in Wharf Hill and construct a B&B to be named the Black Hole. Mr Nicholson also runs the nearby Black Rat restaurant (formerly the Kings Arms ) and the Black Bottle wine bar in Bridge Street. A letter to a local newspaper suggesting that he might be opening an undertakers called the Black Death is thought to be wide of the mark.
Also in Bridge Street, the Rising Sun reopened in July after being closed for four years. It is being run by Alex Bell and Nicola Ramshaw, who previously ran the Horse and Jockey in Curbridge. The Ship Inn , Wales Street also has new licensees in the form of Rob and Hannah Plunton. Just after taking over the couple got married and guests at the reception were entertained by their best man X Factor finalist Chico. They previously ran the Five Bells , at Nether Wallop.
High rents have been blamed for the closure of the Jewry Street bar Plain and Fancy . It opened in August 2009, having previously been trading as "Mix Bar". Co-owner Andy Heller claimed that the £40,000 per year rent was some four times the rate for a similar unit in Hythe in which he has an interest.
Another city venue, Bar 3One in The Square, was seeking to increase custom by extending its opening hours and using an outdoor courtyard as a drinking area. There were numerous objectors to the plans, including the police, but at the last minute most of the proposals were withdrawn. The bar will continue for the time being with its current closing times, which extend to 2.30am Thursday to Saturday.
There is no chance of getting a drink at any time of the day or night anywhere in Stanmore as, following the previous closure of the Stanmore Hotel three years ago, the New Queens Head is still closed. Following the rejection of a previous application to build 14 homes on the site, developer Bargate Homes submitted revised plans for housing and a convenience store. These plans were also rejected as insufficient "affordable" housing was included in the scheme.
Work on a rather larger shop is at long last under way in Weeke. Chimneys pub (the one-time, massive Weeke Hotel) closed in 2004 and was demolished. After a protracted planning process which included a number of appeals, approval was granted in 2009 for the construction of an Aldi supermarket. It is now due to open next year. In the intervening years a Waitrose has already arisen on the next door site - Weeke residents may be spoilt for choice of pasta but will search in vain for a pint.
Shopping at a former pub is also looking to be on the cards in Bishopstoke as Tesco has made an application to covert the Prince of Wales into a shop.
Not a shop but a Travelodge hotel opened during the summer on the site of Earth Bar in Eastleigh. It has taken a while as the bar, which had various names including Charlie Parkers, the Royal Mail, the Golden Eagle and the Crown, closed in September 2007 after a series of incidents led to it losing its licence.
After eight years running a bar in Spain, Glynis and Paul Bates have returned home to be the new licensees of the Brigadier Gerard at Horton Heath. In the past they have run the Bugle at Twyford and the Fox in Fair Oak.
The Prince of Wales at Shirrell Heath is up for sale. The estate agent suggests that the pub could be suitable for other uses such as "day nursery, restaurant or offices", subject to planning consent.
Further south, the Crow's Nest at Bursledon has been demolished. Seven four-bedroom and three bedroom homes will be built on the site.
Moving to the New Forest, work is well under way on converting the Forest Heath Hotel to flats and a café. Across the road, the recently opened Silver Hind has hit problems after seeking planning permission for a change of use from "mixed use comprising restaurant with ancillary rooms" to a restaurant. New Forest planners have suggested that the application might need to be for a change of use to a pub.
Also running into planning problems are Greene King. Alterations were carried out at the Testwood in Totton without planning permission and a retrospective application was rejected. The owners have appealed against an enforcement order for the facilities, which included an outdoor dining area, to be removed.
In a similar dispute in the north west of the Forest, the owner of Butlers Bar and Grill , Fordingbridge, lost an appeal to keep to retain an outdoor drinking area
A little to the south, following the granting of planning permission to retain internal changes to the Royal Oak at North Gorley, permission has also been granted for an outdoor bar to replace an existing shelter.
Another Royal Oak , just over the border of our branch, at Downton, changed hands when new landlady Kathy Waters took over in June.
Milford on Sea
Moving south to the coast, Dorset brewers Hall and Woodhouse have purchased the Westover Hall Hotel at Milford on Sea. It has been renamed the Beach House Restaurant and Rooms . Badger Ales are on sale at the Grade II listed building.
The Filly Inn at Setley reopened at the end of June under new ownership following refurbishment. The emphasis is on locally sourced food, cider and beers.
The Waggon and Horses in Lymington reopened during the summer, having been closed for six months. Manager Tracy Field and her partner Alex Jones moved there from another Wadworth pub, the St James Tavern in Winchester. Due to open in time for Christmas is the controversial new Wetherspoon pub for Lymington, which will be named the Six Bells .
Regular readers will recall the lengthy battle that had to be fought to obtain planning permission and a licence for the Six Bells. Such battles are not unique in the Forest. The Burley Stores , which was converted from the village shop to a café, won permission to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises until 9pm every day. Despite a number of objections the on-licence was added to the existing off-licence. Manager Stephen Williams told the licensing committee that the intension was to serve alcohol at lunchtimes only.
The Bluebird café in Calshot has also won permission to serve alcohol. After more than 20 objections were received the licensing committee reduced the scope of the original application. Alcohol can now be consumed on the premises between midday and 9.30pm seven days a week. Live music is also permitted - on just one day a year - when the area is busy with people gathering to watch the fireworks at the end of Cowes Week.
Those travelling down to Calshot along the A326 cannot currently pop in for a drink at the Holbury . Following numerous closings and reopenings over the last few months owners Greene King have put the pub up for sale.
Further into the Forest, the owners of the Beaulieu Road Hotel have applied to build 10 new bedrooms having demolished three existing rooms.
Continuing on towards Brockenhurst, the owners of the Pig hotel applied for an extension to their drinks licence so that it covers more of the premises and is not restricted to the restaurant area.
Meanwhile, in Southampton, a new venture from the same company is taking shape. The Pig in the Wall is being constructed from the former Royal Standard (more recently Latimers) opposite the De Vere Hotel. The 12 room bed and breakfast accommodation will only be open to guests.
The Junction in St Denys reopened on Friday 7 September with an
opening night attendance that probably exceeded 200. Some of the wood panelled interior is now of a lighter hue
(there are rumours that the council's listed building department are not entirely happy with this) but we are
pleased to report that licensees Martin and Dawn Gentry are now offering customers a wider range of locally
brewed beers. Owners Greene King have taken the opportunity created by the fire and re-build to introduce to
Southampton their new 'Local Hero' concept - four locally brewed beers are offered alongside four Greene King
The Highfield also reopened in September after being shut for more than three months. The landlord is Kris Gardner, who also runs the nearby Drummond Arms .
While these venues remain open there is a lengthy list of Southampton pubs that are currently closed. While some
may reopen to serve pints in the future, the future of most looks bleak. The Castle in Midanbury
is closed and surrounded by fencing. The Plume of Feathers in St Mary Street is also closed. It
is for sale, de-licensed, for £225,000. The Crown in Shirley is closed and has been put up
for sale by owners Greene King for £550,000. Planning permission has been granted to demolish
the Lord Palmerston and replace it with five flats in a new three storey building. The
Bridge in St Denys has been flattened in preparation for the building of homes and the
Bulls Eye in Sholing has been converted into a Tesco store.
There have been name changes among the city's nightclub bars. Reflex in Lower Bannister Street is now Popworld and in Above Bar the (sometimes Square) Balloon is now Provenance . Almost opposite, the Greene King owned Old Fat Cat is now the Frog and Parrot .
A couple of city pubs have been celebrating anniversaries this year. The Humble Plumb in Bitterne celebrated 200 years as a pub in May. When it first opened it was known as the Commercial Inn. In August the Hinkler in Thornhill celebrated 50 years as a pub. Originally opened as the Star, earlier this year landlady Tracey Atwood had more reason to celebrate as the pub was named Marston's Community Pub of the Year.
Geoff Mercer, who has run Gleneagles in Hythe for 30 years, has decided to retire. When he first took over the pub was called the Jester. Geoff, with the help of his wife Sandy, has raised around £100,000 for charity during his time at the pub. We wish him a well-deserved retirement.
The end of September saw the publication of the sixth annual ' Cask Report. ' This yearly event, produced by national beer writer and broadcaster Pete Brown, and supported by research from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), the Independent Family Brewers of Britain (IFBB). CaskMarque and six national brewers gives a health check on the state of cask beer (real ale) within the country's pubs.
The report is principally aimed at publicans and their business prospects but there is much to interest the ordinary pubgoer as well. The report is available on-line at www.caskreport.co.uk and although it is essential reading to every licensee and is pleasant reading for CAMRA members.
It is well-known that, in parallel with the continuing permanent loss of pubs to closures, the actual volume of beer sold in the on-trade has been reducing year-on-year for over a decade and last year this continued by 3.5%. But cask ale reversed this trend for the first time with a real growth of 1.6%. As even more emphasis of its marketing potential, cask beer also finally overtook keg in total market share - rising steadily from 40% in the early 2000s to 51% now - 633 million pints!
In Pete's words: " This excellent performance speaks volumes for the increasing popularity of cask among consumers, as well as growing realisation among licensees that cask, as an 'only-in-the-pub' drink, can help them drive footfall and sales. Pubs that sell cask are less likely to close than non-cask stockists - as witness cask's increasing share of the declining pub market. "
Much of the report investigates the actual marketing of cask beers within the pub, addressing questions such as: how many handpumps are optimum? What should be the mix of micro-breweries and national breweries? Does strength matter? These questions are tackled in detail and although the answer to all is to some extent: "it depends." there are many pointers to strategies that will increase sales.
That the publican is constantly faced with many dilemmas is shown by the report's finding that there is an almost exact 50/50 split of cask drinkers who "usually stick to their favourite beers" and those who "actively seek out new beers" and, of these same drinkers, 78% "like to experiment with micro-brewery beers" while 75% also "like to see brands they know and trust!" Extracting solid marketing advice from such contradictory opinions is the task of the report.
A strongly drawn conclusion is that pubs should try to offer one or more well-known brands and one or more 'interesting' micro-brewery ales, perversely it also shows that in other than specialised 'cask champion' pubs having too many beers and changing them too often can actually diminish sales; the optimum balance is a delicate one.
In those pubs that consider themselves as cask beer specialists, the overwhelming factor driving customer choice
is the beer's style and flavour. And the largest input to the customer's choice, unquestionably, is
information . Volunteering taster samples is shown to be hugely beneficial to trade and chalk
boards or other displays listing the beers' characteristics also help to overcome customers' apprehension of
making a choice of beers they won't enjoy.
September 13th saw the publication of the 2013 Good Beer Guide , CAMRA's flagship annual guide book. This is the fortieth year of publication.
One particular 'unique selling point' of our guide, compared with other rival pub and drinks guides, is its exhaustive listing and description of all of the country's breweries.
This year's list has topped one thousand!
The Guide reports that 158 new breweries have opened in the last 12 months alone, a record-shattering number and the highest annual total in the Guide's 40 year history. Taking the total number of UK brewers in the Guide to 1009.
It is the first time since the 1930's that over 1000 breweries have been in commercial operation in the UK. This astounding figure is five times more breweries than there were in operation 30 years ago, four times more than there were 20 years ago, and more than twice as many as there were a decade ago! And this huge rate of increase since the low points of the '60s and '70s can be almost entirely put down to the renewed interest in decent beer engendered by CAMRA.
Obtainable in all major bookshops the guide can also be obtained directly from CAMRA: www.camra.org.uk/gbg and follow the link.
When asked what made the pub listings so unique Good Beer Guide editor, Roger Protz said: 'One of the most under-publicised aspects of the Guide is that it is the result of constant pub surveying by CAMRA's dedicated members over the course of a year, so in many ways this fortieth anniversary is testament to the tireless work of countless unpaid volunteers across the country who give up their time to champion great pubs, whether situated on a city centre high street, suburban street corner, or in a small hamlet. Everyone in the CAMRA Publications team thanks the members and we're sure they will keep up the good work for the next edition and the 39 after that!'
In addition to the conventional printed pocket book (and it needs a pretty big pocket these days) there are also now a plethora of electronic variations.
From this autumn the Guide will be available as an e-book in the Kindle and ePUB formats. Apart from the advantage of portability the e-book version is interactive, for example linking to Google Maps for navigation and giving web and e-mail links to the pubs. Check the CAMRA website for the availability date.
Also started last year and available now for the 2013 edition is a mobile app version (check out the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store). Various modes of use are offered including some subscription-free one-time use ones
Finally there are POI (points of interest) files for TomTom, Garmin and Navman sat-nav systems to help you find your way to the remotest country inn. So no more finding yourself going down an ever-narrowing muddy track into a farm-yard; or at least no more than with the average sat-nav led journey.
Apart from the country's 4,500 best pubs for beer lovers, this edition highlights seven very special pubs that have appeared in every edition since the first in 1974. They range from two in London's Belgravia (the Buckingham Arms and the Star Tavern ) a town pub in Liverpool (the Roscoe Head ) three village inns (the New Inn , Kilmington in Devon, the Star Inn , Netherton in Northumberland and the Queen's Head , Newton in Cambridgeshire) and finally our nearest, the remote and splendid Square and Compasses near Worth Matravers in Purbeck, Dorset.
This lovely old stone building has been in the same family, the Newmans, since 1907 and the current owner, Charlie Newman, says he has no intention of modernising the pub in any way. There is no bar - beer comes straight from the casks beyond a hatchway. The usual beer is Palmers Copper Ale and (perhaps beware) Charlie also makes his own cider. Make it a 2013 resolution to pay a visit.
On the occasion of this fortieth edition it is enlightening to glance back at the 1974 original - a slender 96 pages as opposed to the present 944 page tome. Even so it listed some 1500 pubs although there were virtually no descriptions, a three or four word phrase at best, no beer names and sometimes not even an address!
In the Southern Hampshire Branch area we were quite respectably represented by 13 entries but not a single one was west of the river Test - the New Forest was terra incognita. However, of the 13 listed, ten were selling draught mild ale, an unimaginable thing today. Only one of this baker's dozen is shown with a food symbol although nine others are shown as having 'snacks or sandwiches,' another reflection of the complete change in the pub trade over the four decades.
The brewery listing, just over 100 squeezed onto two pages, makes interesting, but foreboding, reading showing
the headlong rush to amalgamation that was in full swing amongst the many family/town brewers during the early
'70s. Some are dismissed with brutally succinct comments such as: 'a disaster' (Gibbs Mew of Salisbury) and:
'avoid at all costs' (Watney of Mortlake, London).
Built in the 1930's, together with her sister pubs, the Langley Tavern and the Target (Sholing), the Holbury enjoyed a reasonably busy start to life. Local farm workers no longer had to travel "all the way" to the Falcon Inn , at Fawley, to enjoy a glass of beer. Trade increased when the Second World War started and Army & RAF personnel were stationed at Calshot. Business prospered even more in the latter stages of the war as the Mulberry Harbour was built at Lepe and US troops arrived ready to take part in the D-Day landings.
It seemed that they had no sooner left, than it was decided to build the Standard Oil (Esso) refinery at Fawley. This brought in a lot of contractors to the area. Some of them rented rooms at the Holbury, others rented with local families, but all needed a place to drink. As the main gate to the then under construction refinery was right across the road, that's where they all went. So life was good for the Holbury, but the single two way road that went through the village was then very busy with construction traffic, and then later with new large tankers taking away the refined oil and petrol products, so a new two lane road was built to solve the problem but away from the pub.
The powers that be took this opportunity to close this main gate and open a new one plus a slip road at Hardley, behind which now sits the Forest Home pub. The second gate remained where it has always been, at the far end of Church Lane, very close to Fawley's twelfth century church.
To add to the Holbury's woes the construction of the Fawley Power station began, so another new pub, the Hampshire Yeoman was built. Construction workers only needed temporary accommodation, but the refinery and power station workers needed proper homes, so houses were built for them. This meant families, children and less money to spend on beer!
Landlords moved on, others took over, all thinking they would be the ones to bring back the 'good times' of this pub. One landlord hit on the idea of 'Fight Nights', showing boxing on a large screen. Unfortunately on some occasions customers failed to appreciate that this was a spectator rather than a participation event. Another had the great idea of turning the lounge bar into a Las Vegas casino, with roulette tables, poker, three card stud, horse racing, everything you would find in Vegas. Everything that is apart from the weather, the ambience, the thrill of Vegas, and the young girls in crop tops and short skirts on roller blades going round giving any one who is playing the tables free drinks.
In recent months it has been difficult to keep up with the changes at the Holbury. It closed in mid-May but reopened a month later. It was closed again at the end of June.
Finally, a landlady, with two teenage children, who really did want to make the Holbury into a 'nice pub' that couples would want to go into, arrived. But then the pub itself took a hand and decided it would have its say, the electricity became intermittent, then the water tank sprang a leak and a ceiling fell in. It was decided to survey the whole pub for any further faults and the coup de grace was administered when asbestos was found in the cellar!
So this once busy, lively pub has been shut again and has now finally been put up for sale by its owners Greene
As readers will have seen in " Pub News " in this and previous editions of Hop Press , there has been a spate of supermarkets and 'minimarkets' opening in former pubs. This is happening not just locally but right across the country.
Since April 2005 a pub can change into a café or restaurant, any ordinary shop, or a 'financial and professional services supplier' (that's things like estate agents and building societies) - but NOT a hot-food takeaway - without any need to involve the local planning department. Only any changes to the shop/pub frontage will need planning permission.
Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge, has proposed a 10 Minute Rule Bill to make planning consent necessary in these circumstances. Unfortunately, under our benighted parliamentary system the Bill has no realistic chance of becoming law but it has successfully highlighted the issues. CAMRA is currently gathering evidence of such changes across the country to support a campaign to get the law changed. Tesco, for example, have converted scores of closed pubs – in Bristol alone they already have three and are working on two more – yet when asked the company deny that they "have any strategy of targeting pubs" a sentiment needing a big pinch of salt!
Readers can see from the list below that in recent years Tesco is not the sole villain, all of the big supermarket chains have been driving this process. As mentioned elsewhere, the Aldi development in Winchester is not really part of this recent spate as Chimneys (once the Weeke Hotel) closed in 2004 and was demolished. The protracted planning process started not long afterwards but approval for the supermarket was eventually granted in 2009. In the years of controversy a large Waitrose has already been built on the garage site next door! Both "One Stop" and "Best One" are national chains. Because of this trend it is now often the case that when a pub closes the first thing that people expect might happen is that it will become a supermarket.
Shown here is a recent loss in Shirley, the imposing Anchor and Hope, now purveying groceries to the Co-op's customers. Even the pub sign has been pressed into use:
This short, circular walk, in central Hampshire, links two excellent pubs. The Woodman is in Lower Upham on the B2177 Fisher's Pond to Bishop's Waltham road. The Brushmakers Arms is in the isolated, bijou hamlet of Upham, about 1 ½ miles north-east of Lower Upham. The countryside hereabouts is mainly gentle, rolling chalk land , with surprisingly good views. Much of this walk is along very quiet tarmac lanes, and the footpaths used are generally good. Note that the Woodman does not serve food, but the Brushmakers definitely does. Even more vital to note is that both pubs close during weekday afternoons, the Woodman from 2.30 to 7.15 and the Brushmakers from 3.00 to 6.00. The weekends are better but there are still gaps.
The walk starts at The Woodman. The pub has a very good reputation for the quality of its beer and the range of its whisky selection. Excepting 2006, it has been in the Good Beer Guide continuously since 2000. The entry in the new 2013 edition is on page 187. The number 69 Winchester to Fareham bus service stops practically outside, although, sadly it does not run on Sundays or into the evenings. Beers on when visited were Palmers Best Bitter and Sharp's Doom Bar. A third beer is available over the weekends, to check, the pub's number is 01489 860270. Tony, the landlord is generally ready for a chat if he is not too busy.
On leaving the pub turn right then right again into Upham Street, past a pleasant mix of semi-rural houses. As the housing thins, look out for a belt of woodland on your right. Opposite Arbour Cottage on the left and just before the end of the wood, turn right on a good path through the wood. Immediately ahead is a strange stile leading into a large, unkempt field. Keep to the left hedge on a good path, soon to cross another complex stile. Turn left at the field corner along a tiny path heading for a bent steel gate. Next to the gate is another stile to cross, and a duck pond on the left. Turn right on a good tarmac track that immediately bends left, and then right. Follow the track to the corner of woodland, and keep on the track around the woodland. Stay on the track as it turns away from the wood to go almost arrow straight gently uphill between large open fields.
The track bends very slightly left by a copse on the left, and heads towards a rusty gate. At this gate go through another gate on the right, held shut by binder twine (what else?), onto an overgrown path. Where the path gets even more overgrown walkers have resorted to using the field margin, and it looks like a considerate farmer has restricted his ploughing for the walkers' benefit. At the end of the path/field, turn left onto a good small lane. Incidentally, The Upham Brewery (one of many micros springing up in Hampshire) is just a few yards to the right down this lane at Stakes Farm.
The lane curves gently uphill, giving good views of a long dry valley on the right. Trees now arch over the road, which enters a small chalk cutting. Note the fine but not quite vertical flint wall on the left, and an imposing tree house behind it. Suddenly you are at the edge of Upham. Turn left at the green, go past another duck pond, take the next right by Pond House and The Brushmakers Arms is immediately ahead.
The Brushmakers is an immediately appealing pub; it looks very cosy, hemmed in by houses on both sides and fronting onto the small lane. The interior is appealing and cosy too. Their website www.brushmakers-arms.co.uk will tell you more, the telephone number is: 01489 860231. Beers on when visited included London Pride, Oakleaf India Pale Ale, and, perhaps to be expected, Upham Stakes Bitter.
When it is time to leave, turn left up the narrow lane towards the top of the village. At another small triangular green turn right onto a road curving left. Very soon there are extensive views on the left to the west. Certainly parts of the New Forest are visible from here, and I am reasonably sure I could see the distinctive fields of the hillside near Pepperbox Hill which is only a few miles from Salisbury! Very soon the road starts to drop steeply, and about 50 yards downhill take a good path on the left with two signs. The path runs through a narrow belt of woodland, gently downhill, now with good views to the north of a steep dry valley.
At a fence ahead, turn right and go steeply down along the edge of the field. At the bottom of the steeper part of the slope (before the woodland edge ahead), turn left on a good path into the wood. After some time the path curves left and begins to climb, soon passing between two old chalk pits. Turn right at the path junction onto Monarch's Way, one of a few long-distance footpaths in the area; and immediately pass through a small gate. Go diagonally left downhill with the fence on your right, to another small gate at the woodland edge. Go through this thin belt of trees to cross a stile (one of the few damp parts of the walk). Now walk diagonally gently uphill to a stile in the corner of the field.
After the stile, turn left and walk along the field edge on a well-marked path for about 500 yards, keeping the line of trees on your left. Ahead you will soon see a cross hedge belonging to the cottage beyond. Go through the gap (with a gate) at the left end of the hedge onto an improving path, which soon joins the track from Sweet Briar Cottage. After a few gentle bends the track again improves into a good small lane by Dell House.
Stay with the lane where it bends sharply left, and just before it begins to curve left again, look for a small stile hidden in the hedge on your right. Cross the stile and bisect the angle of the hedge corner, to go towards a gate with a white notice on it. Go through the gate and keeping to the left follow the hedge up towards some modern housing. This field may get increasingly wet towards the top gate. There is a simple diversion in wet weather - see next paragraph. Go through the gate onto a short grassy track, then onto a short concrete drive which leads to Upham Street. Opposite you is your first footpath at the beginning of the walk, so all you need do now is turn right and go back down the lane to the Woodman.
Wet ground diversion: Ignore the hidden stile in the hedge and stay on the lane and continue up towards the start of Lower Upham. At the end of the lane (Pope's Lane) turn right very sharply into Upham Street. Finally, walk back through the village to the Woodman.
Once more I hope you find the beer, the pubs, the walk, the countryside and the gentle, comfortable feel of the area all to your liking.
Maps: Maps are not absolutely necessary for this walk, my sketch map should help. However I always feel happier with a map; the relevant OS 1:25,000 Map is Explorer 119 Meon Valley
Seasons: Another walk for all seasons. In Summer the trees will not be overbearing, because much of the walk is in the open. The going underfoot is generally very good, so Winter could be a good time. Autumn is upon us, and the Autumn colours may well make this the best time of all.
Distances: The outward walk is less than 1¾ miles, the walk back about 2½ miles.
QUETZALCOATL (printable pdf version here 33KB download)
Prizes to the first two correct entries drawn. Closing date: 31st December 2012.
The Editor, Hop Press, 1 Surbiton Road, Eastleigh, Hants. SO50 4HY
Issue 72 (May 2012) Solution & Winners
An excellent entry for this ‘butterfly themed’ puzzle, 27 competitors, including a number of new solvers whose names I did not recognise. Unfortunately there was a higher than usual failure rate – six entries had errors, mostly slight spelling slips but two were caught out by 6 across (ARGUS) becoming ARGOS a sad Freudian-like slip with commerce replacing the classics in the subconscious!
There is an alarming influx of foreigners coming into the country; undermining our native population, even driving them to extinction in places. The traditional English hop varieties are in trouble! Dr. Peter Darby, research director of the National Hop Collection, at Faversham in Kent, believes that our indigenous industry is: "on the cusp." Brewers are looking to produce novel beers with flavours both distinctive and memorable. To this end, increasingly, they are importing hops from foreign climates - climates that can produce characteristics that our mild, oceanic weather cannot impart.
Hops serve three quite different purposes in the brewing process: firstly to provide aroma - the floral, spicy elements, secondly to provide bitterness in the flavour and thirdly they act as a surprisingly effective preservative - anti bacterial and anti-fungal.
Aroma chiefly comes from very complex essential oils in the hop, known as lupulones, and bitterness from simpler chemicals called alpha acids.
Alpha acid content is greatly enhanced by hot, dry climates so both the West Coast of America and, in the Southern hemisphere, New Zealand, have become major hop providers to the UK. These varieties have other flavour character differences from the classic home strains such as Goldings - one is a more pronounced citric element, especially the grapefruit flavour - there are some modern ales, perhaps hopped with an American Chinook or Cascade variety which, if tasted with a blindfold, at first seem to be straight grapefruit juice!
At the other end of the alpha acid spectrum, the rise of bland lagers has resulted in the bigger brewers requiring hops with a lower bittering ability than English varieties provide. In this instance the Bohemian Saaz is ideal with only 25% of the alpha acid of a typical Kent grown plant. But, as with the New World styles, the huge import trade in Saaz from the Czech Republic and from Bavaria has reduced acreage drastically in this country.
In 1872 Britain sustained 72000 acres of hop garden, by 2011 this had reduced to just 2500 acres - barely enough
to make it viable to keep the infrastructure of specialised picking machinery and oast-house drying businesses in
being. This attrition continues, hence Dr Darby's very real concern that the industry may suddenly sputter out
like a failing candle.
Hop Press Issue number 73. October 2012
Editor: Pat O'Neill
© CAMRA Ltd. 2012
|Printer friendly version (reduced menus & clutter)|