Pub Walks: Leeds-Liverpool Canal, Leeds to Saltaire
Feeling quite unfit and not a little stressed, it was good to take a couple of days off last week and go for some long walks. One of the benefits of living in Yorkshire being able to walk long distances relatively easily along canals, where there tends to be interesting scenery, history, wildlife and, of course, pubs! It’s all very well climbing Ben bloody Nevis, but is there a pub up there for a self-congratulatory pint? If so, it’s not in the Good Beer Guide.
On Tuesday morning I set off on a grey morning from my house in Moortown intending to walk the 14 or so miles to Saltaire. I walked through Meanwood and Headingley to join the Leeds-Liverpool canal near Kirkstall Abbey, a few miles from its start. A couple of miles further on I met the first pub, The Abbey Inn at Newlay. Unfortunately the Abbey wasn’t open yet so I went on. I do like the Abbey: it’s a good honest pub with anaglypta on the wall, good local beers and enormous portions of food.
A little while further along the canal I came to Rodley, where I decided to stop for my first drink. Rodley has two GBG pubs opposite each other: The Rodley Barge and The Owl. I decided upon the Barge due to its proximity to the canal, and had a nice half of something pale and sessionable called Ale Gate by the Oldershaw Brewery in Grantham along with a packet of Brannigans.
Having stopped only for about ten minutes or so, I pressed on along the canal for the remaining eight miles to Saltaire. I passed the Saltaire Brewery, which would seem to me to be strictly based in Shipley rather than Saltaire itself, before leaving the canalside at Salts Mill.
I thought I’d give The Boathouse a try, close as it is to the canal. I immediately felt a bit out of place in the shiny wine bar surroundings in my boots and mud-flecked jeans. However there was a reasonable beer selection (albeit more quantity than variation, really: Black Sheep; Golden Sheep; Tether Blonde; Saltaire Blonde; Old Peculier) so I ordered a half of Saltaire Blonde. It had a slightly lemony soapy smell and an alright mouthfeel but not enough taste.
I walked up Victoria Road, past Victoria Hall (venue for last weekend’s Bradford Beer Festival) and around the corner to Fanny’s Ale House. Attempting to give the impression of being much older than it actually is (the pub only opened in 1997, although the building is of course older), Fanny’s is nonetheless a nice-looking, welcoming pub with open fires and similar.
It had a fairly wide selection of beers on, including a couple of Timothy Taylors beers and Rooster’s Yankee. However, adopting what is increasingly a ticker’s attitude to new beers, I ordered a Salamander Dr Awkward. This was supposed to be pale and hoppy. There was a general lack of aroma that carried through to a disappointingly weak watery taste.
Bored by pale session beers with no oomph, I then went for the terribly-named Fernandes Double Decker Pecker at 6.5%. This smelled bitter, citrussy, hoppy and light. It tasted unapologetically bitter in a dull, slightly gritty and caustic way, with little or no sweetness or other tastes to balance it out. I thought it was interesting but I didn’t like it that much, on the first attempt anyway.
Regardless of the two beers I tried (as noted, there were good beers on which I knew I liked), Fanny’s is a great pub with a good selection and well worth a visit if you’re in Saltaire. It was even worth walking 14 miles for.