Thursday, 22 August 2013

Matlock Bath, Derbyshire

It's holiday time!

For some years now, Mrs BB has been pestering me to go to Chatsworth (don't worry, she doesn't read this), so finding a nearby town with a railway station was a no brainer.
Matlock Bath is a classic Victorian resort town, with a surprising amount of fish and chip shops for a town nearly 100 miles away from the coast.
Whilst a certain amount of this Victorian splendour has been retained along the banks of the Derwent, the same can't be said of Matlock Bath's railway station.

The nice buildings still stand on the one platform left, but don't serve a railway purpose. In fact there's little to suggest there were ever any more than one platform as the former up platform has become a footpath leading to the Heights of Abraham cable cars (good fun). This is accessible via the foot crossing at the southern end of the platform.

There's an approximately hourly branch shuttle Monday to Saturday, originating from either Derby or Nottingham depending on the time of day, and terminating at Matlock. At the time of writing, Nottingham is in the middle of a monster re-signalling scheme so things are obviously subject to change. Sunday sees a reduced service in operation.

As you come out of the station and cross the River Derwent, you'll instantly see the two pubs we'll be visiting.
First up, the Midland.

Now I know what you're thinking, pubs in tourist centric areas sometimes leave the beer drinker a little disappointed. Well rest assured, the Midland will satisfy your lust for ale as well as feed you and the family. The riverside beer garden is great on a sunny day.

Inside, there's the feel of a 'proper' pub. I'm not really sure what that is, but Mrs BB agreed. The walls have framed railwayana in the form of old timetables and publicity literature from the age of the Midland Railway. The staff are friendly and know the beer well, which is reflected in the quality.

On the bar for my visit were beers from Shepherd Neame, Salamander, Robinsons and local brewery Peak Ales. 
I'd heard a lot of noise about the Robinsons Trooper, so I went with that to start. It's brewed in partnership with Iron Maiden, hence the pump clip. At 4.8% it's a good quality premium beer, with nicely balanced citrus and malt flavours. Something I'd certainly recommend. 
I finished with a Peak Ales Swift Nick, a nice 3.8% bitter which would be great for a session.

Coming out of the Midland and crossing the road we find our second pub, the County and Station. As with the Midland the County and Station caters for tourists, but again there's something for the beer drinker.

Being the thoughtful type, I suggested to Mrs BB that we only stopped for a swift one, so I had a pint of Cumberland Ale from Jennings in the Lake District, who also brew the rather nice Sneck Lifter. The Cumberland Ale was in good condition and nice and refreshing after a day treating Mrs BB to a preserved railway. Also on the bar was Mastons Pedigree.

There's plenty to do in the Peak District, and some fine pubs to visit.


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