A Coast to Coast walk Beer Guide


A request, found written on a piece of wood in a peat bog at Vindolanda Roman Fort reads: "The comrades have no beer, which I ask that you order to be sent."

The Romans arrived in Britain they found us drinking beer and soon got a taste for it themselves.  If there was a shortage there would be mutiny. It didn't have any hops in it, so didn't travel well or keep long. I don't suppose it needed to...

Two thousand years later and we are still drinking beer in the North of England. Whether it's from a long established brewery or one of the fashionable micro-breweries that have just popped up, there is some fantastic beer around.

At the end of a day walking the Coast to Coast you deserve a drink. Mine's a beer.
On a recent trip I tried to drink a different local beer each night.

Alf Wainwright wasn't a big drinker himself. He'd sometimes have a half at the end of a day of Lakeland fell walking, but more often he'd prefer a cup of tea. His Pennine Way guide promised a free beer if you made it to the Border Hotel in Kirk Yetholm (which cost him thousands). 

All together it's a Coast to Coast walk but each day it is a Pub to Pub walk. So here are the beers I came across on my walk.

St Bees
Wolf Warrior
Brewed by Stringers
ABV 3.5%
Pete's rating: ****

A nice blonde to start things off. I drank mine in the sunshine on the benches at the front of  the Manor Inn thinking about the great walking adventure to come. The name refers to the translation of Ulverston, where the brewery is based. It derives from the Old Norse "Ulfarr" meaning "Wolf Warrior".

Ennerdale Bridge
Keswick Bitter
Keswick Brewing Company
ABV 3.7%
Pete's rating: ***

Drank this in the Shepherd's Arms. Nice brown colour, smooth and easy to drink!

Ennerdale Brewery Blonde
Ennerdale Brewery
ABV 3.8%
Pete's rating: ***

A bit of a fruity blonde. After walking the length of Ennerdale, it seemed appropriate to have one of these.

Ullswater Blonde
Tirril Brewery
ABV 3.8%
Pete's rating: ****

Another blonde and another refreshing brew. The "Lakeland water" doesn't come out of Ullswater as the lake was prevented from becoming a reservoir in the sixties.  Ullswater is probably named after the Norse god Ulfr which also means Wolf (as above).

Cocker Hoop
ABV 4.2%
Pete's rating: ****

A golden ale, bit stronger than the other beers so far and you can really taste the hops. Cocker Hoop is named after the old custom of removing the cock (spigot) from a barrel and resting it on the hoop of the cask.
Cocker Hoop 4.6% ABV (4.2% ABV in 500ml bottle) clip

Red Barn
ABV 4.4%
Pete's rating: *****

Absolutely delicious. Or maybe it was the 10 hours I spent on my feet walking over Kidsty Pike, beside Haweswater and across to Shap. Either way the best beer so far when I tried it in the Kings Arms.

Kirkby Stephen
Black Sheep Best Bitter
Black Sheep Brewery
ABV 3.8%
Golden Bitter
Pete's rating: *****

You know you're near Yorkshire when there's Black Sheep on tap. A five star classic in my opinion and, like with Guinness in Ireland, Black Sheep tastes better in Yorkshire...

A black sheep goes into a bar. The barman says, "We've got a beer named after you!" The Black Sheep says, "Oh! I'll have a pint of Tony then please!"

Golden Sheep
Black Sheep Brewery
ABV 3.9%
Pete's rating: ****

Only beer on tap in the Keld Lodge was Black Sheep so I had to wait to the next day, at lunch in the Kings Head, to get another different brew. And the Black Sheep brewery have branched out and made a few other brews. This golden ale one is very easily quaffable. Scumptious!

Timothy Taylor Landlord
Timothy Taylor Brewery
ABV 4.3%
Pale ale
Pete's rating: *****

The other Yorkshire classic. The Ship Inn was close to the B&B.  Talking to the Landlord he told us he still operates as a profitable wet pub (meaning no food is served). The key, he said, is good beer.
Handpull Landlord
Inglby Cross
Wall's Brewery
ABV 3.8%
Pale Ale
Pete's rating: ***

Stood at the bar in the Bluebell Inn this almost luminous lime green pump clip catches your eye. Wall's Brewery are not far away in Northallerton. But although drinkable enough, it didn't make the ground shake for me...

Blakey Ridge
Theakston's Best Bitter
ABV 3.8%
Light brown Bitter
Pete's rating: ****

The Lion Inn is an old pub. It's easy to imagine miners walking in along the same track as us after a hard day mining and coming in here for a beer. The building has been here since about the 1550s. In about 1827 Robert Theakston started brewing, in North Yorkshire, and one of his first brews will have been a bitter.  A few years later Ironstone was found in the Cleveland Hills and massive mining and quarrying began. This led to the rapid growth of nearby Middlesbourgh. And it's been a gritty, industrial, ugly place ever since. Blakey ridge on the other hand is a beautiful wide open heather moor.    In the Lion Inn, to go with your beer, you'll get large portions of no nonsense food served with caustic Yorkshire wit.

A pint of Best Bitter
Strong Arm
ABV 4.0%
Pete's rating: *****

Another five stars. But then I'm biased towards the ruby ones... Camerons are another longstanding North East brewery, based in Hartlepool and established in 1863. Strongarm,  a terrific beer, a great name and a nice strong red dragon on the front. I drank mine in the sunshine outside the Station Tavern watching a steam train. What more could a man want?

Robin Hood's Bay
Thwaites Brewery
ABV 4.1%
Golden Ale
Pete's rating: ****

AW had spent thousands on the bar tab at the Border Hotel for Pennine Way completers. He finishes the Coast to Coast book by saying "buy your own beer, I'm skint!".  And it seems fitting to buy a Wainwright. Thwaites are cashing in on the Wainwright fans, and they are based in Blackburn, Wainwright's home town.  But the beer, although pleasant and drinkable enough, isn't quite as good as it could be. Maybe it's because it's traveled a bit too far. Never mind that though, we've just walked across England! Get another in...

I offer guided walks and walking holidays in Northumberland, the Pennines, the Lake District, Scotland and further afield.

I'm always keen for outdoor adventures to help people learn the skills to explore! My particular focus is mountain skills such as navigating with a map and compass and wild camping for expeditions.

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