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The Best Thing about the B4116

One of my favourite pubs is in the Midlands, the Griffin at Shustoke, in Warwickshire.

Now Warwickshire may not be the first place us Northerners think of when searching for good pubs, but in my experience from towns like Rugby and Leamington to North Cotswold villages such as Lower Brailes and Shipston-on-Stour there are some gems in the county of the bear and staff.

The Griffin is in the north of the county, in attractive rolling countryside between Atherstone and Coleshill. I first came across it many years ago, when, stuck in slow-moving traffic on the M42, I sought an alternative route to get to the NEC. In those pre-satnav days it was a case of searching on the map and so it was that I spotted a twisting route off the A5 which came out at Coleshill, within a whisker of my destination.

I headed down the A5 for a couple of miles and then headed off up the interestingly-named Boot Hill through the former mining village of Baddesley Ensor, then through Grendon and wooded countryside to the junction with the B4116. Heading towards Coleshill, I was forced to drive through large numbers of seemingly oblivious(some fatally so) pheasants. Crossing the B4114 at Furnace End, I drove on through more pleasant countryside and came across an attractive-looking olde-worlde pub on a tight bend on a hill near a church. I couldn't stop, but made a mental note to re-visit if I got chance in the future.

I got to Coleshill a few minutes later and not long after I was at the NEC, and very pleased that not only had I beaten the near-stationary traffic on the M42 but that I'd also found a pretty good alternative route which I have continued to use to this day!

When I finally did get to the Griffin I was not disappointed. After a morning meeting in Birmingham I thought I'd try it for lunch. From the car park the views stretched down the hill and across fields to Shustoke reservoir with the towers and sprawl of Birmingham in the distance. 

Clicking open the wooden door, I entered a traditional multi-roomed, wooden-beamed country pub.

Loads of corners, inglenook fireplaces, stoves, handpulls, eggs for sale on the bar, happy people eating and drinking. I ordered a pint of ale - not sure after 15 or more years what it was - but I do remember the sandwich! Thought I'd have a light lunch, but what turned up put paid to that! A groaning plate with thick local ham and cheese in doorstep bread with pickle! I headed back up North, back to the M42, avoiding the pheasants as best I could on the B4116.

Many times I have headed back over the years, enjoying the beer, the atmosphere and the timeless quality of the place. It hasn't changed. I went in yesterday, making a detour from our trip to Nuneaton to watch Halifax Town. Same as ever, the beer spot on (the Holden's Black Country Mild was the best pint I'd had for months), friendly faces behind the bar, happy people in all the nooks and crannies, eating, drinking, reading the paper, chatting, eggs and local sausages for sale. The lads all enjoyed it as they had done before!

So what is it I like so much about the Griffin? I think it's the fact I have been going there for years and it's never any different. You're made to feel welcome whether you're a football supporter from Halifax, a farmer from Huxley, or a joiner from Atherstone. It's a home from home in a different part of the country. It's secluded yet accessible, busy yet intimate. It's like my archetypal view of a traditional English pub and I would recommend a visit. You will not be disappointed.

Oh, and the football, you ask? We beat Nuneaton 1-0....


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