For those who don't know, Elsecar (pronounced 'Elsica') is situated a few miles south of Barnsley and can be reached via the rail service that runs between Huddersfield and Sheffield, or alternatively Leeds-Sheffield trains pass through. Why go? Well, there are a couple of pubs in the Good Beer Guide, but there is also a Heritage Centre there as well. All around the village, as befits a former pit village which also produced steel, there are plenty of reminders of its industrial past.
I caught the train at Huddersfield, and after passing through the suburbs of Lockwood and Berry Brow, the train soon hits some of the attractive and somewhat underrated countryside to the south of Huddersfield. Hidden valleys appear, the odd attractive property, wooded slopes. At one point the train has to stop to give right of way to an oncoming one as the line becomes single-track. Huge bridges, and tiny stations dot the line so the train stops regularly to drop off and pick up, with Barnsley the only big town en route. 10 minutes past there, and about an hour after setting off, the train pulls into Elsecar.
I alighted, not sure quite which way to go, so good old Google Maps was put to use. Fortunately I was able to work out which way to go quite quickly, so I was able to switch off and preserve my battery. Basically I needed to turn right and head down the hill from the station. I passed a pub called the Fitzwilliam, an old guy walking up the hill bade me hello in true friendly village-style, I passed a pet shop on a corner, and then spotted the first pub on my list, The Crown, a solid-looking stone-built pub set slightly back from the road.
|The Crown: the embodiment of a friendly village local|
The CAMRA app said it was about 6 minutes walk to my next scheduled point of interest, the most un-South Yorkshire-sounding Maison du Biere. I walked down the hill passing a mix of old and new housing, with one or two points of interest. A classic old local garage here, a restored miner's hostel there, interspersed with several pubs. I was enjoying the feel of the place.
|Classic local garage and cars|
|Elsecar Heritage Centre|
|A glass of beer, Maison du Biere|
But not before visiting the Market. I had spotted this traditional-looking pub on my way down to the Heritage Centre, and as I went out through the main entrance it was just across the road. I walked in to a heaving drinking corridor. I squeezed into a tiny room to the left, which was rammed. A guy got up from his perch beside the bar to let me through to get served. A friendly girl asked me what I would like. I pointed to the nearest pump clip and ordered a half. It was Acorn Barnsley Gold, reasonably priced at under £3 a pint. I retreated back to the corridor, and squeezed through to see if there was any space in any of the other rooms of what was a deceptively large pub. There wasn't, so I re-traced my steps, and found a spot near the door. I looked around. There was a real mix of people: lads out for a few beers, returning shoppers laden with bags from the emporia of Sheffield and Leeds, older guys out for a tea time pint. A couple of kids came in to see their dad who was having a laugh with his mates. The beer was good. A tray half full of sandwiches was ferried from one room to another. The atmosphere was tremendous; smiley, happy people enjoying themselves. It was that infectious I felt myself smile at one point. Sadly, I had to make tracks....
|The Market...another cracking, friendly pub....|
And she may well do. I'd had a brilliant afternoon. Great pubs, decent, good-value beers, friendly people, and I didn't really get chance to have a proper look around, so I will have to go back soon. I can highly recommend a visit, I am sure that like me you will be enchanted by Elsecar....
|Former miners' hostel, Elsecar....|