An early autumn afternoon's walk around the wonderful city of York, taking in a few classic pubs along the way....
The sun was shining as I caught the train from Brighouse. Just over an hour later, after a quick change in Leeds, I was stepping off the train in York. I heard a muffled "Hello Chris" from behind me, and the masked figure was one of the girls who works at The Grayston in Halifax, who was off to see her friend who had just started at the university. And then, a few minutes later when I went into the York Tap, a guy came over to have a natter with me who I know from the Stalybridge Buffet Bar. Small world! I ordered a pint of Jarl from what appeared to be a depleted range of cask ales, but sadly it was simply not up to scratch. It barely scraped an NBSS rating of 2.5, certainly not a worthy representation of one of the country's finest cask ales. And despite the beautiful surroundings, with only a few customers scattered around, the York Tap was on this occasion a rather soulless place.
I wandered towards the city centre, having a short stop on a park bench to consume a pork pie which I had brought from home. I walked over the River Ouse across the Lendal Bridge and took in the view of York Minster, the sight of which never fails to impress...
|Not a Wetherspoons conversion|
Then it was back over the river, and a quick half at the Maltings, which is set slightly below the main road as it climbs up to the bridge. Probably because of its proximity to the station, the Maltings is always pretty busy and today was no exception, the air thick with West Riding accents. Once I had been shown to one of the few empty tables to be had, I ordered a half of Yorkshire Sparkle from Treboom, who are based in the nearby North Yorkshire village of Shipston-by-Beningbrough, and whose beers I have only ever come across here. The beer was pleasant enough, if a bit thin, and was another NBSS 2.5, but the pub is a decent place to pop in to if time permits on your way to or from the station.
|Hard to miss: The Maltings|
I was in a need of some better beer, and fortunately I was amply rewarded at my next stopping point. I had decided to have a wander away from the heart of the city centre, and so I made my way across Micklegate and turned down the narrow St Martin's Lane, where along the cobbles The Ackhorne lay in wait. It looked familiar and the pub sign reminded me of another York pub I had been in many years ago based down a similar-looking narrow lane. Once the track and trace was dealt with and as my pint was being pulled by the friendly girl behind the bar, I asked the question: "Did you used to be called the Acorn?" Yes" she replied. Apparently it had been changed in the 1990's to reflect the old English spelling, which is still pronounced as 'acorn'. I took my pint of Rudgate Jorvik and plonked down at a small table, in the far section of the narrow bar. A fairly eclectic mix of generally older customers were dotted around at the tables, the hum of conversation accompanied by classic oldies on the sound system. A friendly Churchillian bulldog wandered over and took an interest in my bag, possibly picking up the residual aroma of my earlier pork pie. Satisfied there was nothing of interest, he shuffled over and lay down below the chair opposite. Eyes closing, he began to snore as Roger Daltrey belted out 'My Generation' one more time, one occasionally flickering open slightly at the singer's more exaggerated yelps. The beer, meanwhile, was superb, easily a 3.5; refreshing, crisp, with a fruity finish and a nicely balanced hoppiness. The Ackhorne, with its friendly ambience, classic dark wood interior, and excellent beer just begs you to stop and have another pint, but unfortunately I didn't have the time on this occasion.
|Gallery from The Ackhorne|
|The Swan, Bishopgate Street, York|
|The Blue Bell: another classic York pub|
|Simon is drinking a Farmer's Blonde|