The Town on the Hill

A spell of particularly clement weather during a recent trip home to visit family offered the perfect opportunity to sample some of the pubs under the remit of the East Lancashire branch of CAMRA. The trains weren’t running for some reason so we caught the rail-replacement bus to Colne at the end of the East Lancashire Line. Colne is known locally as “The Town on the Hill” and with good reason, but fortunately there were plenty of pub stops so we never had to walk too far at any one time!

First off, we called in the Crown Hotel just outside the railway station. The pub usually offers four real ales, including ones from local breweries such as Moorhouse’s, but on the day only John Smith’s Cask (3.8%) was available, which was a bit of a shame. Nevertheless, the beer was well-kept and palatable enough. The next stop was just across the road at the Venue, where I tried Worsthorne Packhorse (3.7%), a traditional English bitter brewed just down the road near Burnley.

Our third stop of the afternoon took us to the newly opened Tubbs of Colne. When I was growing up this had always been a furniture shop, so it was something of a surprise to see the place in its new guise and we felt compelled to try it out. I was pleased to see three cask ales available and opted for Bowland Brewery’s Bowland Gold (3.8%), a hoppy and zesty golden bitter that was very refreshing on a summer’s day.

We deviated from the main road briefly for a stop at the Cask ‘n’ Keg micropub, which despite showcasing a fantastic selection of all styles of beer was surprisingly quiet for a Saturday afternoon. Here I sampled another locally brewed ale, Reedley Hallows Griffin IPA (4.7%), a really well-balanced IPA and my favourite beer of the day. I would definitely recommend this pub if you are ever in the area.

Back on to the main road, we headed to the Wallace Hartley, a Wetherspoon’s pub named after the bandleader of the Titanic who hailed from Colne. The craft cider festival was taking place so I tried a half of Mr Whitehead’s Toffee Apple Cider (4.0%), which was drinkable but a little too sweet for my taste. My sojourn into cider territory was short-lived and before leaving I ordered a pint of Peerless Tectonic (6.2%), a dry-hopped golden ale with an intense, almost peaty, flavour that I couldn’t decide whether I loved or hated.

Our final pub of the afternoon was the Duke of Lancaster at the top of the hill, where I tasted Moorhouse’s White Witch (3.9%) and Lancaster Blonde (4.0%) before heading home. One thing I did notice on the day was that the drinkers of East Lancashire seem to have a penchant for golden ales, which were available in nearly every pub we visited and were often the only option. Overall, Colne proved an enjoyable day out and it was encouraging to see local breweries featuring so prominently on the pumps.

Dominic Nelson

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