Arriving at the festival at Wigan Central around 12:15, the festival bar had been set up in the adjoining arch to the main bar. The pub is in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide 2017 and is owed by Prospect Brewery. Outdoor seating was also available at the front and the pub was very light and airy. Beers sampled were from Chapter, Manchester Brewing Co, Vibrant Forest, Abstract Jungle, Shiny and Northern Monk. I also tried a very distinctive and opaque Cucumber and Juniper Saison keg beer (version 01/03) from Brew By Numbers Brewery. After a pleasant stay here a short walk took me to the Tap ‘n’ Barrel micro-style bar (GBG 2017 listed), a long and narrow pub with a pleasant beer garden out back. Five Martland Mill beers were available and I sampled the D-Day Dodger (4.1%) and a very smooth and tasty Arctic Convoy (4.5%), a chocolate oatmeal stout. A quick walk back to the bus station to enquire about buses back to Leigh found the information centre just closing at 4pm – obviously people don’t stay out late in Wigan! Anyway, a bus was found and half an hour later we arrived back in Leigh. A short walk to the White Lion (GBG 2017 listed), a cracking Allgates Brewery traditional boozer that I have reported on before. Here I sampled their own Industrious Bee (3.8%) and Green Mill Gold (3.6%). Back now in to Manchester via the Guided Busway again. Only one pub visited here and that was the Café Beermoth near to the Arndale Centre. Being a Friday evening, the place was vibrant and a hive of activity but the service was very efficient. Beers here (both cask and keg) are served through a wall behind the bar, with the cellar also visible. Two Torrside cask ales were sampled – Awaiting Collection (4.0%) and Yellow Peak (4.2%) – very enjoyable. Back to Piccadilly station and the train home, but not before disembarking at Stockport. Just at the top of the station approach (Edgeley entrance) is the Olde Vic (GBG 2017 listed). Now a community-run pub, it looked closed as I approached it with no visible lights on, door closed and a boarded-up window. However, on entering there was the usual cheery hello and a quick half of Raw JR Best Bitter (4.2%), before catching the next train back to Sheffield. On the way for my bus home I stopped in the Old Queen’s Head in the hope of sampling one of Thwaites seasonal/monthly specials which are often available here, but not today. The pub now has six hand pumps, three were dispensing regular offerings from Thwaites and three were guest ales. The one I tried was Leeds Brewery Yorkshire Gold (4.0%). It would be a shame if the guest beers have replaced the more unusual beers brewed by Thwaites. Andrew Morton
Today’s main intention was to visit Wigan Central, located in two arches beneath Wigan North Western rail station. Arriving in Manchester my plan was to use the buses, rather than the trains, to get around so I purchased a Greater Manchester Any Bus Day Rover ticket, which is available from any bus driver, for £5.60. The first leg of the journey was to take the First Bus service V1/V2 via both the East Lancs Road with its designated bus lanes and the Guided Busway to Atherton and then on to Leigh. Once there another bus was required to get to Wigan. Not the quickest journey to Wigan, but still pleasant enough.