Transpennine Real Ale Trail
If you’re looking for a weekend away with some friends, or maybe an alternative stag do, we think you might be interested in the Transpennine Real Ale Trail. Located in the picturesque setting of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Pennines, the Real Ale Trail is a unique voyage to the best ales and beers that the North has to offer – all made possible through the novelty of a train journey. At each station between Batley in Yorkshire and Stalybridge just outside Manchester, within a stone’s throw you’ll find a great character-filled pub with excellent ales.
Chances are you won’t find the time to go to every one of these pubs – they won’t stay open until the early mornings, annoyingly – but we checked it out (because we’re nice like that) and here’s our rough guide to each stop and what you can expect from the drinking establishments.
Stalybridge – The Station Buffet Bar
This will either be the beginning of your Ale Trail or the final stop depending on where you want to end up. Only a 10 minute train journey to Manchester, the Stalybridge Buffet Bar is literally right on the platform. The bar itself has one of the best selection of beers and ciders on the Ale Trail, whilst the food is also excellent and great value for money. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable and there’s a sizeable beer garden out back. The only issue is the pub itself is relatively small, and depending on the time of day/the weather, it can get extremely cramped. This is still an essential stop of your crawl though.
Mossley – The Britannia
Mossley is probably the one stop on the journey you can afford to miss out on. Obviously we can’t suggest you do miss out, otherwise your Real Ale Trail won’t be fully complete. If you do decide to grab a swift one, The Britannia is your best bet. The pub itself is a tad dated and there’s not much selection. There’s also no garden and the food is basic. But the staff are friendly, it’s never too busy and the pool table is only 50p. A quick pint here is worthwhile.
Greenfield – The Railway
The Railway in Greenfield is an essential stop on your crawl. Located on the road adjacent to the station, The Railway offers some stunning views of the Pennines. The pub is big and always well staffed so you’re never struggling to get to the bar. There are spacious seating areas and two pool tables, as well as good local ales. There’s no food and the decor makes the place feel a little dank. But there is live music performed pretty much every weekend and it’s one of the better atmospheres on the trail.
Marsden – The Riverhead
At Marsden, ignore The Railway pub which is right infront of you as you come out of the station. The pub is extremely dated and doesn’t have much in the way of character. Instead, walk down the hill into the centre of Marsden and go to The Riverhead. Marsden is probably the most idyllic stop on the Real Ale Trail with stunning scenery and the Butterley Reservoir running right through the centre. The Riverhead is located directly on the river (funnily enough) and has plenty of seating next to it. On a hot day, you can dabble your feet in the river with a cold pint next to you. The pub itself is contemporary and has an extensive and ever-changing beer and ale menu. It, rather brilliantly, brews its own ales in the cellar too. The food is also the best we’ve found on the route. It’s a tad more pricey than say the Stalybridge Buffet Bar, but the quality is undeniable. As its located half way through your journey, we highly recommend eating here. The Riverhead is everything great about the Real Ale Trail – good food, great local ale and great scenery.
Slaithwaite – The Commercial
The Commercial is located in the centre of the village down the hill and is an excellent local village pub. You can find all the usual ales you’d want in the Pennines as well as £2-a-pints from the local brewery, Empire Brewing. Hot and cold pies are served at the weekends and there is sport shown in the rear snug of the pub. It doesn’t have the great views but there’s always a cracking vibe especially in the evening where the locals join and have been known to create a make shift dancefloor.
Huddersfield – King’s Head
There are two pubs located within the listed station buildings at Huddersfield. The Head of Steam and the King’s Head. We’d recommend the King’s Head which is a little brighter and offers a better selection of real ales and lagers. There’s also a lot more character to the place and it shows off Huddersfield’s Grade I listed station in all its glory.
Mirfield – The Navigation
The Navigation Tavern is a must stop on the Real Ale Trail. It’s located 50 yards from Mirfield station and has the best selection of beers, ales and ciders on the journey, and has recently been named an Ambassador of Theakston’s real ales. The pub sits on the side of a canal with a large beer garden overlooking. The pub has everything you would need with darts, pool, Sky TV and even some accommodation. The beer garden alone makes this one of the essential stops.
Dewsbury – The West Riding
The West Riding is located in the old waiting rooms of Dewsbury station. The Italianate/Tudor style is unusual but it’s packed full of character and is perfect for a quick stop given its immediate proximity.
Batley – The Cellar Bar
The Cellar Bar will complete or start your journey. If you want our advice, we recommend ending up here. Mainly due to the live music and jam sessions that take place here every weekend on either a Friday or a Saturday. The place can be buzzing and has a thorough selection of ales and was featured in CAMRA’s good beer guide in 2010, 2011 and 2012. All of this contained in the Grade II listed building. Not a bad way to end/start your journey.
Of course, if you’re going with a stag party and fancy a club or three, Leeds and Manchester bookend the Transpennine train line and, of course, both provide excellent nights out. There aren’t as many, but there are a few places in Huddersfield that offer something a little quieter too. This isn’t for everyone as beer connoisseurs may find the crowds too big and possibly too loud, but for a groups of Joes looking for an alternative weekend away, we think it’s perfect. We had a ball anyway. For anymore info check out the Real Ale Trail website.