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12 for '12 Quirky and Characterful Pubs

1. The Stiperstones Inn, Shropshire

Close to Shrewsbury, Shropshire, it takes its name from the weird rock formations of the Stiperstones, where you'll also find 'The Devil's Chair' and all of its associated tales.  The Inn itself doubles up as the local post office and shop, and as well as being renowned for its value-for-money meals, is one of the very few places in Britain you'll be able to sample whinberry crumble and custard.  The whinberries (or bilberries) being picked from the local hillsides each autumn. Visit The Stiperstones Inn website for more details. 

2 & 3. The Royalist, Gloucestershire

Gloucestershire lays claim to the oldest inn in Britain.  The Royalist in Stow dates back to 947AD and is a Grade II listed building.  Stylishly revitalised by its present owners, it is now one of the places to eat in Gloucestershire.  Meanwhile, a short distance away, in the magnificent medieval town of Tewkesbury, the atmospheric Olde Black Bear is said to be the county’s oldest pub.  The present building dates from the 16th century and Shakespeare is said to have performed there with his troupe of actors. More information can be found on The Royalist Hotel website, and the Olde Black Bear here.

4. The Brunswick Inn, Derby

This was the first purpose-built railway public house.  Constructed in 1842, the pub was restored to its former glory in 1987.  These days, a micro-brewery operates on site, and tours can be arranged to see the traditional brewing process first hand.  One of the city pubs which has enabled Derby to claim the title of The Real Ale Capital of England, The Brunswick Inn is also on what the 2011 Good Pub Guide described as the best pub crawl in Britain.  You can even sing-up to be a brewer for the day here! Take a look at their website for more details.

5. The Plough at Ford, Gloucestershire

Situated between Tewkesbury and Stow-on-the-Wold, this used to be the local courthouse, and what is now the cellar was once the gaol.  Directly opposite the pub is a racehorse training area.  Breakfasts for travellers en route to the Gold Cup meeting at Cheltenham are on offer, and they also specialise in local asparagus between May and June.  Visitors can sample beer brewed near Stow-on-the-Wold. The Plough's website

6. The Cary Arms Inn, Devon

Hard to believe this place is “simply” an inn.  Perched on the cliff edge of Babbacombe Bay, its terraces are where you can sit and enjoy a quiet drink while watching out for seals bobbing their heads above the lapping sea.  Some of the best bar food in Britain, and one of the finest places to spend the night, too! More details can be found here.

7. The Plough, Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent

Don’t expect to find a website for The Plough at Etruria.  It’s the epitome of a traditional well-run city centre pub.  And it wins the hearts, minds and stomachs of everyone who walks through its doors.  Well kept real ales, and a menu specialising in (superb) steak and chips which means you need to book-up weeks in advance if you want to dine here on a Friday or a Saturday night makes this a real hidden gem.

8. The Sun at Leintwardine, on the Shropshire/Herefordshire border

One of the few Parlour Pubs in the country, The Sun Inn almost invented the word quirky.  Just click onto the link below, and you’ll find 10 facts about The Sun Inn which will keep you entertained while you sup your pint. Take a look here for more details.

9. The Brewery Tap, Derby

Another of the pubs in Derby with its own microbrewery.  This one is famous for its Rack - a stylish wooden block containing five 1/3 pint glasses filled with Derby Brewing Company ales to help you find your perfect tipple.  Also featuring local cheese, it is now available featuring five lagers, wines, and even whiskeys.  The pub’s menu also gives advice on which beer will suit any given dish. The Brewery Tap's website.

10. Three Tuns, Bishops Castle, Shropshire

Not only a fine pub with its own real ales, but also the oldest working brewery in Britain.  The first brewing licence at this site was first granted by King Charles I in 1642 - and part of the existing brewery is of 17th century origin.  Refurbished and enlarged, it still maintains the spirit of the original pub and is a welcome relief from so many of today’s modern 'theme pubs' as it still retains public bar, snug bar, lounge bar with the addition of a classy oak-framed, glass-sided dining room. Take a look at their website for more details.

11. Ye Olde Dolphin Inne, Derby

Derby likes to think of itself as the Real Ale Capital of England.  And its oldest public house dates back to 1530.  An attractive old coaching inn sitting close to Derby Cathedral, Ye Olde Dolphin Inne was once an old highwayman's pub.  Today its speciality is traditional cask ales. More information here

12. Real Ale Corner, Chesterfield, Derbyshire

Not strictly a pub, but deserving a mention in this round-up, not least because it was named as the UK’s Independent Beer Retailer of the Year last year.  A specialist in local bottled beer, it offers a vast selection of real ales, local bottled beers and ciders from local breweries including Brampton Brewery, Thornbridge Brewery and Peak Ales.  They also supply draught real ales and although they are predominantly a shop, they also have outside bar facilities. The Real Ale Corner's website.


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