Stockport & South Manchester

Campaign for Real Ale

Campaign for Real Ale

Weekday Wander - Ramsbottom

Wednesday 6 March 2024 11:00

This trip is to Ramsbottom [more accurately Upper Ramsbottom but that is even worse!], so to be politically correct and avoid the wrath of Mary Whitehouse supporters, to Tup's Posterior could be weather dependent.

Unfortunately we have become aware that the Northern Whisper Brewing will be closing its doors for the last time on Sunday 11 February. There are alternative pubs available, or maybe we decamp to Bury and cover a couple of pubs there. Decision on the day.

Should we be in the grip of another Beast From The East/North/West then venturing into the wilds of those bleak northern reaches of Greater Manchester may not be a good idea. Then again, your author comes from a similar location, and knows it takes a foot (254mm) of snow to halt a town like Ramsbottom, whereas anything more than 5mm of snow in Manchester causes absolute chaos!

For an old established mill town, there may be only one 'proper' pub on this trip, and that is held in reserve as a back-up.

Though within Greater Manchester, and having a train station, we will have to use bus and tram as the Bee Bus rail travel concessions dosn't apply on the East Lancashire (steam) Railway — That would have been a grand start to the day – Dash!

ROB-2104-150373-casked-ramsbottom.jpg First up and around the corner and to some extent tucked away on a back street is Casked. This is a sister outlet, to Casked Ale House & Ginporium, which we visited on the Rawtenstall trip. There are 5 handpumps on the bar, with ales sourced predominantly from local breweries such as Brewsmith, Deeply Vale and Reedley Hallows. The pub has a pizza oven for those drinkers that need some food as well. By cunning planning, on Wednesdays they offer half price pizzas with selected drinks. Whether cask ale is included in this offer needs establishing. NOTE: Upon my visit in early January Casked was closed.

ROB-1770-109504-irwell-works-brewery-tap-ramsbottom.jpg Our next destination is a little further along the street and is the Irwell Works Brewery Tap. After a hiccup just before Christmas, this outlet is again open for business. They also major on local ale, it simply needs to get up the stairs! They offer up to eight beers, with a style to suit (almost) everyone. A charmingly decorated bar with a rustics local feel. The substantial veranda with extensive views across the valley probably won't be high on or itinerary today! Very dog friendly, being more like Crufts on a recent visit!

ROB-2095-120416-northern-whisper-brewing-co-ramsbottom-ramsbottom.jpg Third up, back on the main road, is a Northern Whisper Brewing outlet, again a sister to that visited in Rawtenstall back in November. This is however a completely different décor, being a mix of stark wooden furniture and comfy settees! Being made up of three premises distributed down Bridge Street means there are altitude challenges depending on where we sit. Wednesday also happens to be (thanks to cunning planning) money off day, so you can sample two of the four cask offering for little extra expense.

On leaving, it is worth a short detour (just across the road) to view the Tilted Vase, an art installation by Edward Allington as part of the Irwell Sculpture Trail. 1200px-Ramsbottom_Tilted_Vase_010405.jpg

We now have to make a choise; do we drop a few yards down the street and visit a Thwaites pub full of locals or take the ten minute walk to visit the Holcombe Tap (a bus is an option, but requires cunning timing). Alternatively we could have doubled up in any of the previously visited pubs and make this a three outlet wander.

If we drop down the street we can enter the Oaks, as said a Thwaites pub, which offers only the Lancashire brewed beers, so none of the Wolverhampton mimics. A warm and friendly welcome and offers a wide range of facilities such as open fires and pub games.

On the other hand the Holcombe Tap is a modern bar with a variety of beers on offer, including a house beer. Though not an obvious destination in March, there is also a beer garden which may be an option as it is blessed with space heaters. There is also a 10% off for CAMRA members, offered without request on my reconnaissance visit - and no beer gut nor sandals in site, how do they do it?

Departure presents a dilemma. If you want to utilise the excellent X41 direct bus service to Manchester they leave at 16:47 and 18:07 and take an advertised 56 minutes, but are obviously dependent on traffic. An alternative is to catch a bus back to Bury, then utilise the tram from there. This is timed at about 70 minutes, but isn't vulnerable to motorway traffic. The route through Bury is best if the Holcombe Tap is visited (saves the 10 minute walk back to te bus stop) and also offers a toilet stop for the urinary challenged.

11:0011:10Meet at Manchester Chorlton Street Coach Station
11:1011:54Bus X41 towards Accrington alighting at Stop D in Ramsbottom
11:5412:00Food is available in our first pub, if open, but the bus stops outside Bridge Street Chippy, open 11 to 3pm
12:0013:30Casked2-4 Prince Street, Ramsbottom, BL0 9FNYes
13:3014:30Irwell Works Brewery TapIrwell Street, Ramsbottom, BL0 9YQ 
14:3015:30Northern Whisper2 Market Place, Ramsbottom, BL0 9HT 
15:3016:30Option 1: Oaks39 Bridge Street, Ramsbottom, BL0 9AD 
15:3016:30Option 2: Holcombe Tap13 Bolton Road West, Ramsbottom, BL0 9NALight meal
Various16:47 and 18:07 for X41 direct to Manchester in 56 minutes
17:13 (472), 17:20 (474), 17:33 (472) and 17:40 (474) for bus to Bury then tram, around 70 minutes

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