Fleet Valley

06/11/2012 at 20:59 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
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For November 2012, Rich took us back to the City, for a walk up the Fleet Valley through Hatton Garden and Clerkenwell to Islington.

We met up at the Cockpit, a small corner pub in the back alleys of the City, between Blackfriars and St Paul’s. It is a traditional pub, popular with local office workers and we enjoyed the Timothy Taylor’s Landlord.

Once assembled we head through the alleys to the west and down the the Blackfriar, opposite the newly re-opened Blackfriars station. This pub appears to occupy a small site from the outside, but cunningly stretches under the adjacent railway arches to add space for quite  few more tables. This could have been a dingy alcove, but the interior was decorated in a glorious arts and crafts style, particularly under the arches, and when it was (unbelievably) threatened with demolition, Sir John Betjeman helped to campaign to save it. Well worth a visit, and my pint from the Liverpool Organic Brewery wasn’t bad either.

Quite a walk from here, as we started north along New Bridge Street and Farringdon Street towards Holborn Viaduct, following the route of the River Fleet, which once flowed along the surface here and now runs in a tunnel below the road. Eventually we ended up at the wonderful Ye Old Mitre, tucked away in the alleys off Hatton Garden (and previously visited on Dimo’s crawl). The pub sits on land once occupied by the Bishop of Ely and as such used to be officially a part of Ely rather than London, although this is no longer the case today. The pub has a good range of ales, as well as good honest pub fare – such as toasties for just £1.99.

The next pub is another of my favourites but not yet visited on one of these crawls – the Craft Beer Company, just the other side of Hatton Garden on Leather Lane. This high-ceilinged corner pub is a sister of the lovely Cask in Pimlico (and a couple of newer pubs in their growing chain), and packs an astounding range of both ales and keg/bottled beers. I had a gorgeous pint from Magic Rock but was spoilt for choice; we each had something different and all were superb.

We could have happily lingered longer but that would be against the rules, there were other good pubs to find! Heading north again, we crossed over Clerkenwell Road to the Gunmakers on Eyre Street Hill. Although the observant will have noticed how partial I am to the lighter ales, I went for the Exmoor Dark here, which slipped down very nicely; others enjoyed their Landlord, Nightwatchman and Harveys. The pub looks small at the front but is quite deep, with a room which appears once to have been the back yard. One curiosity is that the home seems to be something of a home of Ben Sherman, sitting as it does opposite their HQ.

Onward again, and Rich teased us by passing the Coach and Horses and making a beeline for Shepherd Neame’s Betsey Trotwood. One of the great things about these crawls is going into pubs you’ve always meant to try; the Betsey is one of those for me, I’ve been past many times on work business but had never set foot in side before. I’m glad to have done so now, the Betsey was a lively place, and though I’m not always a fan of Shep’s staple ales, the Kent’s Best was rather good. The pub sits virtually on top of both the River Fleet as it flows underfoot down Farringdon Road.

Heading north again, and this time heading to a pub just on the eastern side of the old river, the Exmouth Arms, sitting on the corner of Exmouth Market. It’s a traditional looking pub with lovely old Courage tiling, but inside sports the decor of the new breed of beery-not-quite-gastro-pub. The beer list is pretty outstanding, with a huge bottled list and craft beers on tap (including the local Camden Town brewery), but we settled for the ales, and loved both the Aussie Blonde and Joshua Jane.

Finally, we headed north east from here along Rosebery Avenue to another great pub which Dimo first took us to before, the Harlequin. We couldn’t resist getting stuck into the old box of Trivial Pursuit as we did before; although with incredible timing given the news of the past week, two questions on the very first page related to Jimmy Savile! On that bombshell we suddenly found that it was about 10 minutes to the last Northern line train, so made a hasty exit for Angel tube and a date with a slightly fuzzy Saturday morning.

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