The Retford Ramble
The Retford Ramble -A ramble through the town visiting some of the better pubs.
The start of the ramble is at the Galway Arms which is opposite West Retford church and close to the northern end of the ring road and finishes at the Brew Shed which is close to the southern end of the ring road.
The Galway Arms is 300 metres from the town centre on Bridgegate, it is an open plan pub with four distinct different areas. Sport is shown on tv, regular poker evenings are held and there is live music most Friday and Saturday evenings. The pub opens early at weekends for breakfasts and serves Black Sheep bitter regularly plus up to three changing guest beers. On our visit the guest beers were Black Sheep Monty Python’s Holy Grail and Copper Dragon Golden Pippin.
Back towards town and turn left immediately after the bridge over the River Idle, walk down to the car park and exit it where the cars enter from the ring road and continue to the traffic lights. Over the road past the front of the Black Boy and the Brick and Tile is 200 metres further along Moorgate on the opposite side of the road. The two roomed free house is well patriated by regulars that make the pub a proper “local”. There is a lounge and a “tap room” with a pool table and tvs that show sport. The pub is due a refurbishment in February 2018 when it may close for a short time. At present there are two/three rotating guest beers. At the time of our visit the beers were Holts Two Hoots and Caledonian Brewery Edinburgh Castle.
Back towards the town centre, crossing over the road, and just before the ring road traffic lights is the Black Boy. Renowned for its exterior floral display in summertime, this pub also attracts a large proportion of regular drinkers due in part to the reasonably priced drinks. The open plan pub is comfortable, shows sport on tv and has a dart board, there is even a tv in the smoking area. A Springhead beer is usually available, Surrender, a 4.8%ABV pale beer on our visit, plus two guest beers, which were Sharps Atlantic and Tom Woods Bomber County.
Turn left out of the Black Boy and then left again walking at the side of the ring road; take the second right turn onto Grove Street and the Turks Head is 50 metres on the right. An imposing stone building with an open plan wood panelled interior. There is a pool table, dart board and hook the ring. On the bar were Courage Directors, Timothy Taylors Landlord, Adnams Ghost Ship and Thwaites Wainwright.
Across the road is the Dominie Cross, a Wetherspoon’s Lloyds No1 pub. The building has been a garage and a supermarket before it became a pub. Not as impersonal as some pubs in the group, there are photos of old Retford on the walls and two impressive chandeliers hang above the bar. Ruddles Best Bitter and Green King Abbott Ale plus up to six guest beers including beers from local breweries are usually available. Exmoor Exmas Ale was the favourite tipple on the day on our visit.
Out of the Dominie Cross front door, turn left and walk to the Market Square. Face the Town Hall and take the opening to the left of the main steps and BeerHeadZ micro pub is 50 metres on the left in the Town Hall yard. The pub opened in October 2014, and beers from over 250 different breweries were sold in the first year; there are up to five changing beers, several real ciders and continental bottled beers on offer. BeerHeadZ was North Notts CAMRA pub of the year 2015 and Nottinghamshire CAMRA pub of the year 2016. On our visit the beers available were Elb (East London Brewing Company) Pale Ale, Dynamite Valley TNT IPA, Spingo Ales Bens Stout, Penzance Brewing Liberty and Padstow Lobster Tale.
Left out of BeerHeadZ to the end of the town hall yard, right to the end of Exchange Street and then left for 200 metres. At the junction of West Street (opposite Asda) turn left and the White Lion is 50 metres on the right. Another open plan pub that has live music occasionally. The pub has a pool table and a large beer garden at the back. There are usually two rotating guest beers on the bar and often from local breweries, we were able to sample Pheasantry Best Bitter, the GBG 2015 champion in its category, and Springhead Outlawed.
Right out of the White Lion for a few metres, across the car park to the right, and the Ship Inn (formerly the Rum Runner) can be accessed through its much talked about gates made by a local artist. This Bateman’s pub has undergone a major refurbishment, is serving food again in the separate dining room and has 8 beers on the bar, usually 4 Bateman’s and 4 guest beers. On our visit the guest beers were Brewsters Hophead, Oakham Citra, St Austell Tribute and Sharp’s Doombar.
The Idle Valley Tap is 50 metres along Wharf Road, opposite the fire station. The single roomed pub used to be the tap for the Idle Valley brewery (no longer trading) and opened in November 2015 after being completely refurbished since it closed its doors as the Anchor. The pub has a pool table and dart board and the space outside has been maximised to get as much seating as possible. Despite its short life the pub has been awarded Pub of the Season by North Notts CAMRA. On the bar are up to eight beers, all changing, and on our visit we sampled Clarks Classic Blonde and White Horse Village Idiot.
Out of the Tap, onto Carolgate bridge and just over the apex is The Brew Shed (opposite the Masonic Hall but be careful not to walk straight past). Opened in August 2017 this small one roomed pub has soon become a favourite with real ale drinkers. At present there are usually 2 beers from the Shiny brewery and 2 guest beers. On our visit Vacant Gesture was available, Black Iris Stab in the Dark as well as the 2 Shiny beers. in 2018 it is hoped the Harrison Brewery will be up and running in the yard behind the Brew Shed.
A pleasant ramble through the town, beers were fine with 44+ beers available and the pubs are a good mix that in my opinion complement each other.