Tag Archives: cider

All Aboard for a Rail Ale Trail Tour.

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Saturday dawned, sunny but chilly.Just the ticket for a day of exploration along the East Lancs Railway. 🙂  My Birthday Present for the O H this year was a Rail Ale Trail Tour which started at ‘Bury Bolton Street Station’, stopping off at the Lancashire towns of Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall. Happily Wils brother very kindly gave us a lift to Bury, where we immediately made ourselves at home in the station’s The Track side bar on Platform two.. After a quick coffee we got straight onto the Ale ( or in my case,cider) and Wil bought a hunk of homemade Pork Pie. ‘The Track side’ has up to ten real ales as well as award winning ciders and perries.

By 11-30am our Tour Guide Suzanne had rounded us up and with childlike excitement ( on my part, anyway! ) we boarded the train. There’s something quite thrilling about taking a journey on an old fashioned steam engine. I felt like I was channeling my inner Railway Children. 🙂

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Our Train Arrives. 🙂

Whilst on the train there was time to buy bottled beers and our guide regaled us with a few titbits of information about the countryside we were chugging through. The track is twelve miles  of Heritage Railway , it’s upkeep is solely done by hard working volunteers. It spans some of the  Irwell Valley’s  picturesque Pennine scenery. First stop was the vibrant market town of Ramsbottom. Lunch is provided on the tour and after trackside photo opportunities we piled into Owens Restaurant & Bar  for Fish and Chips. This comfy  modern restaurant has two ales on tap. It’s also dog friendly, as is the Rail Ale Trail Tour. 🙂 If we had realised beforehand we might have brought Hugo.Not sure he would have been well behaved enough though!

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Lunch at Owens.

After lunch Suzanne took us to a fab little micropub called The Ramsbottom Tap on Bolton Street and bought everyone a quick half. The Tap is a bright and cozy space with retro prints adorning the walls and a good selection of ales and ciders.

Ramsbottom seemed to have a varied selection of interesting independent shops, tearooms and pubs so I think it would be somewhere we would return to in the future.The town even has it’s own brewery. Our next stop was indeed the Irwell Works Brewery which is situated back down the hill from the ‘Ramsbottom Tap’, in a former Steam,tin,copper & Iron works. The bottom half of the building houses the brewery which makes several  beers including ‘Copper Plate’ bitter,’ Iron Plate’ Lancashire Stout  and the brilliantly named ‘Marshmallow Unicorn’ Milk stout. These are served upstairs in  the Brewery Tap along with most other tipples you can think of. 🙂


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Irwell Works Brewery and Rail Trail regulars below ; Bliss and Misca. 🙂

Mid afternoon , and we were back on the steam train and meandering our way to the town of Rawtenstall. Rawtenstall is actually famously the home of England’s oldest original  Temperance Bar Fitzpatricks, which I would have loved to visit. I am a big fan of their Rose Hip and Rhubarb Cordial!  However we decided to remain in the vicinity of the station and enjoy a couple of drinks there. Buffer Stops offers five ales and one cider as well as locally made pies, outdoor seating and a traditional style waiting room area. There were plenty more photo opportunities of our mode of transport for the day too….

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The great thing about the East Lancs Rail Ale Trail Tour is that your not strictly confined to sticking with it all day.As Rawtenstall is a little nearer home than Bury, we decided to remain here a while instead of joining the others back to Bolton Street Station.Wil’s brother very kindly picked us drunkards up at five and took us back to Clitheroe. We definitely owe him one!  If you are interested in doing one of the many types of tours along this beautiful stretch of railway check out the  East Lancs Railway Website for more information.  The tour we took cost £35.50 each and included lunch, a bit of beer sampling and a professional Blue Badge Tour Guide. It is also possible to ride the train and explore the area yourself without doing an official tour. We will be back!




Apple Pressing Day.

Now my tipple of choice down the pub is cider. I’m not a lager or real ale fan  so when Dove Syke Cider in nearby West Bradford held their annual Apple Pressing Day , I dragged the other half to the mini Cider Festival they were holding to celebrate the event.

October is the time when all the apples are pressed to make the cider and that day Dove Syke is opened to the public. Everyone can help out by bringing their own apples to be pressed.:)

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Enthusiastic helpers sorting the apples. :)
Enthusiastic helpers sorting the apples. 🙂
Apples about to be squished.
Apple’s about to be squished.
The Apple Pressing Machine.
The Apple Pressing Machine.

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The pulp is pressed into cakes which isn't wasted. It is used as fertilizer and also goes to a nearby farm to feed the pigs.
The pulp is pressed into cakes which isn’t wasted. It is used as fertilizer and also goes to a nearby farm to feed the pigs.
The apple juice ferments until next spring when it is turned into cider.
The apple juice ferments until next spring when it is turned into cider.
Voila! Here's some cider. ;)
Voila! Here’s some cider. 😉

We certainly enjoyed the selection of ciders on offer at Dove Syke Farm . Think we tried them all!  Flavours we sampled included the original Ribble Valley Gold, Elderflower, Cranberry, Strawberry and Rhubarb. The hot mulled cider was delicious too. 😉

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Erm think we may have had one to many here!
Erm think we may have had one to many here!

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Camping was available. Maybe next time.....:)
Camping was available. Maybe next time…..:)

We only stayed through the afternoon. That cider is strong stuff! As we left the festival was getting busier and more local bands were getting ready to entertain folks. Food was being served too. The atmosphere reminded me of a friendly Lancashire hoedown. 🙂

Are you a cider drinker?