With the guided Real Ale Walk with Lynne and Ian under our belts, the next day we set out on a self-guided walk. Armed with the a set of instructions provided by Ian, the eight mile loop would take us to the town of Holford and the Plough Inn.
Admittedly, I was a bit worried that we would take a wrong turn and end up in Cardiff, but the feeling more had to do with our ability to follow the instructions, not the quality of the directions. The walk instructions were very specific, such as advising to turn right just after a “grassy clearing with a solitary tree”. Lo and behold, we did in fact come across a clearing and turned dutifully to the right hand trail.
The walk took us through farmer’s fields, woodland, and finally along a trail astride to a meandering brook that lead us to the town of Holford.
After a little over four miles, we arrived at the Plough Inn ready for some pints and food. The pub had 3 real ales; two of which I had not tried yet. My favorite was the Tawny Bitter from Cotleigh, a Somerset brewery.
The publican was very friendly and when he saw me take the picture of the tap handles, he said he had something to give me to better remember my visit. He started digging in a bag – I thought he was trying to find me some bar mats – but he pulled out this nice Cotleigh bar towel and handed it to me. It was a nice gesture and while we find friendly publicans most of the time, they are not always willing to give up their beer stuff.
They also had a real cider. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention cider, as Somerset is the home to English cider. The real ale pubs will have a ‘proper’ cider on and in the case of the Plough Inn, it was the cider from Cheddar Valley. It looked like orange soda, but the flavor was crisp and refreshing. If you make it to Somerset, you need to give proper cider a try.
Filled with a few pints and some food, it was time to head back to Nether Stowey. Our return journey took us through moorland similar to what we hiked the previous day and in no time we were back at the Old Cider House.
I was pleased. We finally got some exercise on a trip – two eight mile walks was just what the doctor ordered. But moreover, Real Ale Walks was everything I imagined it would be. Great walks, great beer, and great people.