In West Yorkshire in the foothills of the Pennines is the Holme Valley — home base for the world’s longest-running sitcom. When it ended in 2010, ‘Last of the Summer Wine‘ had been on the BBC for a record 31 years and 295 episodes. The “sit” involved old geezers who had never really grown up exploring the beautiful countryside and dreaming up mini-adventures not usually undertaken by people their age. In a way, I can relate.
The filming of the show was a fixture of life for decades in and around the village of Holmfirth and included locations in nearby towns and villages like Meltham, Marsden, and Huddersfield. I planted myself in the area for several days to explore the gorgeous rolling countryside and a bit of the beer culture found in local breweries and pubs. I don’t think I am anywhere near as funny or old or interesting as those Summer Wine guys, but somehow I felt something in common.
Huddersfield is the city that serves as a hub for the area. A university town situated on a hilly landscape, it is a major train stop on the TransPennine Express line connecting Manchester with Leeds.
Exiting the train station I immediately encountered one of the most memorable pub signs I can think of at the King’s Head – in the square at the station. The King’s Head is a pretty common name for a pub all over the world (Google it if you don’t believe me) but when you see it, the illustration is usually of the head of a puffy, pasty, white guy in a powdered wig. This King’s Head has a modern take that I surely appreciated. Huddersfield had numerous interesting pub signs that caught my eye and prompted a stop for a cool one. As an aside, pub signs are a whole interesting topic in of themselves as they can be markers to centuries of local history. For a fun, short article on this read A History of Britain in Its Pub Signs.
Huddersfield proved to be a pleasant city to wander around in. There is a mix of distinguished architecture and there is vibrant street life in the pedestrian zones. And oh yeah, let’s not forget the breweries and beer venues. Magic Rock Brewing struck me as kind of a hipster place with a large variety of both cask and kegged options. Mallinsons has their public face in a taproom in the center called The Corner. Summer Wine Brewery is on the route between Huddersfield and Holmfirth so I used the bus to visit. Another nice craft beer venue I found near the city center was a place called The Grove – this is a friendly pub that is renowned for its large selection of beer options.
Following are some images from wandering in Huddersfield. Click on any image to enlarge it and to open a scroll-able slideshow.
Holmfirth to Holmbridge Country Hike & Breweries
What would a good beer be without a nice hike to precede it? My hosts suggested a walk from Holmfirth up over the ridge between the Ribble and Holme valleys to the village of Holmbridge where there is a country brewery. It was a great walk with huge views over grassy meadows to the west and the Pennines on the horizon. The Bridge turned out to be a pleasant country pub with good beer that they brew on-site. I think they get alot of walkers and bicyclists — a stage of the Tour de France came through here not too many years ago. From Holmfirth, it is a short bus ride down the Holme Valley back into Holmfirth.
Holmfirth was my base for my time in the area, and it turned out to be well-suited with good bus connections, all the services I needed, and some interesting beer options. I had made contact with a fellow Couchsurfer who lives in Holmfirth, Andrew, who kindly took me around on a bit of a pub crawl to orient me to the town. A pub and wine bar called The Brambles offers a couple of nice house brews made for them by the nearby Empire Brewing Company. A cozy brew pub called the Nook brews their own range of beers on site. And a hipstery bar called Gonzo offers a nice variety of craft beers from near and far. All of these places are within a few steps of each other in the village center. Holmfirth is also famous for a longstanding event venue called the Picturedrome which attracts performances by a variety of well-known performers.
Following are some images from the hike and pub crawl. Click on any image to enlarge it and to open a scroll-able slideshow.
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Photo Credits: The Bridge, The Nook, Holmfirth Events, The Grove