Saturday, 17 December 2011

My Favourite Pubs - Hunter's Lodge Inn, Priddy

I was supposed to be out walking with Yvonne today but am confined to the house with a horrible lurgy.  I'm sat shivering under a quilt, a blanket and a four seasons sleeping bag. I should be using my involuntary confinement to write my Christmas cards. I need to sit down and get on with it. Soon. In a minute. As a displacement activity, I thought I would begin to compile a list of some of the favourite pubs I have come across in my beer travels. I know I have only scratched the surface and that there are many fine pubs out that I don't know about, so any suggestions are most welcome.

Today's top pub:

Hunters Lodge Inn, Priddy

I love this pub. It's an effort to get to, sat on a lonely crossroads a couple of miles outside the ancient settlement of Priddy at the top of the Mendip Hills. This is Bronze Age barrow country, Roman lead mining country, folk festival and sheep fair country. It's also caving country. On the side of the pub in the carpark is a low square stone structure with a metal gate at the top. It looks like it might contain a well. In fact it is the entrance to Hunters Lodge Inn Sink, one of the many caves on Mendip. And just the other side of Priddy is Swildon's Hole, the longest cave on Mendip.

The exterior is unprepossessing, like many buildings up on Mendip it is faced with a grey pebbledash, and the pub sign hasn't been painted for many a year. Nor has the inside. This is one of those joyous discoveries, a pub which hasn't been mucked about with. It is clean and homely, in winter the fires will be burning in the grates, and the flagstone floors have been polished by countless boots crossing the threshold. No jukebox or faux Olde Englishe decor here, this is the real thing. I particularly like the ancient wallpaper, pre-historic figures hunting, which must be at least 50 years old.

The landlord and his wife, Roger and Jackie, are diamonds. Many the time my friends and I have staggered over the threshold after a mis-timed caving trip, mud splattering our faces, fifteen minutes before closing time and starving hungry.

'You' want some food?' Roger gives one of his half smiles and Jackie goes off to the kitchen to sort us out. None of the usual 'the kitchen is only open between 6 and 9' bollocks. Hearty bowls of chilli, pasta, macaroni cheese and other delights are all served with huge doorsteps of the most delicious fresh bread. As for the beer, I have been visiting this pub for years and have never, never, had even a slightly out of condition beer. It is always tip top. Dispensed by gravity from barrels lined up behind the bar, the local Cheddar Ales Potholer is always available, as is Butcombe. I don't know how Roger does it, but the Butcombe Beer here is the best I have tasted. There's generally one or two other guest ales and cider as well.

Local farmers and villagers, walkers, cavers and cyclists rub shoulders here. As long as you are not a prat (Roger doesn't suffer fools gladly) and as long as you turn off your mobile phone in the pub, you will love it.

See also my blog entry for 25 March 2011 Mission Abandoned

By the way, don't try and find a website for the pub, you will be wasting your time!

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more. The best pub in the world. I've been going to the Hunters since I was a babe-in-arms in the 1960's. Was there yesterday after, my youngest son and I scattered some of my late father's ashes into the stream in Swildons. Dad, a caver, had used the Pub since 1942. Not bad to be a regular for 72 years. I can only claim 49 so far!