- Darts in hand at Greets Green -
Friday 14th April 2017 and our starting point is West Bromwich in advance of a ride on the 42 towards Great Bridge. Secretary WME always likes a look at Farley Park with its historic reading room lodge so we alight for a repeat investigation coupled with a pint in the Greets Green Sports Bar. Armed with some Abbeydale Moonshine, the Chairman continues his recent improved darting form while trying not to injure the resident dog when she strayed too close to the oche. The bar is part of the local social club premises which also includes a cafe fronting onto Whitehall Road.
- Shenton's Ironfounders -
To Great Bridge then as originally intended with local industry to the fore courtesy of Shenton's engineering works. Mr D9 gets all nostalgic for lost Pepsi cafes and doctors surgeries but we are pleased to see that the Old Crown Inn on Sheepwash Lane (opposite the library) has been resurrected as the Zions Bar, even if our visit has us thinking we've landed in a kindergarten rather than a pub. A brief stop for chips is followed by a call at the Lounge Bar (formerly the Limerick) where Secretary WME is only too happy to cash in his discount research - Samuel Smith's Extra Stout at £1.50 a pint, result!
- Bald spot busy spotting closets -
We rather liked the Lounge Bar/Limerick, a landmark pub by Great Bridge Market Place that summons up a sense of community and continuity. Sadly the nearby Nags Head remains disused and unloved as we commence a walk through to Dudley Port, the highlight of which is discovering a possible closet clue beside the Hebron Chapel. The Chairman peers over the wall hoping to get a view of forgotten urinals but its only really his bald spot that ends up on show.
- D9 driving on the 82 -
Dudley Port has the railway and canal in close proximity spanning the A461 on twin bridges. The Royal Oak is noted as a watering hole by the railway station before bus 74 combines with bus 82 to get us to the other side of Dudley for our Wrens Nest ferret. Wrens Hill Road leads us through to the nature reserve, a site of special geological importance - believe it or not, the land where Dudley now stands was covered by coral reefs and tropical seas some 400 million years ago (no, I don't remember that either). We dabble with some fossil finding then seek out a pub specimen in the form of the Caves, an estate boozer that's been spruced up a little of late. An orange-haired wench with a penchant for tattoos chats to us a while before we sup up and wander on to Woodsetton.
- Parkes Hall Pool -
Emerging onto Parkes Hall Road, there is unexpected scenery to stumble across when we find an intriguing secluded pool; apparently it was originally constructed by the Dudley Waterworks Company as a reservoir supplying the town with drinking water, and while the pool hasn't fulfilled that particular function for well over a century, it remains a little oasis utilised by local anglers. Elsewhere the Chairman gets most excited about an old Asda bus stop in the undergrowth by the Parkes Hall Social Club, then the pub picture archive is boosted by the inclusion of the Bramford Arms and the Brook.
- Turls Hill Road, Hurst Hill -
The Brook proves a nice find actually, its compact single storey aspect stretching back from Bourne Street into a larger building where the regular punters are engrossed watching Wolves v Brighton football action. We partake of Timothy Taylor's Landlord here before soldiering on to Sedgley, Turls Hill Road being a hidden track that reveals inviting views over pasture and paddock - not quite the usual vistas you associate with the heart of the Black Country. Sedgley serves us well with old faithful the Beacon Hotel in perfect position for a drop of Pale Amber; the pub was recently awarded the Dudley CAMRA Pub of the Year accolade and deservedly so, it's superb!
- Blakenhall Backstreets with blossom -
Showers set in as the number 1 bus trundles home to Wolverhampton although we do indulge in a Blakenhall pit stop. The Rose & Crown on Park Street South is situated opposite where the Phoenix Rise flats once dominated the local landscape - the pub has something of a medieval/Tudor theme judging by the curious friezes displayed on the lounge walls. Some backstreet navigation then allows for a final flurry in Wolverhampton itself, accounting for the Hooded Ram's predictably busy opening night. Ram's Head Bitter is just one of the ales hailing from the Isle of Man so we make a mental note to return and try more of the range in due course. A very good Good Friday - cheers!