The Old Poets Corner
By Sharon Wilson
The Old Poets Corner is a unique pub with five B&B rooms in Ashover, Derbyshire, a village dipping its toes into the edge of the Peak District. CAMRA awarded it Pub of the Year in 2015.
There is a convenient carpark with a spectacular view of undulating hills at the back of the pub and round the front is the main entrance/bar/reception. Timber beams and stone signal the pub was originally a 17th-century coaching inn.
Rooms are named after poets, and we stayed in 'Kipling'. Rooms have original features including a wrought iron bed under a stained-glass window overlooking 'Ye Olde Tuck Shop'. The church spire pokes through the trees behind. It's chocolate box charming.
The pub is now one of a handful owned by the Titanic Brewery a Staffordshire operation brewing a range of cask and craft ales.
When I went down to the bar, my husband was savouring a pint of 'Captain Smith's' which he described as 'caramelly and malty'. Ten ales are listed on the chalkboard and dispensed from gleaming handpumps at the bar.
As I ducked under a beam hanging with pewter tankards towards a table by the real fire I was almost knocked over by an enthusiastic Newfoundland dog the size of a small pony. It belonged to one of two local families sitting the other side of the hearth. Children were playing cards, and empty glasses and bottles of Prosecco intimated a Friday afternoon jolly. Dogs of various sizes and breeds were tethered to feet and hands.
We relaxed into the lively atmosphere and ordered Five Bean Chilli and a glass of Malbec and Steak and Ale Pie with mash and mushy peas. The pie was brimming with meat. It was a hearty plate of food swimming in gravy which threatened to spill onto the table. My chilli was standard pub grub. The bias was on tortilla chips and white rice at the expense of a mere spoonful of vegetables and beans. Note however, that the fish ‘n’ chips and beef lasagne which we ate the next day were very good.
Instead of pudding, I ordered a glass of the multi-award-winning Plum Porter, which is fruity and smooth with a hoppy edge.
A traditional 'Full English' breakfast set us up for a walk the next day. The Shivering Mountain 24 miles away was declared an excuse for a return visit. Instead, we took an easy walk which starts immediately next to the pub. A bridle path nicknamed 'Coffin Road' leads you to the River Amber (Kingfishers have been spotted) up some hillocks and through the bucolic countryside.
If you like hearty food, real ales and exploring the nooks, crannies and landscape of the English countryside then the characterful Old Poet's Corner is highly recommended. At only £70 a night for a double room bed and breakfast this pub both walks with kings and still retains the common touch.