ALE November/December 1996 No. 286

The Fen Reveals A Gem

For centuries, travellers journeying along the road between King's Lynn and Ely have paused for refreshment at Brandon Creek. This is where Hereward the Wake defied the Norman invader; where the Scots and Irish prisoners were detained in the Civil War; where fen met sea-going waterway. The Cambridge Branch of CAMRA have recently passed this way and fully realised the merits of The Ship Inn and voted it their Pub of the Year.

Facing you squarely between the eyes as you walk in is a section of the bar proudly presenting the handpumps. Mauldons, Butcombe, Adnams, Hook Norton, Elgoods, Batemans, etc. with a careful selection through the gravity range. A full measure served every time in a sparkling glass from a traditional dispense. The recently refurbished cellar ensures proper temperature control. So there's not a lot wrong with the beer.

At one end round a wood-burning stove is a railed-off sitting area with prints of old fenland life adorning the the walls. The split-level effectively makes this a distinct, cosy area - a popular choice for quiet conversation. CAMRA newsletters from three counties are regularly displayed on a nearby shelf and, on the campaigning front, Good Beer Guides are always on sale.

A Real Fire Welcome, even in June

At the other end is a blazing log fire, the focal point of an area of candlelit tables ready for bar meals, serviced largely from the new servery, a feature of the latest refubishment. Friday night is serve-yourself curry - eat as much as you like for about 7. Each wall in this area is adorned with a model of a ship, each one quite different.

For the more formal meal, the wood-panelled dining room seats up to 32 people, the prime seat being perhaps the window box overlooking the fork in the river. Food is always available when the pub is open. Winter opening is 12-2.30, 6.30-11, Tues. - Sat., 12-3, 7-10.30 Sunday. Closed all day Monday.

Beware the dim shape wriggling in mid-air...

Outside there is ample car parking, also gardens and boat moorings with ghosts reputed to haunt the riverbank. It is very popular with the boating fraternity in summer while the local support comes from a surprisingly large number of fenfolk from the surrounding hamlets. The buoyant repartee is available to all customers from landlord Tony Hook and his wife. Happy, smiling service is their watchword.

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