The Three Horseshoes, Madingley, is best known for its high quality, up-market food operation but it always has a selection of very well kept and interesting cask beers. A recent visit found ales from Potton, Ridleys and Adnams on offer. Meanwhile down the road at The Plough, now the only pub in Coton, the selection was Adnams Bitter, Flowers IPA, Morland Old Speckled Hen and Wadworth 6X - the last in exceptionally good form.
The Poacher at Elsworth is a smashing little pub with a well-beamed interior and a thatched roof. Barbara and Mark moved down from Lincoln last summer to take it on and have really found their feet. On the real ale front the number of beers has doubled with the regular Adnams Bitter now joined by an ever-changing guest - Leyland Gold on this occasion. The pub has always had a good reputation for food, which continues and with lower prices than the previous regime. Plans are afoot to make the garden more child-friendly with play equipment and so forth.
Heading east, The Golden Ball at Boxworth is also well worth a visit. Hilary Paddock has been here for over a year, having previously been at both The King of The Belgians, Hartford, and The Ferryboat, Holywell. This is another old thatched pub and though the interior was opened out many years ago it retains a traditional atmosphere. There's also a huge garden with a kids play area. Real ales are Adnams Bitter, Marston's Pedigree and a changing guest. Worthy of mention is the "Club Golden Ball" which offers members a free "get you home" facility, discounts on meals, mailings on promotions and even a free wedding car! Membership is at the very reasonable price of nothing.
Whilst in the area, why not pop over to the other side of the A14 and visit The White Horse, Swavesey? Ashley Davis and Denise Jameson run this excellent two-bar village pub where the good value food is complemented by four well-kept cask beers - Flowers IPA, Boddingtons Bitter, Morland Old Speckled Hen and a guest. The last is invariably from a local brewery, with Nethergate Swift, City of Cambridge Hobson's Choice and Fenland FBB appearing recently. There's also a well-stocked library!
Pubmaster have sold The Travellers Rest, Chittering, (on the A10) into the free trade and the pub has been extensively renovated by its new owners. The results are tasteful but anonymous. To say that food is important here is an understatement - during our brief visit we were asked three times if we were eating! However there is real ale in the shape of Greene King IPA and Marston's Pedigree.
Tony and Natalie Robinson have had to leave The George & Dragon, Littleport, and the pub is up for sale. In the meantime Charles Wells have installed managers and real ales are Eagle and Bombardier plus a changing guest. The Badger is much missed.
The Kings, Reach, is still under threat of becoming a private house. The locals have put in an offer for it of £130,000 and have further capital for refurbishment should they succeed.
The Red Lion at Swaffham Prior has been sold by John and Maggie Berry to Churchill Taverns, the first outlet for this company in the region. There are no visible changes so far. There are four real ales, including the excellent Old Hookey. The false handpump remains on the cider dispense though, ruling the pub out for possible inclusion in the Good Beer Guide. As a consumer organisation CAMRA has to take a stand against any form of deception. The White Swan, Bottisham, is being refurbished as offices.
Over at The Green Man, Six Mile Bottom, there's now one of the most original pub decors in the region, following the latest, tasteful refurbishment. Standard corporate theming has thankfully been avoided. The pictures on the walls reflect the horse racing connection: Red Rum and Desert Orchid share pride of place above the open fire. Deservedly this pub been voted "horse-racing pub of the year" in a competition covering the whole of the U.K. Candles, fresh flowers and plants decorate the tables in the bar as well as the restaurant. Mild is a fixture, usually Bateman's, and quite often one other Mild as well. Adnams Bitter is also a regular, along with one other bitter such as Slaters (from Eccleshall, Stafford). Landlord Jamie conducts the proceedings with a masterly wave of his baton and brings a wonderfully personalised service to the meal table.
There are new licensees at The Crown, Ashley and The Wagon & Horses, Linton.
Ron Beach & Ann Matthews have taken over The Three Hills, Bartlow whilst carrying on running the adjacent Post Office. They're loving the village life, having moved from London some years ago.
Outside the Branch area but of interest to anyone who cares about the
survival of rural pubs is The Fox Inn at Folksworth (near Peterborough).
The local shop closed last summer but the pub landlord, David Turner, has now opened
a shop in the pub.
[Source: BBC Breakfast News & Ceefax 2 March]