ALE Spring 2000 No. 297

A Summer Trip Out

By public transport!

A exploration pub crawl from Cambridge was planned by the Branch for Saturday 20th June 1999 to cover Isleham, Fordham and Soham. This crawl was all do-able by public transport. For the journey buy an explorer ticket: this costs 5.00 and will do you for most of the crawl.

The 122 service departed Drummer Street bus station at 10:00, arriving in Fordham at 10:51. Getting off at the Fordham Crown makes this the first stop. The Crown opens at 11:00 and is a Greene King house, serving IPA and Abbott, both of which were in good condition. A relaxing pint or two can be had here, then turn left from the pub to the cross-roads, and turn down the Isleham road and wait for the 125 service operated by Neal's Travel. This departs around 12:01. This and the return to Fordham is the bit not covered by the explorer ticket.

Arrival in Isleham at 12:07 gives you time to visit all three pubs. The furthest away is the Merry Monk, which is 5 mins walk. This is a Free House, currently stocking Whitbread Flowers and Castle Eden Bitter, both of which are in very good condition. The food is also worth considering. The pub has two bars, one for drinking, the other is really set aside for eating but this does not appear to be a problem when quiet.

Back to the village centre, and the other two pubs are within two minutes. The further of the two is the Rising Sun, serving Greene King IPA in good condition. This pub appears to be trying to cater three areas: food, a quiet place for a pint and pool etc. It seems to succeed quite well at it, as does the Merrie Monk.

The last pub in Isleham is the Griffin, which did not have ale on at the time of visit. In a previous visit it had Greene King IPA and the landlord said he was hoping to start doing food.

Also in Isleham is the Old Comrades Club which may do Ale and may be serving Adnams Bitter. As you have to be a member to visit this establishment, however, the information is not confirmed as yet.

Depart Isleham by the 14:31 bus, arriving at the Fordham Chequers at 14:43. Just time for a quick one and it is unusual as it serves Friary Meux Best Bitter. The pub is divided into two bars, one for food and one for everything else. On this visit the beer was not in very good condition, although it has been previously.

The other place to drink in Fordham is the ex-Greyhound pub, now known as the White Pheasant restaurant, which can have up to three ales on. City of Cambridge and Hook Norton Best Bitter have been seen in here. They don't mind you stopping in for a pint when it is quiet. Again, the food is said to be excellent and all home-cooked.

Depart the Chequers in Fordham on the 15:15 116 to Soham; ignore the Cherry Tree as it does not serve any real ale. Get off at Webb Stores. Go back on yourself 5 yards and turn left at the mini-roundabout. Go to the bottom of this road and turn right. The Carpenters Arms, which is a free house, is in front of you. This does three real ales, usually Draught Bass, Greene King IPA and a guest beer. There have been some unusual beers here too.

Out of the Carpenters, turn left and follow the road to the bottom, where it turns sharp left. Go straight on, following the tarmac footpath. Over the river, to the road, then straight ahead. At the top of this road is the High Street. Directly in front of you is the Red Lion. At time of visit although there was a Handpump, it was not in use.

Turn left, and 20 yards down is the Ship, a Greene King house doing IPA and Abbott. Both beers are usually in excellent condition.

After the Ship, turn right, back up the High Street to the Fountain, which does Courage Best and Theakston Best, in excellent condition. At the time of visit, it was doing Marston`s Pedigree as well. However the Landlord says he cannot support three ales during the winter, and is reviewing his beer range. The pub also does good food in the lounge (need to book), but have a look in the lounge anyway, as the wood is real and is Listed.

Across the road from the Fountain, in the Market Square, is the Soham Old Comrades Club, which does Greene King IPA on handpump. Again, you need to be a member to visit this club.

Since the Angel in Soham has been closed, and it looks very much like becoming a house, the only other drinking establishments are the Bushel and Strike, which has a handpump, but it was not in use at time of visit, and the Soham Town Rangers Football Club, which also does Greene King IPA on handpump. Again, you need to be a member.

Note that the Carpenters, Ship, Red Lion and Fountain are open all day on Saturdays.

Departing Soham from the church are buses at 17:24, 18:43 or 23:14. The last one is OK if you don't need to get back to Cambridge! The 17:24 and 18:43 will connect you with the 19:19 109 to Cambridge in Ely, and there is a 21:22 109 service to Cambridge also. You may find the 18:43 - 19:19 a bit tight, so leave time and you can enjoy the delights of the Fountain and the Prince Albert in Ely. Alternatively, take the train back to Cambridge.

Should you miss any buses, taxis are not cheap, and difficult to find, especially in Isleham! (A taxi from Soham Church to Ely Railway Station is around 7.50.)

If you wish to try this crawl, please check bus times, and prices, with Stagecoach and Neal's. Also with Neal's, check the getting on and off points, as they can be in what seems the wrong direction.

Happy Drinking.

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