ALE Summer 2004 No. 314 : Next section

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Unique pubs of East Anglia

Number 2: The Berney Arms, Norfolk

Like the first pub in this series (the George & Dragon, Foulness) this is a pub remarkable for its location rather than any architectural or historic interest. It can be reached only by water, train, mountain bike or, if you like walking, foot (on my recent visit I arrived by train then walked the five miles to Great Yarmouth, a pleasant stroll along the Weavers Way, mostly by the shore of Brading Water).

Only four trains a day call (on request) at the tiny wooden platform which constitutes Berney Arms station. From Norwich there are trains at 7.35 and 10.35 (10.28 Saturdays), and from Berney Arms back to Norwich they go at 14.22 (14.14 Saturday) and 18.19. From the station you walk across drained marshes to a large windmill; this is an English Heritage property, but only open to pre-booked groups. It's then a short saunter along the banks of the Yare to the splendidly isolated pub, snuggles below the high riverbank.

Turning right on entry brings you to the main bar which has a modern stone-flagged floor, high-backed settles, a rather naff brick-built bar counter and walls festooned with prints and nick-nacks, many of a nautical nature. Beyond this are a couple of dining rooms, the second with patio doors leading to a large veranda, also used for dining. This overlooks an odd little grassed area, dotted kitschily with ornaments and wishing wells.

Going back to the entrance, a left turn brings you to a small room with an old tiled floor, a dartboard and a wonderful Rock-ola jukebox, stuffed with Sixties sounds. Beyond that, another room is largely devoted to the playing of pool.

Four real ales are available: Woodforde's Wherry, Adnams Bitter, Greene King IPA and Youngs Bitter. The pub does sufficiently good business from boaters to keep them in fine nick. Food is important here and the extensive menu ranges widely across the grub spectrum. Rail travellers get a 10% discount on a two-course meal.

For obvious reasons, the Berney Arms opens only in the summer. And yes, I did forget to ask how the beer gets delivered!

Paul Ainsworth

ALE Summer 2004 No. 314 : Next section
Cambridge & District CAMRA