When naming this tour "The Southern Cross" we envisaged a venture that would take us to the fine pubs that do business in the southernmost reaches of our area. We soon discovered that South Cambridgeshire is blessed with many fine pubs - far too many to include in one tour.

Southern Cross 2: The Rovers Return, will take place in the summer. If your local deserves a visit and was missed this time, please let us know.

The Campaign Trail

Cock Inn, Castle Camps

A distinctive 2 room pub with an unusual roof and a plate collection in the main bar. The Landlady, Lesley, was unable to talk to us at the time but rang me a few days later to confirm her commitment to local producers of real ale. Had we visited a week later we would have been able to sample Saffron Walden Breweries, Chestnut Grove 4.8%, and we had just missed another regular guest, Brandon Brewery Slippery Jack 4.5%. The bar staff were very friendly and the beer which was available was in good condition.

Beer tasted:

Poleaxed 5%

The Crown, Linton

Recommended by Carl Woolf.

A good measure of the quality of a pub is that it has plenty of custom at 3.30p.m. on a Saturday. Even so, the Landlord, Joel Palmer, was very welcoming and enthusiastic about real ale, especially those from local breweries.

Beers tasted:

Brandon Brewery
Gaelic Charm 4%
Barley Mow 5%
Suffolk County 4%
Carl recommended this on the strength of the excellence of the Nethergate Suffolk County he'd tried on a previous visit. The other beers were top notch too.

Three Tuns, Great Abington

Recommended by Paul Ainsworth.

Paul gave the Three Tuns such a good write up in the Autumn issue of ALE we couldn't wait to visit. Pleased to say, he was right on every count. It's a smashing pub.

Beers tasted:

Woods Cottage 4.5%
Helter Skelter 5%
The Helter Skelter was a clear favourite here.

Green Man, Thriplow

Recommended by the Cambridge Evening News readers. We just had to see why CEN readers had voted this as the CEN Pub of the Year.

A great welcome, excellent food and a couple of cracking beers offered a few clues.

Beers tasted:

Hop Back
Crop Circle 4.2%
Empire 4.4%

The Longbow, Stapleford

As we were now well into the evening the Longbow was by far the busiest of the pubs we were to visit. This didn't prevent Landlord Matt and Landlady Alison in turn taking time out to chat with us and to display a very sound knowledge of East Anglian beers.

Beers tasted:

Cascade 4.2%
Nelson's Revenge 4.5%
Church End
Goatsmilk 3.8%
IPA 3.9%
It had been a very enjoyable tour: good company, welcoming staff, and a great deal of spreading the word about the virtues of local real ales had been undertaken. Thanks to all who took part.

The next Cambridge CAMRA Campaign trail "Westward Ho!" will be exploring old, new and interesting public houses to the west of our region on the 30 December, beginning at 1.00pm from the County Arms on Castle Hill.

If you are passionate about real ale and are a member of Cambridge Branch, you are welcome to join us. Transport is provided but space is limited so please book in advance: contact Paul Ainsworth

Should your Local be included on the Tour? Contact Paul and let us know why.

Will Smith