Over the Borders
This is a personal selection of pubs within a few miles of the Stockport border which I feel are worth visiting, and makes no claim to be comprehensive. I have included some just over the boundary into Manchester, but I have not attempted to give any coverage to Manchester city centre which includes a number of very good pubs, but is well covered elsewhere. These are not necessarily the "best" pubs, they are just ones I happen to know and like. Needless to say, all of these pubs, to the best of my knowledge, serve real ale.
- Agden Brow - Wheatsheaf (Hydes)
- On the A56 just a few hundred yards from the Jolly Thresher at Broomedge (see below), this is a plainer, more down-to-earth, but nonetheless comfortable pub popular with older regulars. Modernised in the 1980s it is basically one bar but has distinct "vault" and "lounge" ends. In 2001 won Hydes' cellar competition, although it does not sell Jekyll's Gold or the seasonal beers.
- Bollington - Holly Bush (Robinson's)
- Unspoilt 1930s pub near the centre of Bollington (insofar as the village has a centre), with a multi-roomed interior and extensive wood panelling. Appears on CAMRA's National Inventory of historic pub interiors.
- Broomedge - Jolly Thresher (Hydes)
- Large pub on a busy crossroads on the A56 that has been developed by Hydes as something of a showpiece. Offers the full range of their beers and a wide selection of food. Inevitably its character has been eroded over the years, and the locals seem to cluster awkwardly at one end of the bar counter, but it still has a rambling feel and a variety of different areas.
- Gawsworth - Harrington Arms (Robinson's)
- Unspoilt, utterly traditional pub, still part of a working farm. No food, no music, just good beer and good conversation. Off the A536 south of Macclesfield.
- Great Budworth - George & Dragon (Punch Taverns, ex-Tetley)
- Ivy-clad, foursquare Edwardian pub opposite the church at the heart of Cheshire's prettiest village. Cosy, congenial lounge at the front in the traditional beams'n'brasses style, and surprisingly large public bar at the rear. Varied guest beers available, often from micro-breweries. Just off the A559 between Stretton and Northwich.
- Handforth - Railway (Robinson's)
- Free-standing pub next to Handforth station, internally modernised but still including a traditional vault alongside the comfortable lounge.
- Hatton - Hatton Arms (Pub Company, ex-Greenalls)
- Very attractive old country pub that has now expanded to take over the whole of a row of cottages. The core of the pub, with its cosy, beamed main bar area, and snug and tap room at either side, is little changed since the 1950s. Recent modernisation has added a restaurant and a small number of letting bedrooms. Situated on the B5356, off the A49 south of Warrington at the Cat & Lion, near to M56 Junction 10.
- Little Bollington - Swan with Two Nicks (Whitbread)
- Attractive pub near a footbridge over the River Bollin where there is a converted mill, on the edge of the Dunham Massey estate. Reached by turning off the main A56 by the Stamford Arms. The pub has been much extended and has a strong emphasis on food, but retains a multi-roomed feel, particularly at the front, and offers guest beers, recently (Autumn 2008) including several from the local Dunham Massey Brewery. Can be very busy on summer weekends. Note that Little Bollington is near Altrincham and a long way from Bollington proper (which is not actually on the Bollin).
- Mobberley - Bird in Hand (Samuel Smith)
- Attractive, white-painted pub whose interior retains a warren of small, cosy rooms around the central bar, warmed by real fires in winter. Although the atmosphere is unashamedly upmarket, the beer prices are remarkably low (£1.24 for Old Brewery Bitter in February 2002). Situated on the B5085 between Wilmslow and Knutsford.
- Penketh - Ferry Tavern (Inntrepreneur)
- Unique, isolated location between the Mersey and the St Helens Canal, reached from the car park by crossing both canal and railway. I remember it as a superb, multi-roomed pub full of nautical memorabilia; in the mid-80s it was gutted in the "Pennine Hosts" style, but the current licensees have done their best to repair the damage. Offers up to four guest beers from independent breweries, making it the best beer pub for miles around, plus an incredible range of whiskies, and also serves excellent food. The perfect justification of the old saw "hard to find, but worth the effort"!
- Prestbury - Admiral Rodney (Robinson's)
- OK, it's in upmarket Prestbury, but it's a cosy, rambling, traditional pub with lots of dark wood, and a long-standing Good Beer Guide entry. The pub's own car park is rather cramped and inaccessible, but there is a larger public car park to the rear about two minutes' walk away.
- Rainow - Highwayman (Thwaites)
- Known locally as "The Patch", this extremely characterful pub stands in an isolated moorland location on the Macclesfield - Whaley Bridge road. The interior is a warren of small rooms with real fires in winter and impressively thick walls to keep out the cold.
- Wilmslow - Coach & Four (Hydes)
- Large pub at the southern end of Wilmslow town centre, formerly called the "New Inn". Has been very tastefully refurbished by Hydes as a "Heritage Inn" with a wealth of dark wood, plenty of comfortable bench seating and a variety of different areas rambling into each other, giving much of the feeling of a genuinely old interior. Has a large car park, very useful in a busy town centre.
- Brookbottom - Fox (Robinson's)
- Old pub in a tiny hamlet where the only vehicular access is a spectacular (and very narrow) high-level road from New Mills that gives magnificent views across the Goyt valley. There is also a path up from Strines Station. The interior comprises a pool room and a congenial, characterful lounge.
- Buxworth - Navigation (Free House)
- Stone-built former Wilsons pub overlooking the restored canal basins that were once the northern terminus of the Cromford & High Peak Railway. Pleasant, rambling interior around a central bar, offering good food and some interesting guest beers. Just off the B6062 between the A6 at Bridgemont and Chinley.
- Charlesworth - George & Dragon (Robinson's)
- Four-square, four-roomed stone-built pub at the crossroads in the centre of this village a few miles east of Marple on the A626 Glossop road. Nothing special, but a comfortable, welcoming pub with a good mix of locals and visitors. The "Monks' Road" from here to the Grouse on Chunal Moor (on the Glossop-Hayfield road) traverses some spectacular Peak District scenery.
- Rowarth - Little Mill (Free House)
- Rambling old pub with a restored mill wheel outside, situated in a remote moorland hamlet amidst magnificent Peak District scenery. Popular with families on summer weekends. Although in Derbyshire, only accessible by road from Stockport. Now has its own
- Burnage - Sun in September (Samuel Smith)
- Attractive pub converted from a former private hotel and situated in its own grounds, just off Kingsway near the Fog Lane traffic lights. Has a traditional vault and a comfortable lounge. The original Indian Raj theme has been downplayed in the pub's recent refurbishment. You can now take your drink out in the garden, which for many years was prohibited by the conditions of the licence.
- Didsbury - Fletcher Moss (Hydes)
- Back street pub, behind the Royal Oak, that was formerly the Albert and was tastefully refurbished and extended a few years ago. The front area retains a traditional feel; at the rear the pub opens out into a conservatory. A little off the beaten track of the Didsbury "circuit" and therefore maintains much more of a pub atmosphere. Unusually for a Didsbury pub has its own small car park.
- Didsbury - Gateway (J. D. Wetherspoon)
- Landmark 1930s roadhouse just over the Stockport boundary on Kingsway in East Didsbury, opposite the new "Star City" cinema complex. In 2011 it was sold by Hydes to Wetherspoon's, who carried out a tasteful refurbishment which makes it more "pubby" than most of their outlets, with a variety of separate areas rambling around the central bar counter, and even retaining some bench seating. Unusually for a Wetherspoon pub, it even has a car park.
- Didsbury - Royal Oak (Marston's)
- Multi-roomed pub in the middle of Didsbury's main shopping street, famous for its cheese lunches, featuring huge quantities and an incredible selection. For many years the licence was held by the legendary Arthur Gosling and the speed and efficiency of the service were unrivalled. Now a Banks's/Marston's managed house but much of its character survives. Impressive collection of old ceramic spirit barrels and theatrical posters. One of the key pubs in the successful campaign in 1999-2000 to prevent Banks's axing Marston's Bitter, which remains by far the biggest seller in the pub.
- Gorton - Waggon & Horses (Holts)
- Big, busy, typically Holts pub on Hyde Road about 400 yards west of the junction with Reddish Road. The interior has been extensively refurbished and is comfortable and not at all "basic". If you were a beer lover living in Reddish you'd think it was worth passing a few pubs to get here.
- Levenshulme - Sidings (Holts)
- Functional but well laid out modern pub with a busy vault and comfortable lounge that often features live music, karaoke etc. at weekends. When originally built could well have won CAMRA's award for "Best New Pub" if the judges had been more concerned about how a pub works rather than the finer aesthetic points of design.
- Moss Nook - Tatton Arms (Robinson's)
- Characterful, multi-roomed former coaching inn with extensive wood panelling. Situated right under the flightpath less than half a mile from the end of the runway at Manchester Airport, it is an ideal location for plane spotting.
- Northenden - Farmer's Arms (Inn Partnership, ex-Greenalls)
- Attractive pub at the west end of the village on Longley Lane, offering guest beers alongside Boddingtons and Greenalls. Small rooms around the bar at the front, and an extended dining area at the rear. Has its own bowling green, a very rare feature in South Manchester.
- Dunham Woodhouses - Vine (Samuel Smith)
- Rambling, cottage-style pub set back from the road in this village near the Dunham Massey estate. The feel of the area is very much that of rural Cheshire but it is just on the Trafford side of the border. Pleasant, multi-roomed interior with extensive use of wood. Sam's usual incredibly low prices.
- Flixton - Railway Tavern (Samuel Smith)
- A long, low, whitewashed pub tucked away off the beaten track on the western side of Flixton in a location that realistically would not see any passing trade. It demonstrates the company’s customary respect for internal layout and fittings, and their keen prices. Much of the interior gives the impression of being little changed since the 1950s. There’s a traditional vault on the right, a small “saloon bar” with a curved wooden bar counter and a quarry-tiled floor, and a spacious lounge on the left with extensive bench seating which may in the past have been opened out from smaller rooms. It gives the impression of being popular with older regulars. No food is served.
- Halebarns - Bull's Head (Robinson's)
- Smart, comfortable pub in a prosperous commuter village, that has been impressively refurbished in a generally traditional style. Offers good food, and accommodation in an adjoining lodge. As this refurb has been so well done, it is a pity that Hydes have decided to turn their nearby Unicorn into "Corban's Old Winery and Bar" which is very much lacking in pub character.
- Timperley - Quarry Bank (Hydes)
- Large pub with its own bowling green situated on Bloomsbury Lane just off the village centre. Extensively refurbished to include a dining area at the rear, but retains a traditional vault and comfortable lounge seating at the front. The entrance to the car park is on Grove Lane to the rear of the pub.
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