|Colourful exterior at The Bedford|
The Bedford can either be our first port of call, or our last. It all depends on your mood and capacity for beer, as this veritable pub offers what is undoubtedly the largest selection of cask ales in the town. Either way, it is virtually impossible to miss the imposing Bedford situated at the top of the High Street, on the corner of the road bridge over the railway which leads past the station approach.
|Staff at Bedford with CAMRA Pub of the Year, runner-up certificate|
|Rear entrance to the Compasses|
Like the Bedford, the Compasses is also owned by Greene King, but serves a more limited range. With several interconnected rooms and separate drinking areas, the Compasses offers a chance to escape the crowds and enjoy a few moments of quiet contemplation. This is not to say that the pub doesn’t get busy; it is just that its layout gives itself to small and sometimes intimate groups. I remember the pub from its days under Whitbread, and as a comfortable and traditional alehouse it hasn’t changed all that much. It is therefore well worth popping in if you are in the area.
|Grove Tavern, Little Mount Sion|
Carry on a short distance down Little Mount Sion towards the Grove Tavern; the next pub on our itinerary and another contender for the title of Tunbridge Well’s oldest pub. This tiny and cosy “L”-shaped pub attracts its own loyal crowd of regulars, but also offers a friendly welcome to visitors from further a field. With an open fire in winter and some lively conversation at the bar, visitors are soon made to feel at home here. The Grove is basically a drinkers and a sports enthusiast’s pub, but is none the worse for that. Harvey’s Sussex Best, plus Taylor’s Landlord are the regular beers, with a couple of guests normally on sale alongside.
|The Mount Edgcumbe|
Alternatively, treat yourself to a taxi and you will then arrive via the rough-track which leads down from the top of the common at Mount Ephraim. I haven’t a huge amount to say about the Mount Edgcumbe. I have eaten there several times in the past, but that was under different management, back when the place was known as La Galoche. I can’t vouch for the food now, but the pub part of this imposing Georgian building is quite interesting with a section of the bar area cut into the rock, forming a sort of “cave”.
|"Cave Bar", Mount Edgcumbe|