Sunday, 24 October 2010
A Walk in the Country
I spent a most enjoyable day out walking in the pleasant Kent countryside today, in the company of two friends and fellow CAMRA members. We walked out to a pub a little off the beaten track, and one that we don't often get the chance to visit. The pub in question was the Chafford Arms, in the small village of Fordcombe, roughly four miles from Tunbridge Wells.
It was from the latter town that we set off, shortly before midday, in the bright late October sunshine. Our walk took us up over Tunbridge Wells Common and then on into the suburb of Rusthall. From here our route took us across some undulating country, part patchwork fields and part woodland. We reached the pub around half one, having built up a bit of a thirst and also quite an appetite.
Things were somewhat different to when I last visited the Chafford. I'd walked there on that occasion, but that was back in June as part of the Wealdway Walk, and temperatures were in the low 30's. This time the weather was much more pleasant for walking, which probably explains why we made such good time in getting there.
The Chafford is unusual these days in still possessing a public bar. This was a bonus for walkers like ourselves, as it meant there was no need to remove our boots, (they weren't that muddy, but in a carpeted bar we would have felt obliged to take them off). The bar was fairly full, but most of the other diners were in the adjacent saloon, allowing us to grab a table without any difficulty. For drinks we had the choice of Larkins Traditional or Harvey's Best. My companions tried both, but I stuck to the low gravity (3.4%), but full-flavoured Larkins; surely the ideal lunchtime pint?
We enjoyed the home-cooked food served up in the pub; my fish pie being especially tasty and filling, but the main purpose of our visit was to present landlord Paul and landlady Jackie with their Licensee's Pack informing them that the Chafford Arms has been selected for, and is in, the 2011 Good Beer Guide. The couple were obviously pleased with the pub's inclusion, something that is in my opinion, well deserved.
We took a slightly longer route back to Tunbridge Wells; arriving in Rusthall just as the heavens opened. We decided there was time for a quick farewell pint, so headed down to the Pantiles area of town. We called in at the Sussex Arms where we were pleased to see Skinner's Betty Stoggs on sale. It made a good pint to end on before catching the train back to Tonbridge and home.