Norwich might not sound like an obvious destination for a weekend away from Cheltenham as it’s not the easiest place to get to but it is a trip worth doing if you like Real Ale ( or “Craft” beers for that matter ).
We left Cheltenham on the Friday morning of Race Week and we decided to head out of town up the A40 towards Oxford, which at least meant we were going against the mad flow of traffic which was tailing back over a mile even at 10am.
The satnav decided that the fastest route was down to London and then back up again which seemed a little mad so with some minor tweaking we managed to persuade it otherwise and so we found ourselves in Woburn at lunch time. Woburn has decided that offering a large free car park is a sensible way to persuade people to stop and have a look round, and it obviously works as there were a lot of people wandering around.
We had lunch in the Caprioli tea rooms which was very enjoyable, before getting back in the car and continuing across country to Norwich.
We were staying in the Premier Inn right in the centre of city on Duke Street, which worked extremely well for exploring the city and its many and varied pubs, and when I say many I mean a serious number : the 2015 City of Ale celebration involves 50 pubs and that is only some of the real ale pubs in the city.
Looking at that list shows that over the weekend we barely scratched the surface of what the city has to offer in terms of pubs and beers. But what was as equally astounding was the fact that pubs selling more than 6 real ales were quite common and some had an extremely impressive range – Fat Cat (12 hand pumps plus gravity), The Duke of Wellington had over 20 beers on hand pump and on gravity and over the course of the weekend none of us had a pint of beer that wasn’t in extremely good condition. Throw in some Bar Billiards at The Kings Head and The White Lion and an excellent curry at Spice Paradise and you have the makings of a good weekend.
But there is more to Norwich than beer – it has a lot of history too and on Saturday morning we went for a long walk which involved doing a large portion of the Riverside walk which mixes the new riverside development ( the ‘Riverside Quarter’ ) near the Novi Sad Friendship bridge 1
with the old further up river near Pulls Ferry, where a stream used to leave the river and was used to transport stone used in the construction of the cathedral, and Cow Tower which got it’s name because they used to catapult cows from it 2
There is, of course, also Mustard and the Coleman’s shop and museum in The Royal Arcade is well worth the visit and you can even try a variety of mustards before buying them.
Actually Norwich has several museums and Stranger’s Hall is a fascinating building and well worth a visit – but check the opening times as the website and the museum seemed to have different ideas on just when they were open.
But we couldn’t spend all the weekend in pubs drinking so on Sunday Morning we went over to Great Yarmouth and went for a walk along beach – it was extremely bracing.