After forcing myself to leave The Mason's Arms, I set off on what proved to be quite a long tramp to Stannington, all of five miles I would say, by the winding country roads and former cart-tracks. It was, as the old bloke in the Mason's had said "a canny walk".
Before I had even left Dinnington, however, I was beset with temptation when I had to pass The Bay Horse and the village CIU club, both of which looked to be fine establishments. Never mind, there will always be another day!
The day was really bright and sunny by now, a lovely afternoon for walking, and I much enjoyed the rural scenery on either side of the road. This is barley country, the heavy clay soils of the north favouring that cereal, rather than wheat. Much of the barley used by our brewers is grown here and I rejoiced to see it thriving so well.
I passed a place called Bellasis Bridge, which crosses the River Blyth. Hereabouts there are many "Private" and "Keep out" signs, a peculiarly English obsession. In Italy, farmers and countryfolk are always pleased to see walkers and rarely let you pass without exchanging a few friendly words. In Scotland too you are legally free to walk anywhere, providing you do no damage....but NOT in England.
When I finally arrived in Stannington, I was growing footsore and was glad to call it a day. There, immediately before my rejoicing eyes, was The Ridley Arms, a huge country inn which, like so many such establishments, is more of a restaurant than a pub nowadays. Nevertheless, they didn't try to push any food on me and I was able to buy an excellent pint of Black Sheep Bitter at a reasonable price.
As I said, the place is huge, with many nooks and crannies, interesting artifacts and pictures of local scenes among the decor. There was a very calm and up-market atmosphere and I imagine that it is an ideal place to bring visitors whom you wish to impress for a business meeting or lunch. Having said that, the menu didn't interest me, as I prefer plainer fare. For gourmets, however, I'm sure the place would have a definite appeal.
I sipped my Black Sheep, had another, and enjoyed the rest before catching a bus homewards.