James May and Oz Clarke’s TransPennine Real Ale Trial had an undeniable impact on the amount of people piling onto trains from Stalybridge to Batley to follow in their footsteps. Yet you can have just as much fun travelling only half an hour from Sheffield into the Derbyshire countryside. Although we can’t honestly claim to […]

James May and Oz Clarke’s TransPennine Real Ale Trial had an undeniable impact on the amount of people piling onto trains from Stalybridge to Batley to follow in their footsteps. Yet you can have just as much fun travelling only half an hour from Sheffield into the Derbyshire countryside. Although we can’t honestly claim to be its originators, my best friend and I have perfected the art of the Edale to Sheffield real ale trail over the past three years and now we want to share this wonderful experience with you in preparation for summer.

All you need is a return ticket from Sheffield to Edale, £30-£40 for food and drinks and some sensible footwear, otherwise there will be blisters. Hop on the Northern Rail service to Manchester from Sheffield station and away you go.

The furthest out you’ll be heading is Edale. It’s good to get there an hour early – about 11am – that way you can explore the cutesy little village and play with the scale model of the Pennines in the tourist centre before heading to The Old Nag’s Head for its 12pm opening time. A real hikers’ hangout, you can enjoy your first hand-pulled pint of local ale here, along with a proper pub meal to line your stomach for what’s to come.

Next up is Hope. You’re met with a couple of choices here, the best of which we believe is The Old Hall Hotel. The friendly bar staff will often dish up a selection of crisps, nuts and pretzels to go nicely with your pint of Robinson’s Dizzy Blonde from Stockport, our hot tip for this one.

The third stop is Bamford, where following an admittedly long hike up Main Road, you’ll land at The Angler’s Rest (despite, to the best of our knowledge, there not being a fish pond anywhere in the vicinity). We recommend a crisp and fruity pint of Thwaites Wainwright (4.1% if you’re conscious) and a packet of sea salt and vinegar Seabrook’s out on the patio. A warning from experience – do not dwell too long. You really don’t want to have to charge back down the hill for the train.

The Little John Hotel is the most logical choice in Hathersage. The regulars are definitely better pool players than you, so don’t challenge them, but you can still refresh yourself with a beautiful pint from Thornbridge or Kelham Island, or something a bit more local and adventurous. This is a particularly interesting dram shop, as unlike your typical rustic English pub, The Little John is a cool, contemporary joint that stands as a particular favourite among cider-loving accomplices.

After another short train journey you arrive in Grindleford, where The Maynard Arms is definitely the most unusual of the places you’ll enjoy a pint. A beautiful old four-star hotel with a picturesque garden, you can almost feel dirty doing this here. Abbeydale Brewery’s Deception on tap is certainly an early sign that you’re almost back on home turf now, and if you’ve lucked out with the weather there’s nothing finer than sitting out back watching the sun go down over the Derbyshire hills.

Travelling back through Britain’s longest non-electrified railway tunnel (thanks Wikipedia) gets you to Dore and Totley station, and incidentally the longest walk you’ll have to endure for a drink, and your second wellearned pub meal. The Hare & Hounds on Church Lane is the best option. Although it’s a chain pub, it’s a long way from The Banker’s Draft and is Cask Marque certified, meaning great ales at great prices.

Back on the train you’ll barely have time to sit down before arriving back on Sheffield’s familiar territory, where there are infinite possibilities. The Sheffield Tap, for those who are too knackered for more trekking, and The Globe serve the beautiful Farmer’s Blonde at a price you really can’t dispute. The Brown Bear, just off Tudor Square, is another option for cheap and cheerful selections from Samuel Smith’s.

What you do next is completely up to you. We’re often too shagged out by this point to think about much more than jumping on the 53 and heading home, but it is only about 10pm and the Leadmill isn’t that far away. All we ask is that you don’t revert back to Fosters now you’ve been on the good stuff all day.

For detailed descriptions of how to get to each pub mentioned above, please get in touch with the Now Then editor.

Our real ale supporters this month: Kelham Island Tavern, Delaneys Music Bar, The Rising Sun, The Riverside Bar, The Three Tuns, Shakespeares, The Red Deer, Dram Shop, Abbeydale Brewery.

Photo by Nathan Gibson

Jordan Lee Smith.