The Golden Lion

The Golden Lion, Frodsham, Cheshire WA6 7AR

A Georgian street-corner pub on the attractive main street of this small, prosperous market town. It’s a Sam Smith’s pub with their usual low prices and characteristic down-to-earth clientele. The interior has been opened out over the years but still has a variety of areas around the central servery including a games room. I remember it from the 1970s when it had a tiny public bar right in the corner on the apex of the pub. Various shades of brown dominate in the decor. Basic food has intermittently been served over the years, but I’m not sure of the current situation. The Bear’s Paw opposite is an impressive sandstone building that claims to date from 1632, but sadly has been stripped of most of its internal character.

The Black Horse

The Black Horse, Clapton-in-Gordano, Somerset BS20 7RH

A very old pub, allegedly dating back to the 14th century, tucked away in a narrow village lane close to, but not directly approachable from, the M5. The L-shaped interior has been slightly opened out but retains a wholly traditional atmosphere, with brasses and old wooden settles and a stone-flagged floor. The main bar is dominated by a massive fireplace surmounted by a collection of vintage firearms.

It still has its Courage signing, but now offers a range of beers including Butcombe Bitter, Otter Bitter and Bath Ales Gem together with Courage Best on both gravity and handpump, together with a couple of traditional ciders. I saw old boys in here drinking bright orange cloudy cider on a Monday lunchtime, which must be a good sign. Food is mainly snacks together with a couple of daily specials – it hasn’t been allowed to become a dining pub.

I will be quite honest - this pub is nearly 200 miles away from me, and I have only been there a couple of times, but I don’t think I’ve been in any other that comes closer to my personal vision of the ideal pub.

(Amended 23 September 2016 to replace the original StreetView image with my own recent photo. The pub is thankfully just as good as ever.)

The Harrington Arms

The Harrington Arms, Gawsworth, Cheshire SK11 9RJ

An old farmhouse pub situated in a pretty village just down the road from the church and half-timbered Gawsworth Hall. The interior has been smartened up a little from the totally unspoilt original, but still retains a number of small rooms. The parlour on the left with its quarry-tiled floor and long tables and settles is especially characterful. Another room to the rear has a piano. It’s a Robinson’s tied house offering Hatters Mild, Unicorn and Dizzy Blonde. Food is served but doesn’t dominate to the exclusion of all else. The StreetView image shows it bathed in glorious winter sunshine.