- Julian Tarrant-Boyce
Moor the Merrier - Afternoon tipple at Two Bridges Hotel
Well here I am again on the “Moor the Merrier” beer blogging trail and what could be nicer than a pleasant journey out to the Two Bridges Hotel near Princetown. It’s situated in a beautiful setting with some of the most stunning landscape of Dartmoor, and around one mile away from the rather eerie Wistman’s Wood, a walk which I would definitely encourage you to take.
As you approach from the Princetown direction you can’t miss The Two Bridges nestling beside the beautiful River Dart, with its own bridge across to the entrance of the hotel.
There has been an Inn on this site for over two century’s now with some debate in the 19th century as to whether it should be called the “Saracen’s Head”, a familiar name for pubs at the time, or the perhaps more apt “Two Bridges”. The Two Bridges was originally the brainchild of Francis Buller who carefully chose the spot where roads from Tavistock, Ashburton and Moretonhampstead all met.
As you enter the Two Bridges Hotel you immediately feel the sumptuous but unpretentious surroundings with various leather armchairs and the numerous antique artefacts around you. Truly a quintessential Dartmoor hostelry.
Having approached the bar I inspected the beers on offer and looking at the selection of real ales, and noting that the Two Bridges Hotel is in the same private ownership as Dartmoor Brewery I was pleased to see a good range of Dartmoor Brewery ales. Not only did they have Jail Ale at 4.8% and Dartmoor IPA at 4% but they also had their seasonal 'winter warmer' “Dragon’s Breath”. Dragon’s Breath at 4.4% is flavoured with treacle, deep ruby brown in colour, rich and full bodied and with an after taste of morello cherries and is an unusually flavoursome beer. As it’s only available for a few short months over the winter it was a rare and pleasant find indeed!
The Two Bridges Hotel bar is ‘Cask Marque’ accredited which, for anybody who may not know denotes that the venue has passed some of the highest standards following independent inspection to ensure that the ale you receive is of the highest quality.
I ordered a G&T for my other half, Lisa (I am still trying to educate her on Real Ale!), and a Dragon’s Breath for myself. The pint was expertly poured by Natasha who was very pleasant and chatty whilst serving us. She genuinely took pride in her work and as the Dragon’s Breath had reached the end of the barrel she refused to serve me a pint until she had changed the barrel. Rather than keep me waiting she kindly offered to bring it over to my table when she had served it from a nice new and fresh barrel – now that’s a level of service you don’t get every day at other establishments!
As we settled down to enjoy our drinks in the busy the lounge area, it was great to see couples having a quiet drink, people perusing the Sunday papers, families enjoying quality time together and dog walkers taking a well earned rest after perhaps a morning or lunchtime walk.
As the afternoon progressed and the main bar area became less busy Lisa and I decided to move to a spot next to the fire. There is nothing more quintessential on a cold November’s day than sitting beside a real fire and the Two Bridges didn’t disappoint, we had the choice of two fires burning in the main bar area so it certainly wasn’t cold! Whilst it had quietened down enough to afford us a seat by the fire it was still fairly busy with the whole area exuding an atmosphere afforded to country pub on a lazy Sunday afternoon. In fact,so much so that I didn’t want to move as I was enjoying watching the world go by. Lisa and I both had to get ready for dinner (you can read about that later) so we both finally managed to peel ourselves away from the fires and up to our room to put our gladrags on.
I’m lucky to have been to Two Bridges Hotel a number of times over recent years for events ranging from special birthday events with an evening meal and overnight stay, morning coffee meetings to Sunday lunch followed by a stroll to Wistman’s Wood. I can’t think of a nicer place for atmosphere, great beer, food and accommodation, it truly is quintessential Dartmoor.
The Two Bridges Hotel is operated by Warm Welcome Hotels and a 'Warm Welcome' is certainly what you receive as Lisa and I can testify ......You could do far worse, whatever the occasion, than Two Bridges Hotel.
About Julian Tarrant-Boyce (aka known as Mr Dartmoor Accommodation)
Julian’s mis-spent youth was spent working behind the bar at his friend, Ricks, pub in Plymouth. This was a step into the unknown but along the way he learnt a few things about beer (and the people that drink it, but that is a different story)
Whilst Julian will drink lager, if forced, he is not really what you would call a “lager drinker” always preferring a pint of bitter.
His long standing partner in crime and now fellow Dartmoor Real Ale Trail ‘Moor the Merrier’ blogger, Mr Rick O’Shay ribbed him for drinking lager in his pub. Rick’s pub prided itself on serving a proper northern pint of John Smiths straight from the cask (no not cream flow!), complete with a thick creamy head that followed it all the way down the glass. Having been persuaded to try it Julian found he (more than) quite liked it and there starts the adventure into the unknown!
In his younger years Julian spent time in around London the South East in search of “a decent pint”. He found there were plenty of pubs that served a ‘nice’ pint but then again there were plenty that didn’t but what he discovered on his journey was a taste for a proper Real Ale instead of a simple pint of bitter. On relocating to Dartmoor, now some nine years ago, he was delighted to find the plethora of decent Real Ales to sample in the local pubs, he tells me he is still working his way through the pubs on the trail and the beers on offer, and enjoying every moment!