Saturday did not start well (*understatement*) with Scotland losing against England at the Rugby World Cup - could the day get any worse ? Well the weather forecast for central Scotland was shockingly bad (compared to the heatwave in the rest of the UK), but the Tappit Hen in Dunblane was holding a weekend long beer festival and this meant I could pop in before, and possibly after, a walk to one of my favourite country pubs, The Sheriffmuir Inn.
View Dunblane to Sheriffmuir in a larger map
Outward transport was as follows:-
Train : Glasgow Queen Street to Stirling (Aberdeen train)
Stirling to Dunblane (after 15 min wait)
The Tappit Hen is easy enough to find - head for the towering Dunblane Cathedral and it's directly across the road.
I'd been to one of their mini-festivals a few years back and the beer was good, but the folky-type music and singing (not normally my thing) had been excellent. The pub is now part of the ever growing Belhaven/GK 'Empire' and there had been rumours that the beer festival had been postponed from its normal place in early summer due to Belhaven pressure, so I was wary that the festival and the pub could had gone somewhat downhill. I walked in, took in the fact that the pub hadn't really changed at all, had a look at the beer list and heaved a sigh of relief. At last - a good pub beer festival from Belhaven/GK - it is possible! Actually when I looked at the list again it was quite impressive, not new-wave craft beer stunning, but I couldn't make out one (even in disguise) Belhaven/GK beer and there was only one Scottish beer, the superb Tryst Raj IPA.
I had the Green Jack Canary Pale Ale and the Box Steam Chuffin Ale with a couple bowls of differing nuts - thankfully there isn't a full gastro-pub kitchen, and that's good to see - there are enough decent places to eat in Dunblane if you want a large meal.
There wasn't going to be any music until later on in the day so I decided to start on my walk - assuming the rain would go away at some point (ha - not a chance). The walk up to Sheriffmuir started in a housing estate, and lead into a fairly steep climb into the moorland and man-made forests, but it was pretty easy to follow, albeit muddy as hell. Where the path connects to the road a few hundred yards from the Sherrifmuir Inn, there is a monument to the Battle of Sheriffmuir (1715) and in particular to the Clan Macrae, who fought there. It's certainly well maintained even though it's a coupe of miles out from Dunblane.
The Sheriffmuir Inn is a smart white, isolated building, originally a Drovers Inn.
It has a casual bar area and a separate multi-leveled restaurant area which was pretty full when I arrived at the back-end of lunchtime. There are stone floors, open fires and lots of slate and ironwork furniture - it's all quite tastefully done and a nice place to chill out (or dry out).
There are also tables outside which weren't being used today - except possibly by any passing dolphins. On hand pull were Inveralmond Thrappeldouser and Jarrow Bitter (nice and crisp), and there was also Erdinger on draught for those missing the Oktoberfest.
It was then a matter of returning to Dunblane via the road - missing out the mud paths - for a quick pint of Ilkley Black Summit in the Hen before wading to the train station (did I mention it was wet!).
Train : Dunblane to Glasgow Queen Street