There’s something about a pub crawl that makes you feel almost virtuous. After all, you’re really working for your ale. In fact, with all that exercise and orienteering, you could almost be running a marathon. Here are our favourite pub crawls in the UK and Ireland: they’re not for the fainted-hearted – or weak-of-stomach – and if you end up crawling home, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
The Seven-Legged, Nottingham
This annual Nottingham-based extravaganza has a dedicated following, and a large one at that. Made up of seven bars – and purported to be the largest student bar crawl in the world, as more than 6000 students took part last year – the aim is to remain standing. Teams of six, all in matching fancy dress, are tied together, while a seventh member is charged with dashing to the bar. Venues include Oceana and Gatecrasher, with the route changing each year.
Newquay Mile, Newquay
A surfer favourite that’s best undertaken in summer, booze-swillers stumble between 12 Cornwall pubs and bars, starting at The Fort Inn in Fore Street and finishing at Berties Bar in East Street. Fun facts along the way: the Towan Blystra takes its name from Newquay’s first written reference in the 14th century, and Skinner’s has a great selection of ales from its own brewery.
The Mumbles Mile, Wales
This nine pit-stop pub crawl in Mumbles near Swansea is a Welsh institution. Once a haunt of poet Dylan Thomas, the seaside stretch of road is perfect for lazy weekend crawlers. Start at The White Rose in Newton Road, and end in The Pilot in Mumbles Road. Must be enjoyed with a plate of Welsh Rarebit.
Temple Bar, Dublin
There’s no shortage of good ‘craic’ in Dublin, or ‘Publin’ as it’s often termed. For a boozy bonanza of epic proportions, just follow the locals as they sway in and out of pubs around the Temple Bar area of the city. Notable spots are the Palace Bar – unspoilt by the passage of time – and The Foggy Dew for the live music, but make sure you end up in Dublin’s oldest pub, The Brazen Head. The coach house was first made a public boozing spot in 1198.
Rose Street Challenge, Edinburgh
If you like a little history with your beer, Edinburgh is your perfect destination. Tucked behind the famous Princes Street, Rose Street’s 20 or so pubs are conveniently within staggering distance of one another. The Abbotsford boasts beautiful Edwardian décor, and the Auld Hundred is one of the oldest bars in the city, dating back to 1800. This year-round challenge is a favourite with sports fans, who endeavour to have a drink in every pub on the street.
TransPennine Pub Crawl, Yorkshire and Lancashire
Making good use of Britain’s railways, this pub crawl demands you hop off the train at each of the eight stops along the route from Manchester Victoria to Batley (with a change in Huddersfield mid-way), and enjoy a different pint in the pubs and small breweries near – or in – the stations. Crawlers start in Stalybridge’s Buffet Bar and end in Batley’s Cellar Bar. Try it on a Saturday if you’re looking for some companionship!
Oban Pub Crawl, Scotland
Although it’s dubbed the ‘Seafood Capital of Scotland’, the locals know it’s Oban’s distilled whisky that sets them apart. But even if a wee dram isn’t your tipple, this crawl can’t fail to impress. Overlooked by the mountains of Morvern and Ardgour, drinkers attempt to fit in as many pubs as possible. There’s no set route, but seven is the minimum for free swag – if you collect a ‘passport’ in the first bar that you visit and get it stamped in every pub, you get a free T-shirt at your last stop.
UK’S QUIRKIEST PUBS
With a bar that measures just 15ft by 7ft, The Nutshell in Bury St Edmunds holds the Guinness World Record title for the smallest pub in Britain. Squeeze in and check out the eccentric décor, which includes a mummified cat and an aeroplane propeller. (thenutshellpub.co.uk)
The Mermaid Inn in Rye, East Sussex, serves up spirits in more ways than one. Claiming to be ‘Britain’s Most Haunted Pub’, it’s allegedly home to two separate pairs of duelists, a couple who sit on the end of guests’ beds, countless spirit smugglers and a dead servant girl or two. (mermaidinn.com)
Although it dates back to 1242, in the Fifties The Bear in Oxford introduced a tradition of cutting off gentlemen’s ties as they walked through the door. The walls display more than 4500 snippets – in return, the owners of the ties were given half a pint. (6 Alfred Street, Oxford, OX1 4EH)
No need to barge to the bar: unless you’re in one that is. Canal House Bar in Nottingham is built over the canal itself – you have to walk via a footbridge over the water to get to the bar. Great for summer drinking and watching the boats go by; it’s common to see canal-boat owners pull up inside for a pint. (canalhousebar.co.uk)