I’ve been driving across the flinty moors and down the ancient narrow lanes just below Stoodley Pike to this long, low, rambling pub for years, and like any long-term relationship, I’ve taken it for granted.
It’s comfortable. Consistent. Undemanding. There are no surprises. But these qualities are no reason to dismiss is – in fact every reason to treasure it.
Originally three weaver’s cottages built around 1843, one enterprising occupant applied for a license to trade to keep the Irish navvies busy building the nearby dam fed and watered. Pack horse textile traders travelling west to Manchester weren’t averse to the odd pint either.
Fast forward a few years and you’ll still get well looked after. Old features remain; beams here and there, the original mullions and lovely old stone fireplaces. Otherwise this is as traditional a pub as you’ll find; more gleaming horse brasses than you can shake a stick at, swirly floral carpets and a cracking beer mat collection. The soundtrack is locked into the 80s and buttoned blue velour pads the banquette. But I find this reassuring, and anyway the huge vase of fresh flowers on the bar and the reliably warm welcome more than make up for any concerns about the décor.
Beer monsters will love this place; Tim Taylor’s Landlord and Golden Best are always on with at least one guest beer. There are eight good wines by the glass too. Pub grub classics include firm favourites. The Cumberland sausage dish is so popular owner Mark Ashton orders it by the truck load from his butcher in Bolton. There are four good vegetarian options. There’s no parsimony here, and it’s terrific value.
The Top Brink, Lumbutts, Todmorden, OL14 6JB, 01706 812696, www.topbrink.com. Open for food Mon-Fri 12-2.30pm and 5.30-9.30pm: Saturday 3-10pm, Sunday 12-9.30pm.