REAL ale lovers snapped up the chance to join a bus-led Hop and Grain Ale Trail, which toured Rossendale, Todmorden and Burnley. The initiative, which was a first for Lancashire, saw more than 350 people buying tickets for £12, which entitled them to hop on and off a succession of buses that toured a circular route from noon to 11pm. One of the departure points was Northern Whisper, next to Rawtenstall Market on Newchurch Road.
Events manager Michael Ormerod said: “I was approached by Hop and Grain Events Ltd and asked whether we were interested in taking part in as they have held these in different parts of the country. At Northern Whisper we sold 84 tickets with people hopping on the buses are different times of the day.
“We are delighted to have played a part in bringing 350 to Rossendale to see what a beautiful area the Valley is. Recently we welcomed people from Morecambe, Leeds and eight people from Bolton. This trail has been so successful we will also be holding another organised by the same company in September.”
Every person on the trail was given a pink wristband so they could hop on the buses and celebrating his 40th birthday was James Wright of Newchurch.
James and his wife Rebecca, along with his brother Chris and his wife Charlie from Somerset, hopped on the bus at Northern Whisper. He said: “It is my 40th birthday on Wednesday and we decided to start the celebrations early.
What appealed about this was we are not restricted to train times and we will get to see some new places that we have never been to before.”
Rebecca said: “I like the idea of being able to get on and off at different locations and stay as long as we want and then be able to get on a bus to take us back to our departure point.”
Friends Marcus and Suzanne Edwards, from North Wales, and Dave and Jenny Toner, from Runcorn, founded Hop and Grain Events Ltd a year ago.
Marcus said: “We don’t include chains as we want to promote locally based pubs. Real ale is a massive market and we see this as a way of boosting trade in the industry. It is about having a fun experience and we encourage people to drink responsibly.”
As well as Northern Whisper the trail went to The Crown in Bacup, the Golden Lion and the Hare and Hounds in Todmorden, The Kettledrum Inn, Cliviger, The Talbot in Burnley and The White Bull and The Masons’ Arms in Crawshawbooth.
Story by Catherine Smyth