On a week long visit to the Lakes there's sure to be at least one day when the feet are too sore to drag you over another set of fells. Seeing as crag rat Rainer isn't too keen on paddling about on Derwentwater we went for another kind of day out that is sure to make your mouth water - a visit to the Jennings brewery in Cockermouth.
To start with the bus journey was worthwhile in itself, giving us good views of the fells Back'o Skiddaw as well as across the lake to Barf, Lord's Seat and co. After a short wander around Cockermouth we returned to the brewery just in time for the tour. To say that the rest of the tour visitors were a bunch of oddballs is putting it mildly. Then again they are probably saying the same about us so there you go. We got to taste and smell the hops and barley in raw state, and see the brewing process from start to finish.
The brewery itself is a fine old building and it was a pleasure to walk around knowing that they had been brewing from that location for over 130 years. The location of the brewery between the two rivers Derwent and Cocker was perfect too, although this was unfortunately not the case when the flooding hit Cockermouth in 2009. I was glad to read that the brewery quickly recovered and with the addition of a tea room I'm sure the brewery experience is better than ever.
The best was saved til last, when we entered the brewery's own pub, The Old Cooperage.The tour promised two half pint samples of Jennings' finest, but luck was on our side and Claire, Rainer and I were not only treated to three each, but I was also able to man the pumps myself and pull some drinks, great stuff.
I was saddened to read about the flood damage suffered by the town of Cockermouth, and on my next visit in Summer 2010 evidence of the events was still clearly visible. Also visible was the resilience of the local folk and their ability to get on with things. Claire and I participated in the small way we could, working as volunteers at the Cock Rock festival which raised money for Cockermouth Mountain Rescue.
So if you are in the Lakes on a rainy day, or your feet are complaining about yet another fell excursion, a trip to the Jennings brewery comes highly recommended.
FOOTNOTE: I received an email from Jennings saying they enjoyed this blog, so there you go, recommendation can hardly come from higher!