Crewe & Harpur, Swarkestone

A spot of cycling today, along the Cloud Trail.

Starting near Derby city centre, the Cloud Trail follows a nice path alongside the River Derwent before turning south on the Derby Canal Path to the Trent and Mersey Canal at Swarkestone. The main part of the Cloud Trail then begins, a dismantled railway path which will take you to the village of Worthington and Cloud Quarry.

Along the way you will cross the Grade II listed Trent Viaduct near Melbourne (not that one). Flat, well-surfaced and mostly traffic-free, this route is excellent for families and novice cyclists. This ride forms part of National Route 6 which runs all the way from London to the Lake District.

We started our ride at Worthington, where there is a small car park at the start of the Cloud Trail. It’s a fairly flat route all the way through to Swarkestone, with just a few ups and downs as you cross the A42 and then plop on to the A5132 to get to the pub for lunch.

We’ve been to the Crewe & Harpur before, doing a similar bike ride. Last time, there was nowhere to park the bikes, so they ended up chained to a lamp post on the “beer patio” at the back (there’s a proper beer garden at the other side). This time I’m happy to report that they have now put in a proper cycle rack (toast rack style) so that you can lock your bikes up whilst you go for something to eat and/or drink. This is a very sensible decision, given their proximity to a National Cycle Route trail, and with plenty of road cyclists to be seen in the area too.

On to drink. This may shock you. It’s a pint of lime and soda. But I’d rather have that than any average beer. The Crewe is a Marston’s pub, no surprise round these parts. And that usually means various beers from the Marston’s empire, which are usually fairly reliable. But today, the 4 pumps were a sad sight, with just Pedigree and Hobgoblin on, and the other 2 sadly empty. I’ll pass thanks.

On to lunch. Loads of options to choose from, and happily this is not a pub that puts the shutters down at 2pm sharp, serving food all day, with various different menus to choose from. We chose from the light bites and sandwiches menu, perfect for lunches. You’ll probably know by now that I do like a classic club sandwich, and this was very much that. Three good slices of toasted white farmhouse bloomer, with tasty bacon and chicken, lettuce, very flavoursome tomatoes and mayo. Good thin fries too (skin on). Some of the other sandwiches and focaccias also look good.

Mrs MOFAD opted for the “tiger tops”, which are fries mixed with sweet potato fries, salad, and then topped with various things, such as the classic nacho topping mix of salsa, guacamole, sour cream, cheese and jalapenos. You can also choose pulled pork and beef chilli, piri piri chicken and sour cream or buttermilk chicken with cheese and sriracha mayo (very on trend!)

Mrs MOFAD opted for chicken tikka with a yoghurt and mint dressing, and this was very nice (when the yoghurt and mint dressing finally arrived at the table). A pleasant and fragrant level of spice and a nice selection of leaves (no tired and limp iceberg here).

The biggest bonus? Food served on plates! Although Mrs MOFAD’s was served on some kind of 1940s enamel bowl, there was not a slate or a chopping board in sight!

The Crewe & Harpur is a cracking pub, well worth the short detour from the Cloud Trail to get to if you’re out cycling this way. Good food and friendly staff. Hopefully they’ll have some other beers on when you visit (just as we were leaving, Banks’s Lion’s Roar was being pulled through).