Rugby Real Ale Trail

 

This pub route is intended to introduce Rugby, via a twelve-stop real ale trail, to the wealth of real ale its pubs now offer to the discerning drinking public. Rugby is not a large town and this route can easily be walked. The letters relate to the position on the accompanying Real Ale Trail map.

 

Rugby Real Ale Trail – a tour of the Town Centre pubs

 

Starting at the Railway Station, turn right as you leave and follow the road past the Bus Stations, round the left-hand bend into Railway Terrace. Turn right at The Wheeltappers Pub into Albert Street. The first left is Albert Square, and at the end of this on the right you’ll see our first pub – The Seven Stars (A). This Everards Cask pub has up to twelve real ales plus two traditional ciders on handpump. Regular real ales are Everards Tiger, Grainstore Rutland Panther, Grainstore 1050 & Oakham Jeffrey Hudson Bitter (JHB). Rugby Union posters adorn the walls, and coach trips are run to Leicester Tigers home matches.

 

Turning right on leaving the pub, taking care to follow the left-hand fork of the paved area, you then come to The Alexandra Arms (B), in James Street. This is the home to Rugby’s only Brewery – Atomic Ales, with Atomic Strike, Atomic Half Life, Abbeydale Deception & Fuller’s London Pride regularly available among the eight handpumps. The large back room has a pool table, skittles table and a fabulous rock juke-box.

 

Turn left from the Alexandra Arms, walk past the Car Park, then turn left and walk up the path alongside it. Turn right into Castle Street, and then into the Rupert Brooke (C).

This Wetherspoons development, named after a renowned First World War poet, was formerly the Rugby Indoor Market, and has a split level through lounge and an enclosed garden. It enjoys the competitive Wetherspoons prices, and serves a varied food menu from early morning to late evening.

 

Leave the Rupert Brooke through the back door, cross the car park, walk past The Squirrel, cross the road, and follow the main road to the Clock Tower, at the foot of the Pedestrian precinct. Follow the precinct, taking the right-hand fork, which is Sheep Street. On your right you will see The Bull (D), which in yesteryear was a court house, and now serves four real ales. Continuing along Sheep Street you come to The Rugby Hotel. Formerly the Three Horseshoes, this cosy bar serves just one real ale, but offers meals and accommodation that befits the hotel bearing the town’s name.

 


 

Continue to the end of Sheep Street, where you see buildings that are part of Rugby School, dominating the landscape of that part of town. Cross the main road, cross the road, and walk alongside the Rugby School buildings, passing the statue of William Webb Ellis, who’s credited for inventing the worldwide game named after the town, and you’ll see The Raglan Arms (E) across the road. Up to ten real ales are available here, including beers from Abbeydale & Oakham Breweries.

 

Turn left from the Raglan, and follow the gyratory system (Russelheim Road) past the Church, round to the right, and then turn left by Kwik-Fit Tyres. Cross Lawford Road, and you see The Half Moon (F), with three real ales on offer.

 

Re-trace your steps, cross the main road, walk past the William Webb Ellis, the redundant church on the corner, and you come to Rugby Tap (G). To the right is an Off Licence with a wide range of British & Imported Beers & Ciders. To the left is a bar, from which up to six real ales, are dispensed on gravity, and delivered to your table, many from local Breweries featuring Byatt’s, Church End & Purity beers. The quality is such that Rugby CAMRA voted it Pub of the Year for both 2015 & 2016.

 

Leave the Rugby Tap, and turn left back into Sheep Street. Opposite the Rugby Hotel, you see The Lawrence Sheriff (H). Another Wetherspoons pub with the standard offering (see The Rupert Brooke above). Lawrence Sheriff was the founder of Rugby School.

 

Walk through the Lawrence Sheriff, leave by the rear doors, and turn left into the High Street. Across the High Street, walk through Windsor Court, a passageway. Pass a few shops, into Little Church Street, and you find The Merchants Inn (I) to your right.

With 12 real ales on handpump, plus occasional extras by gravity, and a wide range of Belgian beers in addition to traditional cider and perry, this pub should not be missed.

As, arguably, the closest pub to where Webb Ellis first picked up the ball & ran with it, The Merchants is a true Rugby pub, being packed when International fixtures are screened. Serving home-cooked food seven days a week, the walls are adorned with Brewery memorabilia.

 

Turn right from the Merchants, follow the alleyway alongside St Andrew’s Parish Church back to Church Street. Turn right, walk past the Church, leaving the Shopping Centre behind you. When you see the park on your right, cross over to the pink building which is The Squirrel (J). This traditional free-house has a real fire in the winter, and a warm welcome all year round. Mind your head on entering as it’s not the largest of pubs.

Three regularly changing real ales and a weekly acoustic music night are the features of this 18th Century building, which was originally three (very tiny!) rooms.

 

Turn left out of the Squirrel, and follow Church Street (it becomes Clifton Road halfway along) to a large roundabout. First exit to the left, takes you down Murray Road to the Railway Station. If you still thirsty, take the third exit (Lower Hillmorton Road) to the Victoria (K). This sister pub to the Alexandra has two bars – the Public Bar (the first you come to) has darts and pool; while the lounge has two televisions which regularly shows live sport. Ten handpumps include three beers from the home Atomic Brewery,

and a traditional cider on draught.

 

As well as The Rugby Tap; The Alexandra, Merchants, Raglan, Seven Stars & Victoria, have all featured as Rugby CAMRA Pub of the Year, and four of these have gone on to be Warwickshire Pub of the Year.

 

You’ll see from the map that you can do as few or as many of the pubs as you choose, time and capacity permitting. We are justifiably proud of the pubs and real ale in our town, and would suggest multiple visits.

 

Malcolm Harding, February 2017, updated, and adapted from the trail originally devised by Brian Wood in 2012.