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Three Stags Heads Inn, Wardlow, BUXTON, SK17 8RW [Map]
One of those absolutely classic pubs with an enthusiastic landlord and landlady that make me realise why I go to a lot of effort to find great pubs. It's dead easy to find as it's on the A623 at the junction of the B6465 up and left a bit of Bakewell on the map. It's way up there on the moors of the Peak District and although they don't have accommodation, if you call the pub they'll give you details of the very basic campsite that lies 50 yards to the east of the pub. When I say basic, errrrrr, there's a cold tap and a toilet, and errrrr, a field. However, there is a garage just over the road (where you can park) and an excellent cafe that does wonderful big fry-ups to help you get going in the morning.
Well the pub itself is listed on CAMRA's National Inventory of heritage pubs for being, like the campsite, very basic. And if you walk in you'll see why. It's wonderful, just a simple bar (photographed below), a few tables, stools and chairs and some plates on the wall. If you sit on one of the antique settles, do check first, or you may give one of the resident dogs a shock. And it may well be the big black lurcher, so be warned! The floor is made of bare flagstones and the bar is kept warm by a range. There's also a room to the right where you can hear live folk and Irish music of a Saturday night, or play pub games if you like.
They've a small but still great selection of food on offer including game served on home-made plates made in the barn around the back. The landlord also bakes all the bread that they serve. There's a dining room to the left that you can book if you wish.
They sell a good range of beers brewed by the Abbeydale brewery in Sheffield. If you're not driving you must try the Black Lurcher. It's abv 8% and brewed specially for the pub and is named after, you've got it, the pub's black lurcher! It's a hefty beer and for the price excellent value for money. If you manage more than 2 pints of it, and you're camping up the road, the landlady will be more than willing to give you a litre and a half of water to drink before you go to off to bed. Believe me, you'll need it! They've also lots of British and foreign bottled beers. Quite a few seemed to be as strong as the Lurcher, so watch out!
Basically you've got to go there. Pack your tent, go for a walk (the very scenic Monsal Dale is just to the south), pitch your tent, have an evening meal there, drink lurcher, listen to the music, chat to some locals/other visitors, and you won't leave early. Oh yes, and when you do leave, make sure that you ask Pat for that bottle of water!