Dorset Pub Stroll
The Piddle Inn, Piddletrenthide, Dorchester DT2 7QF 01300 348468
Published in October ’08
The best pubs keep the feeling of a large communal space to create a sociable ‘buzz’, while at the same time including areas where one can feel more private and peaceful. The Piddle Inn brings off this clever trick and its general ambience is an important part of its appeal.
It also combines popularity as a ‘destination pub’ for visitors from further afield with its role as a genuine local. The village’s football and cricket sides base themselves there, and the pub runs darts and cribbage teams. It even sponsors a local netball team.
There is also a pool table and a popular feature (particularly when we visited during the Beijing Olympics) is the large screen showing Sky Sports. There is live music from time to time, especially during the summer, when it can be accompanied by a barbecue in the garden. Wives may be distressed to learn that there is a poker night once a month, and the pub is also the centre of the Piddle Valley Racing Club, which part-owns racehorses: which part is not specified. The Club is run by Richard and Elsie Mitchell of East Hill Stables.
The Piddle Inn is presided over by Caroline Way, who has worked there for some fifteen years and has seen various owners of this free house; the present owner had the good sense to make her manageress and licensee and she has transformed the pub’s fortunes.
All the beer comes straight from the barrel and the pub holds the Cask Marque. Regularly available are Ringwood and beers from Dorset Piddle Brewery at Piddlehinton, just up the road, which is a comparative newcomer to the Dorset brewing scene but is already making a name for itself.
The emphasis is on fresh, local food; for example most of the meat comes from Genesis Farmers. At one end of the pub is an à la carte restaurant with its own menu, but dishes from it can also be served in the bar. The bar menu is much as one might expect but the quality reflects the amount of trouble that is taken: the burgers, for example, are made on the premises and the Cumberland sausages are made by the butchers at Genesis Farmers to the chef’s specification. An attraction for afternoon walkers is that cream teas and Dorset apple cake are on offer.
The Piddle Inn is open all day from 11.30. Food is served from 12 to 2 and from 6.30 to 9 (9.30 at weekends). The bar menu is available all day at weekends. The access for wheelchairs is easy and there is a lavatory for the disabled.
If you have supped not wisely but too well, the Piddle Inn has three letting rooms to which the AA has given four stars.
Cross the footbridge over the Piddle, which may be reached either from the car park or by coming out of the front door at the other end of the pub and turning right, then right again to follow the stream up to the bridge. Walk along the track on the other side of the bridge for about 100 yards to a gate straight ahead.
Continue through the gate and straight on along a track, following it for the length of two fields. At the far end of the second one, go through the gate, cross a drive and pass a pair of poles carrying power lines on the left. At the next, single pole, bear half-left to strike up the field diagonally and reach the fence on the far side about halfway up the field. Here double back to the left and follow the hedge on the right to the top corner of the field. It has been quite a steep climb, but the views make it worthwhile.
At the top corner of the field, go through a gap in the fence and turn immediately right through a gate. Follow the paved track to a junction, where turn left. Continue past a wood with a radio mast at the edge of it. In about 150 yards more, the road bends sharply to the right. Immediately after the bend, cross the narrow end of the field on the left and turn left to follow the right-hand field-edge.
Continue along the right-hand edge of successive fields (ignoring forks to the right) until you come down to the gate through which you passed near the beginning of the walk. Turn right through the gate and continue straight ahead to the footbridge and the pub.