Over the years I’ve spent some happy evenings in The Greys inn, Embleton. but it’s got to be over ten years ago since I last went in. Thankfully it’s not changed much. The pool table’s gone, replaced by a small restaurant in the back room. Apart from that, the only changes are superficial. Like there’s no pale green or beige cum off white shades of Farrow and Ball. It’s around three in the afternoon and there’s a couple of older local blokes reading the complimentary newspapers and a few families with kids and dogs eating. Wey hey! It’s still a proper pub and you can tell the locals use it because there’s the fixture list for Embleton cricket club and a notice about a charity golf day on the wall. That’s another thing that impresses up here, golf is a working man’s game with little of the golf club snobbery that prevails at more southerly courses. Golfers please note, the nearby Dunstanburgh castle golf club is a real traditional links treat. There is some good accommodation in Embleton and it makes a good base for a golf weekend.
On the bar they had Alnwick Amber ale (3.0%), Tyne Bank Pacifica (4 %), Mordue Workie ticket (4.5%) and Hadrian border Secret Kingdom (4.3%). Coming up were Tempest Armadillo, Alnwick IPA and Alnwick Canny brew. Between us, we went for Pacifica and Workie ticket. The Pacifica name was a definite clue as there was a lot of American west coast hops going on in my glass. The young lass behind the bar explained it nicely, to a customer that it was bitter, hoppy and citrussy. The beer was well kept, well pulled and someone knew what they were doing in the cellar. The staff were a touch different to most places, they’d been busy judging by the food debris they were tidying up, but they weren’t flustered and they chatted to us as they worked, recalling past licensees, they’d obviously been born and bred in the village. It was this genuine local connection and ethos that makes the Greys stand out above the rest. It’s a proper Northumbrian local, okay it caters for the visitor, but it retains it’s originality. This is a plea to future owners, developers, people wanting to make a fast buck – please don’t mess with pubs like this. The current owners reside mainly in London, but retain their very strong local connection, hence improvements have been superficial and sympathetic. This, coupled with the social housing in the village, that’s corporation houses to you and me, means that both village and pub remain real (as opposed to artificial and plastic like other villages mentioned in previous Northumbria posts).
My tip, get the bus to Craster, have a wander round, pick up some traditional kippers at Robson’s smokehouse maybe a pint in the Jolly Fisherman beer garden, walk up the coast to Dunstanburgh castle, turn inland up Sea Lane, Embleton. You can get reasonably priced soup, sandwiches and drinks (no real ale) at the very nice and friendly Dunstanburgh castle golf club. Then finish off in The Greys inn and reflect on the rugged unspoiled landscape and romantic castle over a decent pint or two. It doesn’t get much better than this for me.