Next stop was the CLARENDON ARMS (Clarendon Street). Part of the Greene King estate, this pub nestling amongst the terraced houses of Clarendon Street not far from Parkers Piece, is first and foremost a local pub. Sausage sandwiches as big as doorsteps, live cricket (not loud) on TV, a Crib team, a Quiz night and pictures of late lamented regulars hung above their favourite seats all contribute to the "local" feel. Landlord Barry Fagg has been in charge for 12 years and it shows in the quality of his beer. The Greene King mild was as good as I've tasted anywhere, and equal praise was steeped upon the Everards Tiger guest beer and the Greene King Abbot. And did I mention the sausage sandwiches?
THE HOPBINE (Fair Street) had been so busy the evening before our visit that it had completely run out of real ale, so I vowed to return at a later date to test the goods (I know, such dedication....). It was some weeks later when I popped back to find one of the three pumps working. The beer, White Star Titanic was good. The Hopbine is very much a place for pub games. One spacious room is equipped with a pool table and darts boards. The dining area is large and comfortable.
Next on the list was THE VINE (East Road/Burleigh Street), formerly the Boat Race. This could hardly be classified as a pub. It is more of a bistro-cum-coffee shop-cum wine bar. The food looked elegant and continental and the staff were very pleasant and accommodating. We noticed that there were three real ales available, Deuchars IPA, Fullers London Pride and Timothy Taylor Landlord. All excellent beers in their prime but I must admit we approached with low expectations and ordered only a half pint of each. How wrong we were! The beer was of excellent quality - just the right temperature, full of rounded taste. We sank our halves and asked for more....
Moving along East Road we entered the newly refurbished BAKERS (East Road). This is another Greene King pub but is so different from the Clarendon. Furnished with high bars and a mixture of traditional artefacts and modern furniture, it's unashamedly aimed at attracting the young, specifically students, with cocktails being the order of the day. There were, however several pumps on the bar each serving a different Greene King ale, one being Speckled Hen. We plumped for the newly introduced, flash chilled, St Edmunds Ale. Citrus tasting and very cold, it is Greene King's attempt to wean the young drinker away from lager and on to proper beer. To be honest, it wasn't to my taste, but it is a sterling effort and should be applauded. We hope very much that it is successful.
We then found ourselves in the comfy sofas of the TRAM DEPOT (Dover Street). This is a cavernous pub, once again aimed at student trade but with a greater variety of real ales available than the Bakers, offering 3 Everards ales and 3 guest ales. We tried the Brains SA and Castle Rock Preservation Ale and were very kindly given a tour of the cellar by the friendly staff.
Wobbling towards the end of our journey we returned to the Elm Street/Eden Street/Prospect Row confluence to try our third (but not last) Greene King pub of the trail.
THE FREE PRESS (Prospect Row) is famous for once having been the only non-smoking pub in Cambridge. That distinction now taken away, it can rely on 4 real ales (three GK and one guest) and a traditional menu to attract custom. This too is a Local Pub, many locals choosing to gather around the tiny side of the bar that once must have been the snug. It has a reasonably large garden area (which was also non-smoking the last time I was there) and a large variety of board games for those rainy summer days. The guest beer on our visit, White Star Titanic Bitter, was very good.
Finally, and just over the road, we entered our fourth Greene King establishment and the last on the trail, the hustle and bustle called THE CRICKETERS (Melbourne Place). This is a sports fan's pub. On the day of our visit, TVs in every room were displaying different sports. Beers on offer were GK IPA and Speckled Hen and Sundance and Everards Tiger.
And so, after a long afternoon's flying the kite the Cambridge Branch campaigners signed off another successful campaign. We were each of us tired and perhaps a little merry, satisfied that at least in this area of Cambridge, the traditional and not so traditional pub was alive and well. It was time to go home - after just one more Belgium beer across the alley in the Elm Tree