Event led by Khris R.
Attendance: 9 men, 1 dog and 1 woman.
Distance: 3.98 miles (6.4 km).
Time: start 18:45, end 20:25.
Speed: not recorded
Terrain: pavement and gravel track.
Elevation: not recorded
Weather: clear skies, sunlight to twilight.
Number of sewage works: 0.
Number of churches: 1.
Number of golf courses: 0.
This event was a point-to-point walk of 3.98 miles (6.4 km) from St Saviours Church, St Albans, N to the Elephant & Castle pub, Amwell, nr Wheathampstead. An optional prequel was the point-to-point in the reverse direction, to make it a longer circular walk.
This event was run as a participant to the media event Pub Pride 2022, run by the campaign group Ask For Clive (registered charity number 1188038). The group aims to promote inclusive environments for the LBGT+ community. The group’s method is to convince pubs to train their staff to act upon any observed or reported instance of discrimination and/or hate crime. The group provides a sticker for the pub to place in their front window, to advertise their alignment to the campaign.
Pub Pride 2022 is the group’s second annual campaign. Having launched in 2019, lockdown in 2020 scuppered the group’s initial plans, making the first annual campaign 2021. The launch event for 2022 took place in St Saviour’s Church, a glorious Arts & Crafts building with a solid local reputation for being a venue of venues, especially with anything to do with alcohol. The venue is a regular host of local wine merchant Flagship Wine’s annual wine pre-Christmas fair and hosts its own annual Beer & Fizz Festival. Holy Communion has never been so popular…!
The launch event was well attended, with ~100 people. Amongst the crowd were:
- a large proportion of the board of the Campaign for Real Ale (themselves a diversity of the LGBT+ community) (and here is their press release for Pub Pride)
- a large contingent from St Albans Musical Theatre Company.
- and, of course, an organisation called the Gay Outdoor Club.
The following spoke:
- Danny Clare, Chairman of Trustees & Co-Founder, Ask For Clive. Danny told the story of how the charity Ask For Clive came about and its ambitions for growing the campaign over the years.
- Fr Corniel Quak, Curate, St Saviour’s Church. Corniel set out the common ground between the inclusive strategic ambition of the charity and that of the Church.
- Steve Alison, Chief Inspector, Hertfordshire Police Diversity, Equality & Inclusion Squad. Steve set out the strategic ambitions of the police in this event, to provide a delegated enforcement mechanism for detecting and prosecuting hate crime.
- Lizzie Norton-Henry, a trustee of the Ask For Clive.
- Clive Duffey, Co-Founder, Ask For Clive. Clive spoke about the background to the charity and how it works.
- Steven Wilson, a trustee of the Ask For Clive. Steve set out some of the relationships that the charity had established and listed some of the key events related to Pub Pride 2022.
- Daisy Cooper, Member of Parliament for St Albans and a trustee of the charity. Daisy acknowledged being a politician and sought to de-politicise her presentation, even acknowledging the “crazy world in which we live today”. Daisy named a number of the local sponsors of the event in the style of a traditional Toastmaster.
Two singers sung one song each, one of whom was Sinéad Quinn. (We didn’t hear the name of the second singer clearly, and unfortunately, no published itinerary of speakers/singers was available on the night.)
Interestingly, not one person at the media event wore a mask.
Our walk started a little later than advertised – of course, these media events always over-run, because, like Herts GOC’s event reports, when they start they never can stop – barging forward to the first of our pub stops, the Rose & Crown at Sandridge (“the Rosie”). After a brief pint here, we yomped via Heartwood Forest and Nomansland Common towards our end point and our second pub, the Elephant & Castle at Awell nr Wheathampstead (“the Elephant”).
Both pubs kept clean, fresh beer and maintained spacious beer gardens. We ate at the Elephant, whose food offerings were superb and very well cooked. The burgers were excellent. The Elephant’s beer garden is vast enough to accommodate two large teepees, providing shelter for some of the outdoor seating. The Elephant, being owned by the Farr Brewery (although it still carries signage of Greene King), brewed and sold its own part of the campaign, Pride Ale (an Indian Pale Ale).
Neither pub was particularly brash about marketing Pub Pride. Marketing paraphernalia was subtle, if even visible. This makes sense: there is a fine dividing line between promoting open business (to increase revenues) and pushing an unwanted ideology down other peoples’ throats. Get woke, go broke? Many pubs are small-medium businesses (including chains, such as Punch Pubs) for whom it makes no business sense to cherry-pick their customers by sectional, sectarian, identitarian, religious, political or medical criteria. Inclusivity by default maximises revenue, as it always has done. The two pubs of this event appear to have interpreted Pub Pride as a soft marketing message to a particular audience of the outside world, combined with some degree of training of their staff to spot the early warning signs that something might be amiss in their venues for all customers in their venues. This feels like the right way to do it.
The unofficial prequel walk from Elephant and Castle to St Saviours Church was 4.65 miles (7.4 km) at 256 ft elevation. It started at 15:50, arriving at St Saviours Church at 17:08. We sauntered down Bull Lane to enter the phenomenal Heartwood Forest. The coppicing was in place due to the recent explosion of colour from the thriving bluebells. This was overset with the sunlight penetrating the canopy of trees in Round Wood. We then entered the ‘Magical Woods’ with the signature community bench - if only The Mad Hatter was in town. We continued and were bemused with signage of a lost dog which resembled a badger. We stepped over the Hertfordshire Way into Langley Wood with its mature trees. Oh, this is when the Magical Wood had spirited one of the group to another location. I guess it must be true - the woodland fairies are watching. We met up again at Sandridgebury Farm and Stables in full attendance and continued along the lane passing under Thameslink before walking along a field adjacent to Porters Wood into Long Spinney. After a few hundred metres entered the historical “shooting range” Beech Bottom Dyke in which we took the higher ground. This led us to Ancient Briton stone, before another woodland passing the Old Fire Station all boarded up on our way to Bernards Heath and onto our destination - St Saviours Church.
All 9 walkers attended the more-or-less compulsory pub stops.
The event was planned in line with GOC’s covid-secure policy. This walk required no particular mitigations.
Third party events for your diaries:
- St Albans Music Theatre Company’s production of “Rent”, by Jonathan Larson at the Roman Theatre Open Air Festival, 21-26 Jun 2022. Buy tickets from https://ovo.org.uk/big-shows/rent/ .
- St Saviour’s Beer & Fizz Festival (beer, food, music and, in theory, wine) 08-10 Jul 2022 (remember to reserve 09 Jul 2022 for GOC Herts!). Tickets not yet on sale, check out https://beerandfizz.com/ for more info (tickets expected via https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/ in due course).
Words by Martin Thornhill and Chris Renforth. Pictures by Chris Renforth.