Chapel St Leonards, Lincs:
Actually on the promenade, this is a real surprise: it’s a beachfront bar with a traditionalish but maritime-themed interior, and an outside area on the beach that is built to resemble a ship, along with clever outside benches with a drink tray built into the railing.
There’s a choice of real ale, food at times (sadly not when we visited), pleasant staff, and a view over the beach and out to the wind farm off the coast.
Right on the prom, overlooking the paddling pool and town on one side, and the sea on another. There’s an enclosed (perhaps too enclosed, legally?) smoking area, and outside benches. They serve food, but only at weekends, I think.
We visited three times: the first visit wouldn’t have qualifiied as we walked out; football was on the TV, loud, and the place was crowded with shouting, braying fans.
We gave it another try, and it was worth it: the seating outside is nice in the sun, and the Pedigree was excellent (often a problem anywhere that isn’t Burton-on-Trent).
Willoughby, near Alford, Lincs:
A lovely lunchtime break: sadly we were in the car, so I missed out on the ale on offer. Wine (so I’m told) and lunch were fine, landlord and landlady friendly, and the view over the village green was lovely.
Sutton-on Sea, Lincs:
It’s a hotel, but the bar feels pub-like, and there’s a microbrewery. The beer and service are great, to be honest, and the food, while not fancy, is good. Prices are OK and there’s good outside space.
Backstreet pub in Mablethorpe. Not plush, but comfortable and friendly, with real ale (very welcome after a day of lager) and a pubcat. No kids in the bar area :-), but allowed elsewhere.
This didn’t look like a pub; more like a cafe, with outside tables and a modernish shop-front window. Inside, it’s unusually light for a pub, but it was pleasant- the TV was on, but not overbearingly loud, and while I don’t think there was any cask ale, the New World Pale Ale I had was pretty decent, as was the food.
A lunchtime stop. It looked a bit tired and run down from outside (and heading back west, it looks worse- you’d mistake it for being closed), but the appearance was deceptive. Inside is clean, and pleasant. Real ale on offer, but can’t comment on quality as I was driving. Food, wine and staff all great and prices very reasonable.
Near to the Pleasure Beach and the South Pier, this has the seafront position. We dropped in, tired after a day wandering (and a ride on The Big One for me), while I searched Google for a nearby Chinese restaurant. It was a mix of good and bad: the glasses were plastic, but better than the usual cups. No ale, but drinkable Stella (a repeated story of this trip…), and friendly staff that were working hard, but nowhere near enough of them judging by the filthy tables and piles of dirty glasses, and the wait at the bar. We sat outside in the sun at the only clear table, next to one with discarded not-even-half-eaten meals, so overall not a good impression, but there was nothing wrong with our drinks and the prices were OK.
Blackpool Central Pier:
Another family-aimed bar on a pier. The most striking thing here was the queue: there was a problem with the beer taps, and staff were struggling to cope. However, we got our drink (no ale, again) and sat soutside in the sun looking down towards the South Pier. Much the same, I’d say. Nothing to write home about, but not utterly dreadful either.
The only ale I got on our Blackpool trip. Some way north of the main attractions, but very near a tram stop, this is a lovely thirties pub, with some great features, owned by the Samuel Smith’s chain. I’d class the exterior as a bit more Arts and Crafts than Art Deco, but the inside has strong Art Deco touches.
There’s no music, no TVs, and no kids :-). Added to that, the prices are stunning: a pint of bitter and a half of cider came to £3.27, little more than the pint alone would cost in many places, and not much of an increase over a visit to a Sam Smith’s pub in 2008.