Peter and Anne Hanscomb from Swindon have visited 83 Arkell’s sites along a trail to commemorate the brewery’s heritage and 180 years of brewing.
The trail, which is hosted on Cask Marque’s CaskFinder App, offers prize points to those taking part and not every pub has to be visited to earn a prize but the Hanscomb have been to every pub, which took them through Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Hampshire. They have emerged as the first couple to complete the challenge in just three months.
Arkell’s ran similar initiatives in the form of an ‘ale passport’ in 1983 and 1998.
Anne Hanscomb said: “I am training for The Thames Path Ultra Challenge in September so, as part of my training plan, I attempted to walk to most of the pubs, although I did have to be a little more creative with some of the further ones and drive so far then walk to the pub, and back to the car, but it all helped.
“I even managed to get my husband to join me on some of the training walks because it involved a pint of ale for him.”
As the first couple to conquer the trail, the Hanscombs have claimed a multitude of prizes and have now earned a private brewery tour led by Arkell’s master brewer, Alex Arkell, where they will see the brewing process, taste some of Arkell’s latest creations and then visit the brewery tap for lunch.
In addition, they are the only ale trailers to be presented with a commemorative certificate to mark their achievement as the first to visit all 83 sites, and managing director of Arkell’s George Arkell and Alex Arkell met them at the last pub on the trail.
George Arkell said: “Their commitment to visit all of our pubs and passion for our beers is truly flattering.”
The Village Inn, Liddington, which was the final site on the trail, has reopened after a six-month closure. Arkell’s had been searching for a new tenant when existing tenant Adam Clay, who also runs the New Inn in Stratton, expressed an interest and has since taken the reins.
Alex Arkell, sixth generation of the Arkell family said “We’re really excited about this ale trail. It celebrates so many things; our milestone anniversary, the great British pub, and interesting, fresh beers, produced by our local steam powered brewery.
“We want people to venture out of their comfort zone, show support and rediscover the charm of authentic pubs just like the Village Inn.”
Peter Hanscomb added: “It’s been a real treat rediscovering lovely pubs that have fallen off our radar. I can also say I have really enjoyed rediscovering Arkell’s beers.
“Many pubs made myself and my wife feel very welcome despite being complete strangers.”
Arkell’s operates more than 90 pubs, many of which offer accommodation.