A DEDICATED group of drinkers shared a special pilgrimage to celebrate 25 hallowed years at a unique traditional pub above Delph.
Members of CAMRA’s Rochdale Oldham and Bury branch raised their glasses to Michael and Sheila Fancy to mark The Royal Oak’s distinctive accolade.
The quaint pub at Heights has featured in CAMRA national Good Beer Guide for 25 consecutive years – coinciding with the pub’s 250th anniversary.
A coachload of CAMRA members made the trek up winding lanes to hear branch social secretary Ken Holt heap praise on the ancient moorland hostelry and its owners.
He said: “The Royal Oak is largely unspoilt by modern trends and marketing gimmicks.
“With the rapid turnover of people running pubs nowadays this is a remarkable achievement and only one other in the area – the Cross Keys in Uppermill – has reached this milestone.
Presenting a framed certificate to Michael and Sheila, he added: “The pub has a special atmosphere, with welcoming log fires and consistently good quality of traditional cask beers.
“Mike and Sheila have been running the pub with its adjacent farm for 28 years and retained its unique character.
“It is in an outstanding location on an old packhorse trail, next to the deconsecrated St Thomas’s Church with fine views across the countryside. It’s an ideal place for a quiet drink.”
The pub was originally established in 1767 under its original name the Punch Bowl and in the 1900s it had its own brewhouse.
Over the years the Royal Oak had been the backdrop for many major TV series, including Jamaica Inn.
And the nearby church graveyard featured in the recently released film ‘A Monster Calls’, starting Liam Neeson, when a giant tree costing more than £100,000 was built.
The yew tree was meticulously constructed on the skyline surrounded by gravestones, tombs and crosses at the graveyard.
The story tracks a small boy who seeks the help of the tree monster to cope with his single mother’s terminal illness.
During filming, fierce storms knocked the power out and the crews were for a time reliant on shelter at the Royal Oak.
Michael and Sheila acted as hosts to the filmmakers and cast members.
Michael said: “They were wonderful people – we even laid on an impromptu tapas night for them.
“I’ve got a copy of the book signed by the film director and I’m looking forward to seeing the film.”