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4. The  Forfar  and  Brechin  Ale  Trail  —  by Graeme Duguid

To start this trail you will have to board the No. 20 Strathtay bus at the Forum Centre in Commercial Street, Dundee.  Check the bus times, and if you have some time to wait you may wish to visit Nicoll's across from the bus-stop for a small refreshment before you start your journey.  It has been tastefully refurbished with fine wood-panelled walls, mosaic floors, magnificent plasterwork and domed ceiling. It is a large establishment with many different secluded sections, as well as a more modern-style upstairs area. There are 3 handpulls, offering a variety of beers.

Take the 20 bus to Forfar which runs about every half hour and it takes around 35 minutes to get to your first stop.  Disembark at 'The Cross' opposite the Council Buildings in the centre of Forfar.  Cross the road and walk up The Vennel a short distance and you will see the Osnaburg Bar on your left hand side on the corner of a pend.  The Osnaburg is a cosy, low-ceiling bar whose name comes from Forfar's textile-industry history. It is a Belhaven tenancy and offers a varying range of beers which are served from the 3 handpulls.

Turn right when leaving and walk down the pend, Osnaburg Street, heading North toward East High Street.  Cross East High Street and walk down Castle Street heading North until you come to Victoria Street.  Turn right into Victoria Street, cross to the north side of the road and head up Carseburn Street.  At the junction turn right along Don Street until you reach North Street.  Turn left up North Street until you come to Market Street.  Turn right along Market Street until you come to the Plough Inn on the right hand side of the road. The Plough is a community local near the old railway station and has earned a reputation for good food and cask ale. It has 3 handpulls usually dispensing Scottish brewed beers. The pub hosts many live music nights and the occasional beer festival. High teas are served but you may wish to visit the Forfar Bridie bakers’ shop nearby.

Slightly further to the north end of the town is The Stag, where one handpull dispenses usually Inveralmond ale.

Head back for North Street.  Cross the road and turn into Don Street where you'll find the bus stop for the No. 21 bus that will take you to Brechin which is about 11miles to the east of Forfar and takes about 30 minutes.  Get off the bus at Westwood near Conveners Wynd and walk up St. David Street until you see the Brechin Arms which will be on your left.  The Brechin Arms is a small, cosy pub located in the town’s main street.  It has one handpull, with a regular change of beer.                                             

Proceed along St. David Street into town and take the first left into Market Street.  On the corner of St David Street and Market Street is the Dalhousie which is one of Scotland’s True Heritage Pubs, a high-ceilinged public bar with original (19th century) full-height wood panelling, plus an old carved back gantry and a modest island gantry on wheels. It also has interesting windows, screens, and mirrors. Continue up Market Street and on the left you'll see the Brown Horse Hotel whose eating area is known as the Stables. It has a friendly public bar and serves meals in the lounge bar. This establishment is featured in Scotland’s True Heritage Pubs on account of its long- unchanged interior features and mirrors. It has one handpull serving a rotating guest ale.

Leave the Brown Horse by the back door taking you through the Stables Bar, the car park and onto Clerk Street.  Walk down Clerk Street, then turn left into Panmure Street.  Cross to the right hand side of the road and at the end of the road turn right into Southesk Street.  Follow down the road until you come to the Caledonian Hotel.  The hotel has a large bar and function room/restaurant. The landlord regularly stocks beers from Inveralmond and Houston, with occasional English guests ales from Hampshire. A range of Belgian bottled beers is also held. Live folk music on the last Friday of the month is very popular. For the Steam and Railway enthusiasts, the Caledonian Railway terminus is opposite, with steam trains running to Bridge of Dun on summer weekends.

That concludes the Ale Trail so time to head home.  There are a number of ways to get back to Dundee and this is one of them.  From the Caledonian Hotel, cross the road and turn up to your left up the hill to St. Ninian's Square to catch the No. 31 to Arbroath.  From Arbroath you can get the No. 39 Bus back to Dundee.  As an alternative route, you can also get a No. 30 bus to Montrose and catch the No. 39 bus to Dundee from Montrose.  Depending on the time of day, I suggest you check the bus timetables for the most suitable route. Might be a good idea to collect the bus time tables from the Travel Dundee Travel Centre at 92 Commercial Street,  before you set off on your journey.

Brechin Arms