Gordon McCully enjoyed a delicious meal in the sunshine in the Chorley countryside - and an MOT!
THERE can be fewer locations throughout the whole of Chorley as pleasant as outside the Top Lock on a warm summer’s afternoon.
The welcoming watering hole by the side of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Heapey is a magnet for a whole host of visitors on such as day - whether they be day trippers, walkers or cyclists, members of the narrow boat community, or those loyal folk from a dedicated band of regulars who appreciate the marvellous range of real ales and delicious meals the pub has to offer.
Don’t be expecting fine decor or sumptuous furniture inside - a television or jukebox even.
For in a charming way, I suppose, the Top Lock is still clinging onto a past that is slowly, and sadly, disappearing.
That is part of the place’s attraction.
If you want to sit to in a ‘plastic’ conservatory, watch Sky Sports and drink keg beer - then the Top Lock isn’t for you, I’m afraid.
The pub has a virtually unrivalled array of real ales, well cared for by landlord Phil Entwisle, who also run SAS (Special Ale Service) - a real ale delivery service - throughout the North West and beyond.
In delightfully sharp contrast, behind the bar you’ll often find individually bagged packets of sweets and other items of confectionary.
In one corner of the room there are second hand books, children’s toys, handbags, etc for sale.
Am I in Auntie Wainwright’s? Priceless!
Anyway, I decided to give the place a try for a bite to eat.
It was lunchtime and I’d booked my car in for an MoT at the garage in Wheelton village centre.
I was told to come back in about an hour, so I walked a few minutes up the road to the Top Lock.
It was one of the nicest days of a hugely disappointing summer, as regards the weather, and families were sitting outside enjoying the sunshine.
I joined them after choosing my meal from the blackboard above the bar - home reared pork sausage and mashed potatoes with onion gravy.
It also came with a sprinkling of veg, including carrots, broccoli and cauliflower.
Maybe it wasn’t the sort of day you’d choose a meal like this - a meal, perhaps, more suitable for a chilly winter’s afternoon after a walk along West Pennine Moor foothills, not that far away, or the canal towpath.
But I was hungry and really enjoyed what was served up.
I’d heard about the pork sausage. The pork is reared by Tim on the allotments directly at the back of the pub.
They were delicious and very flavour some.
The meal itself was most enjoyable and the ample portion filled the plate, and myself. No complaints at all at a price of £5.95.
Afterwards, I had time to just sit and watch the world go by, gazing across the canal and over the rolling hillside that stretches up towards Brindle.
Then it was back into the village to collect the car.
The bill was significantly higher than the meal, of course. But I was happy with the outcome.
I would recommend a visit to the Top Lock. Try the curry night on a Tuesday - I’ve heard it’s great value. And there’s live music each Thursday night, too, and a quiz night on a Monday.