Thursday 1st June 2017
In an old industrial seaport like Watchet you may be forgiven for thinking that the Pebbles Tavern had been around for some time. This is not the case and it appears to have been founded in first decade of this century. One thing that is more certain is it was taken on by Tanya and Ben Allen in 2013. It was their first venture into running a pub and they seem to have made a good job of it.
Judged on size alone this is a micro-pub, yet is never referred to as such. It had been used previously as a café and a ladies clothing shop. It was known as Pebbles Inn when the Allens took over. Inside it is a bit like an Aladdin’s cave; one of those pubs where you look in another direction and you notice something you hadn’t seen before. The walls and ceiling are festooned with much bric á brac, posters, pictures, photographs and mirrors. It is quite a remarkable collection and gives the pub a quirky yet warm feel.
I was blinking as I entered as it has a rather dark interior compared with the bright sunny day outside.
The pub is quite long and narrow. Working my eye around the room in a clockwise direction I firstly noticed a piano on the right near the door. Then there are a number of high stools with a shelf along the left wall.
There is now a step down to reach the small area where the bar counter is located. This is a very cluttered area and I actually found it difficult to choose a beer, but in a nice way.
Returning back to the front of the pub, there is largish table on the right. It is here that the wall decorations reach a peak. Also above all this are shelves displaying bottles of beer.
A blue lifebelt dangles from the ceiling and arriving at the front of the pub again there is a large table on the right side. There is an L-shaped pew around two sides with some low stools facing.
The pub is famous for its cider and stocks a large amount of these from Somerset and further afield. They proudly claim that they sell over thirty draught examples. However, if you are a traditionalist, the range of still, natural ciders is much reduced as a number of these are keg offerings. Nevertheless, there is still plenty to satisfy the purist.
This commitment has been rewarded by a number of awards. The pub has landed CAMRA Somerset Cider Pub of the Year for four consecutive years from 2014 to 2017.
It was also CAMRA South West Region Cider Pub of the Year in 2014 and 2015. They are the sole outlet for Secret Orchard Cider which is made on the Nettlecombe Estate, about four miles away. Their Wild Rabbit Cider (6.0%) was on hand pump.
Another notable producer that supplies the pub is Burrow Hill (the Somerset Cider Brandy Co.) of Kingsbury Episcopi. They stock their cider (6.0%) and also Cider Brandy, which must be like Calvados. The brandy comes as 7 year, 15 year and 20 year old. The third cider on handpump was Nempnett Cider’s (Nempnett Trubwell, Somerset) Piglet Gold Cider (6.0%).
Cask beer lovers are not neglected as three were available: Fuller’s (Chiswick, London) London Pride (4.1%); Moles (Melksham, Wiltshire) Paddy’s Tarmac Tipple (4.5%), a porter and finally a house beer, Pebbles Sly Parrot (4.4%) brewed by Stowey Brewery of Nether Stowey, Somerset.
The pub also offers a wide selection of Gins, Ruma and Single Malts. No food is available but it is possible to bring in purchases from the nearby Fish and Chip shop and also directly order for delivery from the deli around the corner. The pub will provide plates and cutlery.
Dogs are most welcome except on live music evenings, apparently there have been some incidents!
Regarding live music, there are bands and singers on in the evenings but not on a specific day of the week. These evenings are quite random. However the second Tuesday in the month is dedicated to Acoustic Night and the third Tuesday of the month is Sea Shanty evening. It is worth noting that the proprietors themselves are musicians.
Watchet is a bit of an oasis for good pubs on this coast as there are plenty of others in surrounding towns and villages that are not so good as here. So, if you are in the area or travelling on the West Somerset Railway which has a station in the town, you should leave some time to visit its pub attractions.
Hours: Monday, Tuesday & Thursday 11.00-23.00; Wednesday 17.00-23.00;
Friday & Saturday 11.00-24.00; Sunday 12.00-23.00
By far the best way to visit Pebbles is to arrive on a steam train of the West Somerset Railway that runs from Bishop’s Lydeard, near Taunton, to the seaside resort of Minehead.
It is planned to operate trains from Taunton directly onto the railway in the near future.
A useful bus is route 28 that operates from Taunton to Minehead via Watchet.
In fact this is the route you use to get from Taunton Bus Station or Railway Station to Bishop’s Lydeard to begin a journey on the West Somerset Railway. It is half hourly Monday to Saturday finishing mid-evening. On Sundays it is hourly and stops in the late afternoon.
Watchet station has a single platform. If arriving from Bishop’s Lydeard walk to the rear of the train, to the front if arriving from the Minehead direction. At the end of the platform is a foot crossing.
Use this, go down the steps and cross the road. Walk along the side of the harbour.
The Esplanade Club will on your left. You will soon be in Market Street and you’ll find the pub on the right side of the road opposite the Bell Inn.
The bus stop for both directions is in Harbour Street alongside the railway station.
Alight from the bus and walk to its rear. You will soon see the foot crossing mentioned earlier.
Here turn left and follow the route as outlined above.