Carlisle, the northâ€™s forgotten city, can be a good day out depending on the mood of the locals. Despite the well earned reputation of a naughty minority I have always found Carlisle to be a welcoming away trip, even more so now that visitors are housed in the new East Stand rather than the exposed open terrace behind the goal. The new stand boats a bar amongst its excellent facilities, and there are plenty of other options for those in search of pre and post-match refreshment.
Carlisle â€œCitadelâ€ station opens onto a modern cafÃ© infested crescent which leads you up to the junction of several main roads, including Warwick Road where some twenty minutes walk later one catches first sight of arguably the most striking floodlights in the league, resembling outsized toothbrushes.
The immediate â€œbeside the stationâ€ option comes in the shape of the half-decent Griffin, although colours are not to be advised. This bar does real ale and food and is large and bustling with decent service.
Heading into the town, on the splendidly named â€œBotchergateâ€ â€“ which is the main town centre street for pubs – Wetherspoons/Lloyds provide The Woodrow Wilson, and I have to concede this is one of the best Wetherspoons establishments Iâ€™ve come across, well worth a visit. Even better just a little further down the same street there is now another Lloyds outlet that is a bit more upmarket.
The Border Rambler (formerly The Albion) on the same street is probably one to tuck in those colours, though in my experience itâ€™s usually a decent place for a bit of banter more than anything. A more traditional offering comes in the shape of The Cumberland Arms if you like wood panelling and real ale.
After trekking down Warwick Road The Beehive takes an age to appear on the right hand side of the road. This Theakstons establishment is probably the nearest pub to the ground and is very much a home pub, although again Iâ€™ve always found it welcoming to visitors.
Also near the stadium there is a bar at the adjacent rugby ground that is open on football match-days and again provides a pretty warm welcome.