Cheers! Pete's epic pub crawl comes to an end after 35 years
When Peter Hill finished off the dregs of his pint at the Ship and Castle on the Isle of Wight, it marked the end of a 35-year journey which has seen him visit every pub on the British Isles and the 70 islands off the coast of Great Britain.
Mr Hill, 63, from West Bromwich, who completed his task last weekend, has spent decades travelling the country with the Black Country Ale Tairsters, a group he founded with his father, to challenge himself and raise money for charity.
It all began in 1984 when Wolverhampton-based Banks’s Brewery released a map of 300 pubs.
Tired of always drinking in the same places, Mr Hill, his father and his friends decided to visit all the pubs on the list and raised £500 for Sandwell Hospital in the process.
For the next 30 years, until his father’s death in 2014, Mr Hill and his father downed pints together across the UK, including at every pub in Hereford and Worcester and the Midlands counties, as well as along the coast line of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
At the completion of his latest challenge, to visit every pub on the 70 islands off the coast of Great Britain, he had travelled 320,000 miles, visited over 21,000 pubs, drank 50,000 pints and raised just over £30,000.
The retired maintenance engineer, who asks for £1 for charity at each pub he visits, said: “It’s as though my dad’s with me on all the trips as we were together that long. I looked out at the sea and thought, I’ve done it dad.”
His latest mission has seen him raise £4,000 for the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, although he admits his adventures have not always gone smoothly.
A trip to the Isle of Man two years ago saw him and his friends miss their ferry by almost 12 hours, after mistaking the morning journey for an afternoon one, and then, after finally arriving, they walked into what they thought was a pub only to find out it was a family home.
Mr Hill, a father-of-two, said: “The lady said, “It hasn’t been a pub for 25 years, it’s my house. I hope you haven’t nicked anything.” We got out of there as quickly as we could.”
He also remembers a time at a pub in Small Heath, in Birmingham, where a stranger walked up to him and offered him £100 to knock out somebody in the pub he did not like.
Despite the occasional strange request, Mr Hill, who never drinks at home, admits the opportunity for socialising is the thing he loves most about pubs.
He said: “I like the social gathering of local lads, you can join in with them and hear their stories.”
Mr Hill, who has documented his travels in over 220 lever arch files and 80,000 photographs and postcards, is planning to carry on his adventures when the Campaign for Real Ale release their Good Beer Guide 2020, which has 4,500 pubs in it.
Although, he admits, he has probably already visited most of them.
In the meantime, Mr Hill will be busy planning his wedding to his partner of 32 years, Dawn Taylor, who he credits with helping him organise all his trips.
He said: “When I met her, I promised her I’d marry her once my challenge was over. Well, I went home on Monday and there was a vicar there and she [Dawn] said I’d better marry her now.”
Despite spending every weekend of the last 35 years visiting different boozers, Mr Hill’s favourite pub is still his local, the Tame Bridge, in Tipton.
By Becky Tombs