NOT far from Rawtenstall town centre, situated at one end of the East Lancashire Railway, lies the award-winning drinking den, Buffer Stops – a relatively new addition for discerning ale quaffers in the Rossendale Valley and beyond.

Opened in July 2013 by record producer and train enthusiast Pete Waterman, this former cafe has now been converted into a most impressive real ale, family-friendly establishment.


On arrival, all seemed rather quiet, as I entered the entrance hall, more commonly known as the Booking Office.

A rather spacious environment, with a red tiled floor, old fashioned stools and tables and lots of railway memorabilia adorning typical cream and burgundy walls.

However, the atmosphere soon changed as I entered the bar room. It’s a relatively compact area of a similar design and colour scheme to the entrance hall.

Here regulars were at the bar exchanging banter and relaxing over one of the five cask ales that were on offer.

It was a real head scratcher viewing the chalkboard. A superb range of local ales and a real cider. I kicked off with the Outstanding Brewery, Piston Broke. One for the hopsters this – it was in superb condition. No surprise really, as Buffer Stops is in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide and is currently East Lancs CAMRA’s, Rossendale area Pub of the Year.

The bar is run by Courtney, a most affable and well-informed young lady.

She said: “We always stock a good range of rotating ales, and make sure we always have a permanent dark beer on – a dark beer that constantly changes. A strongish cider is always available too – a drink that’s popular with the ladies.”

Outside, there are lots of wooden chairs and tables placed on the platform of this preservation line, as well as another cosy, more family friendly room, overlooking the trackside.

The Waiting Room, as it’s known, looked superb, with its open fire, wooden fixed bench seating and idiosyncratically decorated with railway paraphernalia and pictures of our railway heritage.

Back in the warmth of the bar, there was time for another couple of half measures, a homemade cheese and onion pie and a chat with the friendly regulars – a mainly retired and mature bunch, discussing a whole range of topics.

One cheery and chirpy soul, Kevin, said: “They are thinking about renaming this bar, Old Buffers but, in all seriousness, everything about this place, is spot on – we love it.”

Indeed, everything was spot on. The ale, the pies, the patrons and the character of the place – and not forgetting, a most welcoming and friendly host. It certainly is a gem by the trackside. I’ll be back soon, no argument.

  • THE Railway runs Rail Ale Trail Guided Tours, which provide a structured day out with a Blue Badge Tour Guide, sampling local ales at some of the best pubs and bars in the area.