Published on October 4th, 2019 | by Alastair Gilmour0
Micropub foxing clever
“Just be careful with the stairs” is probably the most oft-used phrase in one Northumberland micropub. That, and “another one of those please”.
The Foxes Den in Felton sits in what was once the cellar of The Widdrington Arms. Upstairs is The Running Fox café and bakery and both are destination points for villagers and wide-ranging travellers alike.
The original idea three-and-a-half years ago was that the pub would open for evening trade when the café shut for the day, but that hit practicality buffers.
“I had to come in to see what the potential was,” says Andrea Johnson, who also runs award-winning micropb The Office in Morpeth. “When we saw what was here, the cellar had no ceiling, no floors, no electricity or water, but I said, ‘right, I’ll take this – it suits me fine’. Now it’s bedlam in here sometimes.”
The Foxes Den is small – some might describe it as “intimate” – a mix of original stonework and brick where it has been knocked through over the years for more cellar space. It’s the “distressed” interior design vision that creative people spend weeks working on and clients pay a fortune for – but here it’s what it is.
Casks, kegs and wine waiting their turn are stored under box seating – it’s like an Ikea room setting where every available space is maximised for practicality. The pub’s own cellar is cleverly boxed off behind the bar.
“We need every bit of space,” says Andrea. “When we change a cask we shout ‘beer’s off, move’. I love doing shifts here, particularly Wednesday quiz night. It’s amazing how many people we can get in.
“There’s a very strong community sense here. We have cheese nights, pie nights, cake nights – the whole village cooks and I get fed all night. We had a treasure hunt for charity which was very competitive.
“We simply can’t get any more tables in, even though we need them. The Office and here have completely different drinking habits, it’s more traditional here and customers prefer their beers around the four percent mark, but I’m trying to bring more unfiltered, unpasteurised beers in and they’re gradually taking to them. But my downfall is The Running Fox upstairs – I’m never out of it.”
The fox theme is wrung out at every opportunity in cushions, pictures, ornaments and nick-nacks. It’s a very welcoming room with that comforting feel you instinctively know is right and you imagine buzzes incessantly with conversation and rings with laughter.
Beers are fiercely local with Rigg & Furrow Brewery permanently represented.
Andrea says: “Every month we get a bus for a Rigg & Furrow tap visit – and they come here. We’ve even walked the three miles. It gets both places together.”
Hunt it out, it’s by Felton’s old bridge over the Coquet. But be careful with the stairs.