The Crystal Maze Pub Crawl is a pub crawl in London based on the classic game show The Crystal Maze. Inspired by the format, it consists of:
- 3 pubs in the Industrial Zone (Battersea)
- 3 pubs in the Mediaeval Zone (City of London)
- 3 pubs in the Oceanic Zone (Maritime Greenwich)
- 3 pubs in the Futuristic Zone (Docklands)
- 1 pub overlooking the Crystal (Millennium) Dome.
This crawl was designed as a lighter, more pleasant alternative to the ambitious and ill-fated Alphabet Pub Crawl. This crawl includes only 13 pubs as opposed to the 26 of the ABC or the Monopoly Pub Crawl. However, the pubs have been chosen carefully for high quality (rather than just their initial letter or location). The additional time will hopefully provide time for sightseeing, leisurely food-eating and photography. It also takes us through some nice areas of London.
Pub recommendations came from friends, CAMRA's Good Beer Guide 2010 and the AA Pub Guide 2011.
This is the second version of this crawl. The first version was tested in August 2011 and found to be sound in principle, but in need of a few tweaks.
I am Richard O'Brien in this metaphor, since I devised/intend to host the crawl and I also have no hair. People who join me will select a team captain and vice-captain. For each pub, the captain selects a member of the team (or himself/herself) to undertake a Physical, Skill, Mental or Mystery challenge. Ideally, this person should be selected before we get to the pub, because special instructions may be needed.
If you fail your challenge, you're "locked in" and can't drink alcohol for one pub.
Yes, the use of both the Industrial and Oceanic Zones is anachronistic, since the two never coexisted on the show; the Oceanic Zone actually replaced the Industrial Zone after the first three series. However, I needed four Zones, and the only other Zone in all six series was the Aztec Zone. If you can find three decent pubs in London that are Aztec-themed or in an Aztecky location, reasonably close to one another, good luck to you.
Some challenges involve the whole team.
- PHYSICAL: Down your drink.
- PHYSICAL: You may not touch the ground between this pub and the next one. (That is, your teammates will have to carry you.)
- PHYSICAL: Stand on one leg for the duration of this pub.
- PHYSICAL: At this pub, you may not use the lavatory.
- PHYSICAL: Everybody orders the same drink. Everybody must finish the last part of their drink simultaneously.
- SKILL: Buy a bar snack, ideally peanuts. You must catch, in your mouth, one peanut thrown by each member of the team (including yourself).
- SKILL: place a stack of N beer mats on the side of the table, where N is the number of people on the crawl. Flip them up with the back of your hand and catch them all.
- SKILL: Hold the last mouthful of your drink in your mouth from this pub until we reach the next one. Spit it out into an empty glass as proof.
- SKILL: You have (depending on how busy the bar is) 2 minutes, 2 minutes and 30 seconds or 3 minutes to order, pay for and drink your drink. Go.
- MENTAL: On the next round, arrange with your team to buy drinks whose names cover as many letters of the alphabet as possible. Hint: any drink involving vodka covers the otherwise difficult letters K and V.
- MENTAL: You may not use the letter E at the next pub, both when speaking (including when ordering your drink) and when using your phone.
- MENTAL: At the next pub, you may not use the English language.
- MENTAL: Pay for your next drink/round using only silver coins.
- MENTAL: Here is 1 pound coin. Play the quiz machine and walk away at least level.
- MENTAL: Every drink purchased at the next pub will have an Alcohol By Volume or ABV percentage. For example, beers may have 3.6 or 4.0 or 5.0 percent, while the gin in a gin & tonic will give you something like 40 percent. Using all of these numbers (3.6, 4.0, 5.0, 40 or whatever your team buys), and elementary arithmetic operations (add, subtract, multiply, divide), reach the number 500. (All numbers must be used. If two people buy the same drink, you get to use that number twice. If somebody buys a non-alcoholic drink, you get to use the number 0.)
- MYSTERY: Remain outside the next pub. Everybody else goes inside and buys you a drink, which may be non-alcoholic but must not be water. You are led in, and have to identify it without looking at it. (You may taste, smell, and touch it.) (Easier version: you only have to guess what colour it is.)
- MYSTERY: Order and drink a drink that you have never drunk before.
- MYSTERY: Every drink ordered at the next pub must have ice in it. There are no restrictions on the drinks themselves. Guinness on the rocks, for example, is acceptable.
- MYSTERY: Everybody has to order the same colour of drink. All the drinks have to be different.
Allow 30 minutes of drinking time per pub, except when stopping for meals.
This route has not been tested or timed.
Industrial Zone (Battersea)
Start some time after noon, but before lunch, at Queenstown Road Railway Station in Battersea. You should start after noon because these pubs mostly don't start serving alcohol until then. Head left, under the rail bridge, and down Queenstown Road for about a quarter of a mile (3 minutes) until you reach:
At the Victoria, have your first drink and your first challenge. After this, head back the way you came, past Queenstown Road Railway Station, staying on the right-hand side of the road. Go right at the big junction, along Battersea Park Road and under the bridge. On the right, you will see:
This is a nice pub and a lovely place to have some lunch, just to set up the afternoon's drinking.
The next pub is at Vauxhall. One alternative is to walk all the way east along Battersea Park Road as it becomes Nine Elms Lane, which will take you about 20 minutes, but it's an incredibly boring walk. The other is to wait for a 344 bus going in the same direction. They are about every 10-12 minutes and will get you there in about another 2 minutes. Whatever you do, look out on your left for industrial/prog rock icon Battersea Power Station. Get off the bus just before the enormous junction and turn left along Riverside Walk, from which I hope you will be able to access:
This pub is at the back of a residential complex called St. George's Wharf Tower. It supposedly has a lovely view of the Thames but is pricey for what it is, which is why I suggested you eat lunch beforehand.
To get to the next Zone, head out the front of the building (not sure exactly how this block is arranged, but this should be possible), and over the road into Vauxhall bus station. Go to stop B, and get on the next 87 bus headed north towards the City of London. These are about every 6-10 minutes. Sit upstairs if at all possible, because this bus takes in an insane number of classic London landmarks: the SIS, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Clock Tower, Westminster Abbey, Whitehall, Downing Street, Trafalgar Square and Nelson's Column, and then most of the Strand. Get off at the last stop, which is Aldywch. The journey time is quoted as 17 minutes but I'm not sure if that takes into account the huge amount of traffic that's on this route.
Mediaeval Zone (City of London)
Pubs actually dating back to the Middle Ages (500 to 1500 AD) are quite thin on the ground thanks to the Great Fire Of London of 1666, but there are pubs with a heritage going back that far. These pubs are pretty sure things.
From the bus stop, carry on in the same direction that the bus was taking you, and turn left into Kingsway. Cross the road as soon as you can and follow Portugal Street on the right. Take the third right turn off Portugal Street, which is Carey Street, and follow this until you see, on your left:
Carry on in the same direction along Carey Street and turn right, proceeding down Bell Yard. You'll meet Fleet Street at the far end of this road. Turn right again. Continue along the front of the Royal Courts of Justice and on the left side of the road you will encounter:
(This one is untested, but well spoken-of.)
Go back the way you came along Fleet Street, for some distance, until you hit New Bridge Street. Turn right (south, towards the river). Stay on the left side of the road until you come around a gentle bend and see, on the corner:
The next link is the longest. Blackfriars Pier is nearby, but unfortunately it is only served at peak periods on weekdays. Instead, head east along Queen Victoria Street until you encounter a pedestrian crossing with St Paul's Cathedral visible through the buildings on your left and some abstract art pointing the way to the Millennium Bridge on your right. Descend the steps and cross the bridge, then once on the south bank of the Thames, turn left (east) to reach Bankside Pier. Here, you will be getting on a River Bus headed east to Greenwich Pier. Boats are every 20 minutes in the afternoon and the journey takes 27 minutes apparently. While time-consuming, it should be sunny and scenic.
Oceanic Zone (Maritime Greenwich)
Head directly south from the pier. Take a nice look at the Cutty Sark on your right, and keep going straight on as the road becomes King William Walk. On the corner on your right, just before you reach Greenwich Park, is:
Now is the right time to sit down and have dinner.
Go into the park and turn right, finding (by whatever means) the first exit on the right. This will spit you out onto Croom Hill. Cross the road and go straight on, around Gloucester Circus and out the other side. Turn right at Royal Hill. Carry on in this direction and you will come across two great pubs next door to one another. One is the Richard I, which you will be ignoring. The other is:
Go back down Royal Hill, left at Circus Street, right at Greenwich South Street, and left at the big interchange with Greenwich High Road. Join the DLR at Greenwich DLR station and get off immediately after crossing the Thames, at Island Gardens. After leaving the station, turn right (west; clockwise around the rim of the Isle of Dogs) along Manchester Road and proceed in that direction until you see, on your right:
Futuristic Zone (Docklands)
From the Lord Nelson, go back the way you came and cross the road to the bus stop. Get a D3 or (for preference) a D7 bound west (clockwise). These buses are about every 15 minutes each at this time of night. Get off at Byng Street and walk straight down it. You'll see Manilla Street on your left, and on Manilla Street, on your left, you will see:
Beyond this, "good" pubs in the Docklands are extremely thin on the ground. But at this stage in the crawl you are probably not too fussed about high quality drinking experiences. The Docklands is more about the amazing scenery than anything else, so just enjoy the lights.
Should be around 9 minutes on foot to the next pub. If you can (I haven't checked this yet), walk out of the North Pole and cut straight through to Marsh Wall. If this isn't possible, just turn right out of the pub and then go left when Manilla Street meets Byng Street and left again when Byng Street meets Mastmaker Road. In either case, go right at Marsh Wall, then left at Admirals Way. From here, it should be easy to see One Canada Square to the north. Walk towards it. Follow the foot route north, across the South Quay footbridge, north past the entrance to Canary Wharf tube station on your right, and presently on your left you'll see:
The Slug And Lettuce
All Bar One
Both of these pubs sit right under One Canada Square. Neither are particularly notable except for their spectacular locations.
You're nearly done. Head north and hit a road, South Colonnade. Follow it left (west). Take the first right (north) then left (west) and then north on foot. You'll run into a dock, which has a footbridge across it on your left. On your right, on the near side of the dock, you'll find:
The Cat And Canary
This pub is well spoken-of and is purportedly a straightforward boozer, but this is untested at the moment.
Next link is all on foot and takes about 14 minutes. Go back to the road (North Colonnade) and proceed East past One Canada Square on your right. Follow this road as it leads out of the Docklands and up to a roundabout. At the far side of the roundabout are some steps and an alley which will lead you down to ground level. Follow the (unnamed) road you'll meet straight on. It bends ninety degrees to the left (east) as it reaches West India Millwall Dock. Finally it reaches Preston's Road, which runs up the east bank of the Isle of Dogs. When you reach Preston's Road just cross straight over and go through the pedestrianised barrier...
The Crystal (Millennium) Dome
This is the best pub in the Docklands and it has a view of the former Millennium Dome over the river. You are here until the end.