Club Lonely: We Went in Search of the Most Isolated Nights Out in the UK
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Club Lonely: We Went in Search of the Most Isolated Nights Out in the UK

Journeying from Land's End to John O'Groats in search of the most secluded clubbing experience we could find.

Living in London turns you into a bit of a prick. If you're not careful, you can begin to see the rest of the world as an uncultured backwater, an inhospitable zone of absolute nothingness where everyone wears flat caps and falls over on cobbled streets before supping pints of foamy brown chip fat and whippet fur before going to bed at 9pm because everywhere shut an hour beforehand. You find yourself guffawing at all the funny 235 Things Only Londoners Will Understand About When You Do Yoga In London Because You Do Yoga Now You Live in London; because now you live in London and do yoga you've become an absolute dickhead. You are everything you hate, but hey, you live in London so who cares? Lets all go to Duck and Waffle!


Well, you should care. It's important to care. The world stretches beyond Hackney Wick, and the same goes for nightlife. When it comes to documenting after-dark activity, the radius of interest is firmly encircled round our capital, which isn't right really. So, to broaden my horizons I decided to cast my net far and wide and consider what goes down after sunset in the more remote reaches of the United Kingdom. I wasn't hoping for any kind of pseudo-sociological findings, any big philosophical reveals. I just wanted to see what it's like to let your hair down in places where the next town along is in Canada rather than Cheshire.

My journey as it were, took me from Lizard Point in Cornwall to Inverie deep in the wilds of Scotland, nipping into Lowestoft along the way. I never actually left my seat at any point and this, I decided, was the ultimate proof of the wonders of technology. In seconds I was in touch with parts of the country so remote that they probably don't even have the new sea salt, garlic, and rosemary Popchips yet, and my god, it felt good. Sort of.

I decided to start with the most genuinely remote of the lot: The Old Forge in Knoydart, Scotland. Nestled between a pair of Lochs—Nevis and Hourn—this pub, situated in, yep, an old forge, can quite easily lay claim to being the most remote venue in Britain. There are no roads in or out, and the nearest settlement is 18 miles away. And you thought going to Deptford for a pint with that mate of yours who went to Goldsmiths and still lives like a student despite being 27 years old and deeply, deeply lonely was a pain in the arse. Because you live in London and London is the only way you can understand the world now. You tosser.


Voted one of the 10 best pubs in the world a few years back —albeit by a committee that seem to have forgotten that the actual best pub in the world is the Marquis of Granby at exactly five past eleven on a Friday night in May— the Old Forge is the perfect place for that in-your-head quiet pint you start daydreaming about every day at 2pm. We've not been because, well, it's a two day walk from civilization. What I did do, though, was ring JP, the manager of the pub. This wasn't just any pub that's really, really difficult to get to, though. They prided themselves on the musical aspect of the venue.

"We specialize in folk music here, and we try and put on as much live music as possible," JP told me. They even have instruments on the walls which anyone inside is welcome to peel off and play. "There's always someone playing a tune inside," JP assured me. That's all well and good I said to him, but sometimes you want more than just folk. "Would we ever put on a house DJ? We might. One day. I mean, I mean, we host the Knoydart Music Festival every few years and we welcome all sorts there." Optimo, as far as I know, aren't signed up for the 2016 edition just yet. They do have a "famous and fantastic" seafood platter on offer at the Old Forge though, and if that's not a solid reason to trek 18 miles through the Scottish highlands, lord knows what is.

All that time so far north had given me a nosebleed. I had to flee to the familiar. Having grown up, relatively speaking at least, just down the road, I thought I knew Lowestoft pretty well. By that I mean I've definitely been at least twice and have walked down the semi-charming promenade on both occasions, soaking up the perfectly sad atmosphere that clings like a blanket made of candyfloss, cheap lager and congealed fat to any British seaside town worth its salt and vinegar.


It turned out that I only knew half the story that Lowestoft. Sure I knew it had an M&S and a branch of Great Yarmouth based independent department store Palmers. I didn't know, however, that it has a thriving nightlife scene. Well, sort of. Like most of the United Kingdom, Lowestoft doesn't have a fabric or a Sankeys. Instead, it has a myriad selection of pubs and bars and the kind of clubs where Totally Elton is a bigger draw than Gerd Janson. I spoke to a few people in a few places to really get a feel for a town that I'd always—rightly or wrongly—thought of as the sad older brother of Gorleston-on-Sea.

First up was James at the Plough and Sail, a pub which, I was told, boasts both karaoke and DJs. Robert Johnson only has DJs, ergo the Plough and Sail must be better. That's how things work. I rang James before the first pint had been pulled. He said he was too busy to talk. I tried ringing on several occasions and everytime he answered, he sounded like a bloke busy doing his job who didn't really want some tosser from a website ringing him up to ask a few questions about nightlife and loneliness. "Ring me at 10.30 tomorrow," James said. 10.30 tomorrow rolled round. I rang. "I'm a bit busy mate. Trying to run a pub," he said. I asked James if he had time to answer a few very, very, very quick, honestly very quick questions. He sighed. I asked anyway. James told me they didn't play music or have a karaoke night. "Are you sure? The internet told me you did," came my blustering, embarrassed response. "Well it's wrong." The line went dead.


I tried nightclubs and bars and bowling alleys but no one else in Lowestoft wanted to talk to me. I was constantly told to speak to managers who told me to speak to regional branch managers who had phone numbers that didn't work. Lowestoft, a town so geographically close to my heart had betrayed me. All I wanted to know was what a night out at Richardson's or Notleys or Iconic was like. Now I never will.

You'd think that a bloke living in mainland Britian's last village before the wide expanse of the sea consumes all in sight and the world vanishes into nothing but gunmetal grey and the bright white of an odd floating milk carton, would appreciate the comfort of another human voice reaching out over the ether. You'd sadly, be wrong. It seemed, again, that living far from the madding crowd leaves you socially maladjusted.

The Old Success Inn, situated 10 miles from the bustling metropolis of Penzance, lies close to the, 'clear blue sea and fine sands' of Sennen Cove. It seems, from the website at least, to be a perfect place to sup a few Doom Bars while contemplating just how long it takes to sink into the eternal nothingness of sand simply by standing there on the spot. My journey through Britain had taken me to the wilds of Cornwall. I'd only ever made it as far as Devon before and even then my memories of that county predominately take the shape of things I half saw on childhood holidays spent lying on the backseats of cars, gripped by a youth-long abject fear of the possibility of rain. So I was excited to speak to real Cornishmen, who presumably, would pick up the phone whilst eating one of his compatriots famous pasties.


I'd jetted down to the county because it boasts not one but two of the most extreme geographical points on the mainland. If you want to experience the singular joys of standing in both the most southern and western spots of the country, you could do so in an afternoon, stopping off for a pint or seven on the way. You could probably go body boarding at some point if you were so inclined. And maybe you are. As well as all that, I'd heard stories of complete debauchery in Newquay, which made the town sound like a place where taps run the colour of Irn Bru WKD and the streets are lined with sozzled beach bums engaging in all kind of nefarious activities. As such, I'd assumed the the entirety of Cornwall was up for a big one, 24/7. If my findings are accurate and prime for extrapolation, I was wrong.

Pub after pub in Land's End and Lizard Point and the surrounding areas refused to answer the phone. Emails went unanswered. I was left in the dark, left wondering and wandering. I tried one last time.

"Hi there, am I through to The Old Success Inn, a characterful Inn has recently been updated comfortably blending old and new?" I ventured into the phone. "Yeah. You are," came the response. I asked the nameless voice on the other end of the line if there's much of a scene down in Sennen, if the pub's packed night after night with music mad revellers ready to party long into the night. "We have music, yeah," the voice said. "What kind?" I volleyed back. "Acoustic." No dance music, then? "Never." This wasn't going well. I'd encountered another isolated soul who'd lost his enthusiasm after years spent far away from cocktail bars and pop up mini golf venues. He'd lost the ability to speak. Or rather, he'd lost the ability to speak to me. I chanced one final question, hoping he'd open up and reveal something about the loneliness that accompanies geographical and spiritual isolationism. "Does it ever get lonely down there?" His response was a conversational full stop. "That's why people come here." I didn't know what to say to that. At that exact moment, my powers diminished and I was lost in heaven and lost to earth. I thought about everyone on earth who's chosen to master the art of living in a lonely fashion. I thought about the comfort that isolation can, in its own strange way, bring. I thought about how, on this landmass at least, we aren't ever really fully, properly, actually, genuinely isolated. There's always somewhere. Even if it's 18 miles away. There's always a pub with it's lights on, and when you have that, you have a night out. I asked the voice on the other end of the line for a name, some sign that our interaction had taken place between two human beings. He declined. He hung up.

I left my desk and went for a pint in the closest pub I could find. My journey took me fifteen seconds. The pub was empty.

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