A COUNTY’S bus-based real ale festival has been officially recognised for its contribution to rural tourism.

On Friday, MP David Hanson unveiled an engraved Welsh slate plaque as a sign of thanks from Flintshire County Council.

The plaques continued to be unveiled throughout the day at each pub playing a part in the Flintshire Real Ale Trail.

The festival allows you to rediscover the charm of 10 authentic Welsh pubs and hundreds of unique real ales without having to worry about who's driving.

Speaking at The Oak in Hendre, the Delyn MP said the Flintshire Ale Trail is a valued contributor to Flintshire’s rural economy.

The trail commemorates the link between Rural Business and its connection to local people and rural places, he said.

The ale trail was created by Flintshire Tourism Association four years ago for the benefit of visitors, the community and most of all its rural businesses.

Each year Flintshire Ale Trail transports over 2,000 people straight to the doors of small country pubs and brings over £300,000 to the rural economy.

The pubs directly employ more than 70 people in either a full time or part time capacity and indirectly supports the employment of approximately 50 other people through the purchase of supplies and services.

“Rural pubs are part of our heritage and they make a valuable contribution to the Flintshire economy,” said Flintshire Tourism Association chairman Christine Artus.

“This plaque declares the Flintshire Ale Trail open for business. Long live Flintshire Ale Trail and the pubs on its route.”

The association says the aim of the trail was always to encourage people to visit Flintshire and experience its much loved rural pubs.

“It’s a wonderful event and I hope it can inspire other rural villages to take up a similar activity for their community. I am very proud to have been part of the trail from the start,” said John Les Tomos, proprietor of The Oak in Hendre.

Ale Trail tickets are still available from participating pubs and can be bought for £7.50 in advance or £10 on the day.

PICTURE: Delyn MP David Hanson, third right, unveils the Welsh slate plaque watched by John Les Tomos of The Oak in Hendre and the other publicans on the Flintshire Real Ale trail, Jane Forkings, Bill Llewelyn, Steve Brooke-Jones, Zac Savva, Sandra Blackwell and Alan Ingram, and Flintshire Tourism Association chairman Christine Artus.