Cumbria is renowned for its wet weather, but this winter has been a particularly bad one with many places seeing flood waters destroy homes, roads and businesses. Don’t forget though, Cumbrians are a hardy bunch. The county relies on tourists flocking to see the stunning countryside and experience the rather cosy hospitality and they are keen to remind people that Cumbria is open for business! So, whether you’re looking for a weekend away or planning a longer trip in the next few months, there is one way to drink the county dry. Via the pubs!
You can’t go wrong with pubs in the Lake District. You name it, they have it. Up-market gastro pubs, lounges with traditional oak beams, bars brimming with history, character, folklore and (of course) a wonderful selection of beer.
This is by no means an ultimate list but here’s a few I would recommend.
For the foodies:
Nestled between Ambleside, Hawkshead and Coniston, The Drunken Duck is for thicker walleted of visitors. Extremely good, locally sourced, food. If you’re lucky enough to bag a table across the road in part of the beer garden, you’ll be treated with lovely views. They brew their own beer under the Barngates Brewery label – sip a pint of Chester’s Strong and Ugly or Tag Lag while leaning on a bar made of local black slate. Booking is a must if you want an evening meal. Rooms from £105 to £325 per night.
Hotel and pub with beautiful interiors and good food. Take someone you want to impress. Stay a night here for ultimate luxury. Traditional meals with twists such as Pheasant Blanquette with chestnuts and honey & beer roast duck leg. Outdoor eating area available. Rooms from £105 – £305
A traditional pub which graduated to a rather fancy one a few years ago, the Masons Arms on Strawberry Bank looks over the Winster Valley just a few miles from Newby Bridge. Roaring fires all year round, heavy oak beams, cosy beer garden out front. Good beer selection, excellent food – very decent sandwiches such as Cartmel Valley Smoked Salmon with cucumber & dill mayo. Cottages within walking distance and rooms are available at the pub, minimum 2 night stay.
Tucked away in the small village of Loppergath, south of Ulverston, this tiny pub boats its own microbrewery next to the bar. Watch your next pint of Healey Beer brewing as you warm your toes by the wood burning stove. You can borrow books and games and there is a popular quiz every other Saturday – they even provide a cracking hot pot for every entrant.
The Kings Arms is one of the four pubs in the small village of Hawkshead. I can recommend all of them, The Sun Inn, The Red Lion and The Queens, although The Kings has a special place in my heart, as I worked there in my younger days!
The Kings is wonderfully quaint. The landlord commissioned a local wood worker to hand-carve a six-foot oak column shaped as a king to support the 16th century ceiling. Good food and excellent beer selection including Hawkshead Brewery’s very own Lakeland Gold and Brodie’s Prime. Cosy open fire. Beer garden out the front that spills over into the square in the summer and at New Year when the party gets jumping. Live music occasionally, check out their facebook page for details. Rooms at the pub from £45 per person per night. Cottages in the village are also available.
Good solid traditional pub with excellent local walks. The building feels soaked in history as do most of the pubs in the Lakes. A spot of lunch after a long walk in the area is delightful. Good beer garden in the sunshine. Rooms from £80 a night. You can also use the spa facilities of the local Langdale hotel.
Something slightly different. Still, the excellent beer selection, good food and open fires, but they also have a well stocked deli and a phone box fish tank out front. The mountain, the Old Man of Coniston, towers above it. Locally brewed beer such as Bluebird from Coniston Brewery. Popular with walkers and bikers. Rooms from £63 per night. Cottages also available.
Unfortunately closed due to the flooding this winter, but please visit when it reopens, I would highly recommend it. The Swan is a boutique style hotel with chic decor and low lighting. The menu is good and, of course, it has a varied beer selection. Beer garden just outside – you can watch the boats dance as the river Leven melts into the tip of Lake Windermere. Drivers will need to mind the tight bridge. They have a wee ‘library area’ for kids which is a fantastic idea for Mums and Dads. The children can play somewhere safe and entertaining while you relax with a local brew. It also has a pool and a spa. If you’re lucky enough to arrive by boat, you can even moor it here! Rooms from £99.
Wonderfully traditional pub with open fires and a good beer selection (of course!) Beer garden round the back and a couple of tables out the front door too. Just opposite the pub is an enclosed play park with a rather enormous slide. Kids can go wild while parents watch and enjoy the peace. Room from £70. Cottages also available.
A stones throw from where Beatrix Potter lived. A good selection of beer, traditional food and an open fire. Beer garden to the side is enclosed. Bring your own toys etc and the kids can have a little more space among the slates and the beer tables. Peter Rabbit might even make an appearance over the back wall. Rooms from £95 a night.