The Lake District Guide
Your guide to the best of the Lake District's pubs and inns
The Lake District has many memorable pubs where you can find cosy log fires in winter, delightful beer gardens in summer, great food and genuine real ale. Unfortunately it has some stinkers too! If you use our guide you can be sure of getting a great day or night out, with an impartial review of the pub and its food. We'd also like to know of anywhere that you recommend, or would like to be included.
If you've stayed or
dined at a hotel or restaurant and you think it should be included
in this guide, send your comments to
South Lake District Pubs
Staveley - near Kendal
This pub is two miles from Windermere on
the road to Kendal. It has a wide choice of real ale (some of which it
brews itself in the backyard), and a very extensive collection of bottled
ales and whiskeys. There's a comprehensive food menu. The pub also offers
Cartmel Fell (South end of Windermere)- The Masons Arms
This pub is excellent. We've visited it many times over the years and
it never fails to delight. Whether you're sitting outside on the terrace,
or enjoying the cosy bars or the extensive dining area, you can get the
best real ale and the finest food from an extensive menu of good pub food
cooked with skill and flair. There's also a great range of food that we'd
call gastropub in style - that is to say, more like an upmarket restaurant
than a pub - from a menu that focuses on local food and produce. And the
setting - well, it is truly special.
Coniston - Black Bull
A good solid Lakeland pub, offering the traditional food and high
quality of beer you'd expect. The food comes from a fairly standard pub
type menu, but it's dependable and well-cooked, and the pub brews its own
beer, which is always a point in favour of a hostelry in my view - it
means they care about what they're doing and have a passion for the
product they sell.
Coniston - The Sun Inn
This is another popular (and deservedly so) pub in Coniston, near the
centre of the village and on what was originally a pack horse trail. Both
the Sun Inn and the Black Bull are over 400 years old, so they both have
lots of atmosphere, with flagged floors, oak beams, roaring fires and so
on. The Sun Inn is a Free House, and serves a wide range of guest ales and
an excellent range of food which is perhaps slightly more ambitious than
the food at the Black Bull.
Hawkshead - King's Arms
This is one of the most traditional and characterful pubs in the area,
with rooms to let which maintain a real sense of the pub's history. It's a
place full of oak beams and uneven floors, creaking timbers and low
windows. But the facilities have been modernised and offer a comfortable
place to stay. The pub has a snug little bar and a good selection of
beers, a simpler lunch menu and a more ambitious menu during the evening.
Hawkshead - Queen's Head
A good menu, featuring Herdwick lamb, venison, lake trout from
Esthwaite Water, fish and so on. The bar's just as historic as the King's
Arms, and offers a warm welcome, whether you plan on staying, you're just
popping in for a pint and a sandwich, or you want to enjoy the full dinner,
which has aspirations towards something more complex than your average pub
Hawkshead/Ambleside - The Drunken Duck Inn
It's hailed - and rightly so - as one of the UK's leading gastropubs,
but it still serves as a local pub with fine ale. Although it can be busy,
if you choose your time just right, you can still enjoy a quite pint on
the terrace overlooking an exquisite view of the fells. The food is
unmissable, the service is well-executed, the ale is brewed on the
premises, and to cap it off, there's 60 acres of private land attached to
Bowness - The Hole in t'Wall
This is the town's
oldest pub, behind St. Martins Church, and it's named after the hole in
the wall through which beer was passed to the blacksmith's workshop. The
stone flagged floors, bar meals, fine food and real ales are highly
enjoyable, as is the beer garden outside on summer evenings. Most rate it
as the best traditional pub in Bowness, with a lively atmosphere and fresh
local food. Live music every Friday evening throughout the Summer.
Central Lake District Pubs
Langdale - Ambleside - The Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel
It's hard to fault the amazing setting of
this historic little pub and hotel at the head of the Langdale valley.
(And it has rooms - excellent if you want a base in the Langdales). It's
hosted some of the world's finest climbers in its time - and continues to
serve as a base for walkers and mountaineers - even though it's been
brought more up to date with en-suite showers in the bedrooms (well, some
of them, at least!). It's also lost its image as the kind of place where
climbers once threw their glasses into the fireplace at the end of a hard
day's walking.....and it does serve great food and fine ales. If you want
the more refined atmosphere of the restaurant, you'll need to book, but
the bar serves good tasty and simple pub food.
Langdale - Ambleside - The New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel
The New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel has a nice
bar with a terrace, good pub food and some comfortable and more luxurious
rooms (compared to the Old DG) for those wanting accommodation in the
valley. They also have a very good restaurant. And some of my nicest pints
of beer have been drunk here, sitting on the terrace after a hard day
walking on the mountains just behind the hotel. The bar food is
recommended. Highly recommended.
Ambleside - The Golden Rule
A favourite pub for many walkers and
passers-by, this pub is marked out by its traditional atmosphere and the
fine ales it serves. As one person said: "What a marvelous pub the Golden
Rule is. I went in there a month ago late on after a hard day in the
fells. The staff, the locals and indeed the beer were all tremendous. This
is a pub that's absolutely head and shoulders above the rest in Ambleside.
The landlord must be one of the nicest people I've ever met."
Troutbeck - near Ambleside - The Queen's Head
Wonderful traditional inn with massive slate
fire nook, original oak beams, carved oak bar and two log fires.
Excellent bar food and a very good restaurant with such items as seared
tuna, stuffed pheasant and steak and ale cobbler. Rooms to let.
Troutbeck - near Ambleside - The Mortal Man
A very traditional pub, with rooms to
let. Lots of atmosphere, a good choice of ales, bar meals, snacks and
sandwiches, a traditional tap-room with open fires, and a wonderful
garden with fantastic views looking straight down the Troutbeck valley
Chapel Stile - Langdale - Wainwright's InnThis pub is part of the Langdale Estate, which owns much of Elterwater Village, the Langdale Hotel and Country Club, and large parts of Chapel Stile. I haven't been in this pub myself, but all the people I know who have tried it speak very highly of it, so we've included it here. I'm told it serves great bar meals, and it certainly has an attractive setting.
The Langdale Estate, Great Langdale, Nr Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 9JD
Phone: 015394 37302 Web: www.langdale.co.uk
Grasmere - Travellers' Rest
This pub is just outside the village, and it is a very attractive,
traditional place full of oak, beams, fireplaces with real fires, and
little nooks and crannies. Unfortunately it's also situated on the main
road from Ambleside to Keswick. But still, it's a delightful place to have
a pint, while (to quote their website) the bar restaurant, popular with
locals and tourists alike, presents an extensive menu of award winning
food featuring local and provincial dishes. From personal experience I can
vouch for the fact that they do indeed have many local real ales, an extensive
cellar of fine wines, and a wide range of malt whiskies!
Eastern Lake District Pubs - towards Ullswater
Kirkstone Pass - The Kirkstone Pass Inn
This pub is worthy of your attention because
it's the highest in the Lake District, though not in England. The view, as
you might therefore expect, is absolutely superb, and you can sit outside
with a beer and watch the sun go down over the magnificent view. There are
rooms if you want to stay; the food is basic pub grub with roasts on
Sunday, with daily specials, but it's all well-prepared. If you're
travelling over Kirkstone Pass in winter, this is an especially welcoming
place to break your journey.
Glenridding - The Traveller's Rest
It's well worth walking the short distance
up the hillside from the village centre to this pub, where you can enjoy
good beer and unpretentious food.
Patterdale - the White Lion
Patterdale's only pub is the White Lion. It
comes highly recommended for its draught ales and sizzling steak platters.
As an alternative, you could try the trout with almonds, which is equally
delicious. The pub's right in the centre of the village.
Western Lake District Pubs - towards the Cumbrian Coast
Ravenglass - The Ratty Arms
A pub by the main railway station
which has a devoted following. The Cumbrian lamb is especially good.
Certainly I've always enjoyed good food here over a period of many years
(the lamb, especially!).
Wasdale - The Wasdale Head Inn
Wasdale is one of the most remote and
delightful spots in England, and yet it has this wonderful hotel-come-pub, with some charming rooms to
let and a restaurant that serves a delightful four-course (and pretty
sophisticated) dinner at a very reasonable price. We've stayed here
several years on the trot and had some fine old times - though maybe not
so much with the weather, since this is one of the wettest places in
England - and I highly recommend the accommodation. If you're staying
in the hotel, the breakfasts are absolutely delicious. You occasionally
have to put up with the staff dropping everything and running off on a
rescue mission with the local mountain rescue team, but it is a charming,
idiosyncratic, and delightful place.
Ennerdale - The Shepherd's Arms
Ennerdale is the most remote of the Lakes, with no road,
and it's pretty inaccessible (which may be a point in its favour for many
people!). The Shepherd's Arms comes highly recommended (especially by
those who have walked the coast to coast path, on the route of which it
lies) for its hearty bar meals
and good choice of beers. It also has comfortable rooms to let.
Loweswater - The Kirkstile Inn
A beautiful old inn which has had a
contemporary make-over, providing sumptuous accommodation in a building of
great character. Excellent food and accommodation.
Crummock Water & Buttermere - The Bridge Hotel
Although more of a hotel than a
pub, you can get top-notch bar food, and they serve a fine collection of
real ales, together with hot drinks and refreshments in the bar. They also
offer a very impressive dinner in the excellent restaurant. Accommodation
Crummock Water & Buttermere - The Fish Hotel
A more informal option
than the Bridge Hotel. Again, it can't be faulted on its range of bar
meals, beer and accommodation.
Northern Lake District Pubs
Bassenthwaite - The Sun Inn
A good pub, with an ancient atmosphere
(including oak beams and open fires), supplying tasty bar food and with
the advantage of an outside beer garden. The pub has a very pleasant
ambience and will provide you with all the facilities you need to refresh
yourself if you're doing any of the fells round here.
Keswick - Bank Tavern
Because of the quality of the bar meals,
this pub is often very busy. It has a strong local following - always a
good sign! Jennings beer is served, and seems to be of consistently good
quality. It's a friendly and well kept hostelry.
Keswick - The Oddfellows Arms
A popular local pub with live music and a standard pub grub
menu. It also has a slightly more ambitious restaurant menu. Nice to see a
traditional pub! Very popular with locals and tourists alike.
Keswick - The Dog and Gun
One of Keswick's classic pubs, with slate
floor, old beams, and a changing selection of guest ales. An unpretentious
pub which is deservedly popular with everyone on account of its beer, food
and atmosphere. They offer very reasonably priced bar food all day.
There's a lovely warming log fire at one end with a bare slate floor.
Plenty of tables and chairs scattered around and good quality photos of
mountains on the walls.
Keswick - The Lake Road Inn
The new owners have put some
effort into the pub and especially into the tasty, fresh cooked food and
the Jennings' ales. Reliable food and beer - and good value.