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Sherpa Expeditions’ resident guide frequently walks in the Lake District and on parts of the Cumbria Way. On those walks a break at one of the many pubs is a given. In this article, he lists some of the best pubs on the Cumbria Way.
The Cumbria Way bisects the Lake District and brings your boots to the doors of a fair number of the UK’s finest pubs that you could want to visit, serving famed beers from the likes of Jennings, Thwaites, Hartleys and Theakstons, as well as some fine ales from smaller local breweries. These pubs historically, as well as today, are often essential for bringing communities together and are cosy to hop into after a day walking in the mixed Lake District weather. The most natural thing to do after a long day walking is to settle into a pub for a friendly chat with the locals, their dogs and other walkers.
The typical pub here is usually a variation along a theme of a whitewashed stone building with sash windows and a slate roof, some were farms dating back 300-500 years ago, some were coaching inns, some are tiny while some have been remodelled – particularly in Victorian times when a lot of lakeland villages became fashionable.
Not another fine mess, but a nice little pub. From the outside it looks just like your typical whitewashed country pub, but it is a ‘shrine’ to the town’s most famous son abounding with photos, figures and memorabilia from Laurel & Hardy’s history on the screen. There are at least six real ale draughts on at any time and the beer is kept very well. Most are from the Ulverston area. Get a tray of three third-pints in case you can’t choose between them!
A small charming pub – a ‘Freehouse’ – meaning that it is not tied to any particular brewery. It regularly changes its beers and is very welcoming at just a mile off route.
This is a traditional country pub half a mile from Coniston Village. Dating back to the 17th century it is a lovely open fire and oak beam affair. Popular with the locals for food and the draught beer selection. There is also a lovely beer garden.
Despite a mock tudor exterior, this pub is actually 400 years old and has great reviews for the food.
This is a rather Victorian-ified farm from the 1500s. It’s a classic and one that you will almost certainly have to visit as virtually every walker in Britain will have heard of it. The ‘Hikers’ Bar’ is where you will meet walkers, mountaineers and locals and you could have done so over 100 years ago. Originally this was a cow barn and there are still animal stalls in the pub. The hotel sits in the fields of Great Langdale, laced with a network of drystone walls retaining the Herdwick sheep who look up to the peaks of Langdale and Bowfell.
A lovely pub in a tiny village of former miners cottages, who once split slates at the nearby Honister Slate Mine. Now, the whole area comes under the jurisdiction of the National Trust. The original building was built around 1590 and there is the traditional slate roof, sash windows and whitewashed façade. There is a tiny beer garden across the road, but the midges might drive you back into the pub on a summer’s evening. Once inside, you will find a homely bar, an excellent bistro and a cosy lounge. Very popular with walkers and a really quiet location as there is only really farm through traffic. It has a good range of Jennings Beer.
This was a Georgian residence by the shore of Elterwater and with lovely views over Little Elterwater. The bar has a slate-floor and a huge inglenook fireplace, a smart dining room for supper, and a drawing room stocked with coffee-table books. You can also borrow a rowing boat.
A recently refurbished traditional pub on Lake Road in Keswick town centre which has great reviews. They are proud to provide up to eight real ales, all from Cumbrian breweries. It was West Cumbria branch of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale)’s Pub of The Year 2016 and one of only two Keswick pubs included in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide for 2017. It was a finalist for Pub of The Year in The Great Outdoors Magazine Awards 2016.
Does this make you wonder what some of the UK’s other best pubs are? Sherpa Expeditions have an overview of some of the best pubs in the UK for walkers, including along Hadrian’s Wall, the Coast to Coast, and Dorset & Wessex Trails.
You can get the guidebook from Cicerone Press.