If you want to flee the twee and get a real taste for the open country, this is the place: a traditional cosy pub with stone floors and open fires between Kendal and Bowness. We didn't try the food, which is meant to be good, as we got stuck into the beers, particularly the local Coniston Bluebird, and Theakston's Best Bitter. Very friendly and full of locals when we went.
Crook, Kendal LA8 8LA
Tel: 01539 821351
This is one of those country pubs where, upon first entering after a long day's hike, you wonder whether you've mistakenly barged into someone's front room. Sure enough, you do have to keep the house rules in mind: live music only (no jukebox); make an effort to chat with the regulars; and number one, real ales only. Anyone asking for a lager top or a snowball or something will be greeted with a disdainful stare that could dry up Lake Coniston...
But play the game at this very independent family-run venue and your reward will be a fine selection of beers at rock-bottom prices and a genuinely hospitable local atmosphere, where the folks know everything about the area and will give you far more tips than this site ever can. Lastly - if you're lucky - beyond the usual bar meals at lunchtime, plates of free pub nosh have been known to come out from time to time to help soak up the ale.
Foxfield, Broughton-in-Furness, Cumbria, LA20 6BX
Tel: 01229 716238
Off the A5092 or opposite Foxfield station
The King's Head serves an array of Jennings ales and, in a county with more pubs than you could care to mention, is loaded with character. For a start, it's haunted - weird noises late at night have often been reported, and a couple of Australians staying there recently were so spooked they left town.
The pub was built in 1640, and as recently as 2003 refurbishments turned up a deep well in the corner of the main bar, now covered over with a glass plate. There's a beer garden and a bowling green, formerly the stables and paddock from when this was a coaching inn. There are four rooms with shared bath too (£25), a great place to start or finish the Cumbria Way.
14 Queen's Street, Ulverston
Tel: 01229 588064
(not to be confused with The King's Arms on King Street)
A truly excellent high quality restaurant in one of the best and most interesting large villages/small towns in the southern Lakes.
Three pubs in the village itself, one (the Manor) has the best selection of beer in the county, another (Old King's Head) has the best pub food in the area, and the third (the Black Cock) has its own unique character.
Broughton-in-Furness on the A595, at the head of the estuary of Wordsworth's river, the Duddon.
A Lakeland institution and a top spot to drink in the stunning views as well as the local ale. You might need to book to eat in the restaurant, but the pub grub is top notch – I’d recommend the ploughman’s, stuffed full of local produce.
Barngates, Ambleside LA22 0NG
Tel: 01539 436 347
Restaurant, cafe, jazz bar and cinema all rolled into one! Located in Ambleside, I have been visiting this place for over 20 years. In that time it’s gone through some changes but it still remains a wonderful place to go especially now with the addition of a jazz bar playing live jazz most Saturdays.
The restaurant and cafe are veggie but the kind of veggie that makes you want to convert! Cinema has four screens – two in the main building and two just down the road on the edge of the beautiful park. Go for the ‘movie deal’ (cinema ticket and meal) then afterwards listen to jazz for one of the best nights out in the Lakes!
Tel: 015394 33845
A small island just off the coast of Barrow-in-Furness, the small island of Piel still has the remains of medieval fortifications that once protected the harbour. Admittedly, Piel is small, but it does offer a few items of interest - the remains of a red stone castle, which is fun to climb on and walk through; a nice stroll along the shore among the sea grasses and the shore birds; and a visit to the King of Piel, who runs the pub.We had a great time, in a low-key, understated kind of way.
A few boat rides from Barrow-in-Furness:
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