The Black Bull Inn is located in the heart of Conniston. While this does mean it is on the main junction in the village (but what does 'busy' in the Lake District really mean?), you can happily watch the world, and their dog, go by in the sun-trap beer garden, get a bit more cosy in one of the many rooms inside, or grab a seat at the bar.
The Black Bull does good grub, but the reason you should stop off here is for the beers - as the Conniston Brewing Company brews next door (spy their hydrometers and tanks from the car park if you are a real real ale fan) and so they serve lots of their beers on tap or by the bottle.
We were luckily enough to stop for a pint the day after their Barley Wine had been crowned Champion Beer at the GBBF.
Lovely tranquil setting with an idyllic garden facing the mountain of Melbreak. Off the main tourist track but still very busy in the early evening, although you can get away from the hustle and bustle in the cosy dining room. The food is freshly cooked mainly from local ingredients, from steak and ale pie (small portions available) to pork tenderloin and fillet steak. The pub has its own brewery, now based in Hawkshead, producing a range of very drinkable ales, including the long-established Melbreak Bitter, Langdale and Esthwaite Bitters and the award-winning Loweswater Gold. There are many walks surrounding the Buttermere Valley and the Honister Rambler bus service is very useful if you only want to walk in one direction. Less-crowded walks are possible in the Loweswater Fells and on Melbreak and the smaller Hen Comb, or even just along the shores of Loweswater or Crummock Water. Comfortable rooms each with their own individual characteristics and good views.
Cockermouth, Loweswater, Cumbria CA13 0RU
On a recent visit to Keswick, I discovered a delicious solution to the often difficult problem of dining out while traveling with children. I found a courtyard tucked behind a pub (Kings Arms), a sports bar (Casa's Bar) and a pizzeria (LB's Pizza House) that was perfect for family dining. With the courtyard setting, we could dine outdoors, catch a favorite sport on TV, and enjoy a mix of food and beverage from any or all of these three establishments. Our goal that evening was to watch the gold medal Women's football match of the summer Olympics, and the bar tender from Casa's accommodated us by finding the game on the television set near our table. Along with pints of ale and cider carried out from the bar for refreshment, we ate some of the best pizza I've ever had, a thin and crispy, spicy hot Diavolo that had been stonebaked in a wood fired oven (with margherita pizza for the kids, of course.) The meal was so delicious we ordered another pizza and had a second round of drinks to take us through the second half of the football match. My only regret at the end of the evening was that we were far too full to finish the feast with a sticky toffee pudding.
23 Main Street Keswick, Cumbria CA12 5BL
+44(0)800 840 1241
Google map: bit.ly/OIytx8
The Masons Arms is a what people hope for in a Lake District inn, it’s a quaint old building full of character with dining available in lots of nooks and crannies. They sell an excellent range of beers and offer a full menu with lots of traditional favourites alongside some more unusual options such as ale and cheddar rarebit. In good weather the great range of light bites make it the ideal place to stop for lunch; sit outside on the terrace with the birds singing and take in the fantastic views over the valley.
The Brown Horse is situated in the heart of the Lake District, but slightly off the beaten track in an unspoilt area with great views over rolling fields. The inn has a welcoming rustic atmosphere with wooden beams, a flagged floor and a real open fire. Much of the delicious food is grown onsite or sourced locally, with regional specialties such as Cumberland sausage and Lakeland lamb on the menu. Wash your meal down with a pint of real ale; the pub brews its own and has a great selection on tap.
The Sawrey Hotel on the road between Hawkshead and the car ferry across Windermere re-emerged from a makeover recently as the Cuckoo Brow Inn. Food is served every day from noon until 9pm and is excellent. They pride themselves on sourcing as much as possible from within a 20 mile radius - and with good local beers to boot. They genuinely welcome walkers, cyclists, wet dogs and noisy children - we often eat there with our muddy Springer after walks across the local fells without feeling like social lepers. In our view, best enjoyed when it's cold outside with a roaring fire blazing in the hearth in the centre of the bar - so July or August then.
This is a truly welcoming pub – we’ve visited in autumn when the open fires provided much needed warmth after a day on the fells. Our last visit was earlier this summer, when the splendid garden proved a sun trap (yes we were there on one of the few days the sun shone this summer.) The bar area is made up of three small, cosy rooms and there is a good choice of refreshment – in both food and drink.
Traditional country hotel offering the best of Cumbrian Hospitality. Excellent breakfast, good beer, comfortable accommodation and luxurious toiletries. We were made extremely welcome and the food was perfect.
For those whose appetites don't stretch to a full meal, there can be no finer pub in Lakeland than the Golden Rule. Beautifully unchanged in decades, it is a haven for locals, walkers, tourists and anyone lucky enough to stumble across this hidden gem off the main street. Food is limited to excellent pork pies and scotch eggs and the ale is all from local breweries. Evening guests may find themselves participants in an impromptu singsong. A national treasure.
The Kirkstile Inn is tucked away under the fells of the western Lakes and is a must for anyone seeking excellent food (and real ale) with glorious scenery thrown in. The menu is far removed from the usual scampi and chips; much of the food is locally sourced and contributes to such delights as the Cumbrian steak and ale pie and slow roasted Lakeland lamb. Vegetarians are equally well catered for, and desserts are superb (try the Eton Mess with damson sloe gin berry compote). The Inn serves excellent real ale, including the award winning Loweswater Gold.
Most free houses have real ales, but this pub has its own on site brewery too (try the Tag Lag). It's seventh heaven for beer lovers. And foodies. The restaurant is stuffed with delicious locally sourced food (the game pie is to die for) and the wine list is big enough to suit all tastes and pockets. After all the fine dining and beery imbibing at lunchtime you won't want to move, so book a room and enjoy it all over again at dinnertime!
This friendly pub with its own brewery, a huge range of real ales, real pub games, newspapers and comfy chairs and newspapers prides itself on "food for drinkers" - all made to order on Fridays and weekends. After a hike up Black Combe, to contemplate the late Harry Griffin's favourite view, the pies, with a filling of your choice are well worth the half-hour wait as they cook. Opposite the railway station on the West Cumbrian line it's an old fashioned pub with a wonderful panorama of the Duddon estuary. Cumbria for those who know it and accessible to all.
Notwithstanding Mike Harding's quip about Barrow being 'a town at the end of a 32 mile cul-de-sac', south Lakes is an un-touristy (aka quiet) and stunning part of the Lake District. Great Urswick is a sleepy, pretty village, all whitewashed cottages and a tarn complete with ducks, and the pub is a cracker. Roaring fires, flagged floors and cosy snugs, well-kept beer and a menu that might surprise you. Chef/owner Craig Sherrington is doing clever things with local produce (expect sea bass, mackerel and rabbit) in an innovative but unpretentious way. Avoid the crowds in Ambleside and Windermere; this place is a treasure.
It is in the perfect spot for taking on the Buttermere Circuit or the gentler option of walking around the lake. It’s a small and friendly site with great views and is away from the road so nice and quiet, bar the lambs whose barring might wake you up early doors. Get your revenge on them by tucking into the delicious spring lamb, the best thing on the menu at the Bridge Inn just two minutes from the site. It’s a hikers' pub with a garden and good selection of ales.
017687 70222 , www.lakedistrictcamping.co.uk, £5pp
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
Fantastic pub for lunch after a hard morning's hike - the ploughman's lunch plus a pint of Black Sheep or Riggwelter, both glorious darker ales from the Masham brewery, sets you up for the rest of the day. The bar is to be found in the converted stables, the white-washed walls and horse brasses don't attempt to hide the humble beginnings of the place, far from it, the bar is a cosy and even on busy weekends, often a fairly quiet spot to have a meal or just a drink. Dog friendly too, we've taken ours into the bar without problems, or there are tables outside if your pooch is wary of other people. Decidely a locals' pub, it is nonetheless a friendly place to escape from the hordes of tourists around Beatrix Potter's house in near Sawrey. Having never stayed in the hotel I can't comment but if the bar is anything to go by it should be great!
Far Sawrey, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 0LQ
Telephone: 01539 443425
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org