Pubs, inns and bars

A warm welcome, a perfect pint, a plate of tasty food and a roaring fire in winter. Is there much more that walkers want after a day out on the fells? Fortunately, the Lake District and the rest of Cumbria have plenty of places to offer.

Pubs in the hills and ones beside the water, pubs with great views and places owned by the National Trust, wine bars and tapas bars, inns that brew their own beer and ones that are famous for food. Even a Michelin starred pub. Such is the variety in the county where over 120 places are listed in the Good Pub Guide 2021. 

One of the most striking things is the number of small breweries here - about 30 in all - which means that there’s a very strong chance of getting a real flavour of Cumbria when you step inside one of its many and varied pubs and bars. 

Below are 120 places to choose from, grouped according to towns and villages. The order will change every so often, to give everyone a chance of being near the top.

Askham, near Penrith. The Queen’s Head

Anyone familiar with Askham Hall (hotel), a few minutes walk away, and the George & Dragon pub at nearby Clifton will sense the same mix of informality, quirkiness and love of countryside when they step through the doors of this 17th century inn.

Clifton, near Penrith. George & Dragon

The George & Dragon is closed for the time being because of a fire in June 2022 but its sister pub, the Queen’s Head at Askham’ (see above), under four miles (6.4km) away, is offering an expanded lunch service. Both pubs and Askham Hall (hotel) are part of the Askham Collection. 

Crook, near Windermere. The Wild Boar

Who doesn’t warm to a blazing fire in a lovely old cooking range? That’s what to expect on cooler days when you step through the door of this well known, welcoming inn, four miles (6.4km) east of Bowness-on-Windermere on the B5284. 

Crosthwaite. The Punch Bowl Inn and Restaurant

‘Civilised dining pub with a proper bar and other elegant rooms, a fine wine list, impressive food and friendly staff; stylish bedrooms’. Such was the summary in the Good Pub Guide 2021 of this 300 year old inn on the edge of Crosthwaite village in the Lyth Valley. 

Great Corby, near Carlisle. The Queen Inn

Right beside the village green, opposite the old smithy, next door to a craft brewery, not far from the River Eden and a few miles from the North Pennines. What a setting for this 18th century pub in a village six miles (9.6km) from Carlisle. 

Loweswater. Kirkstile Inn

‘Well run, extremely well liked and surrounded by stunning walks,’ said the Good Pub Guide 2021 of this 16th century inn, a much loved pub in a glorious location, a few miles from the Georgian town of Cockermouth. The Kirkstile also has links to a Cumbrian brewery. 

Sedbergh. The Black Bull

Named North West Pub and Bar of the Year at the National Pub and Bar Awards 2022, this ‘acclaimed Yorkshire Dales gastropub’ - in the words of The Times - has certainly made a big name for itself since Nina Matsunaga and James Ratcliffe reopened here in 2018.

More pubs in Windermere, Ambleside and Bowness

This being the part of Cumbria most visited by tourists, expect a wide choice of bars and pubs in both towns and the country. A few are in glorious locations, some date back to the 17th century, one was the UK’s Inn of the Year in the Good Pub Guide 2019 and one boasts the ‘smallest pub in the Lake District’. 

More pubs in Grasmere, Hawkshead and Coniston

Given the wonderful countryside around Grasmere, Hawkshead and Coniston, don’t be surprised to find plenty of pubs in glorious locations. There are serious beer pubs, walkers’ favourites, a place once visited by William Wordsworth and a pub almost unchanged since the time of that great poet. 

More pubs in Northern Lakes, Keswick and Western Lakes

Britain’s ‘first co-operatively owned pub’, one that holds the ‘Biggest Liar in the World’ competition, pubs in beautiful locations and one associated with the earliest days of climbing in the Lake District. That’s a few of the pubs in an area which takes in Keswick, Cockermouth, the Northern Fells and some well known lakes. 

More pubs in Ullswater, Eden Valley and the North Pennines

One pub awarded with a Michelin star in early 2022, another one with all sorts of accolades, a bar belonging to a Cumbrian brewery and a couple of pubs owned by the community (one of them open in July 2022) are amongst the places in this north eastern part of the county.

More pubs in Kendal, Sedbergh and Cartmel

A pub that was named Newcomer of the Year at the Cumbria Food Awards 2022 and the Pub, Bar or Taproom of the Year at the same awards, a temperance inn and one of the great beer pubs of Cumbria are amongst the places in an area which takes in Kendal, Cartmel, Sedbergh and Kirkby Lonsdale.

More pubs in Carlisle, Hadrian’s Wall and Solway Coast

A pub with a Michelin Plate and three AA rosettes, a pub designed by a well known Carlisle State Management architect, a community-owned pub near the coast and one that’s close to the start/finish point of the Hadrian’s Wall path are amongst those places in an area which embraces Carlisle and the borderlands.

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