Clifton near Penrith. George & Dragon

This pub 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, has six bedrooms.

One of 40 pubs ‘ideal for spring,’ said the i newspaper of the George & Dragon in March 2022; one of 20 ‘top pubs for lazy autumn afternoons,’ said The Times in late autumn 2021.

That gives a pretty good idea of what to expect at this former coaching inn, two miles (3.2km) south of Penrith on the A6 and a regular stop for those travelling between England and Scotland. It’s also an excellent base for visitors who want to be within easy striking distance of the Lake District, the Eden Valley and the North Pennines.

The pub was bought by Charles Lowther, youngest son of the 7th Earl of Lonsdale, and his late mother Caroline in 2008, with major refurbishment then adding the style and comfort of the new to the charm and character of the old. 

Upstairs are 11 ‘stylish and comfortable’ bedrooms, some modest in size, two or three bigger ones at the front. But they’re all distinguished by individual and attractive touches: antiques here and there, crewel work on headboards and blinds, and photographs from the Lowther family archives, including pictures of Lowther Castle just down the road. Some bathrooms have roll top baths, some walk-in showers.

Downstairs is a homely, flagstoned bar and an 80 seat restaurant, the kitchens supplied with meat and game and a lot of the vegetables by nearby Askham Hall (in the same ownership) or from the wider Lowther Estate.

The George & Dragon was in the Good Food Guide 2020 (no 2021 edition), the Good Pub Guide 2021 and is in the Good Hotel Guide 2022.

George & Dragon, Clifton, near Penrith CA10 2ER: 01768 865381, www.georgeanddragonclifton.co.uk There’s seating outside at the front, a walled courtyard garden and secure storage for bikes.

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