Whether you’ve just enjoyed a bracing walk up a fell, or simply had a hard week at work, heading out for some pub grub is just what the doctor ordered. Offering roaring fires in winter and beer gardens in summer, a pint of the local or a glass of something fizzy, and everything from gourmet grub to hearty classics, the pub has a pull on our heartstrings.
The Lakes offer up some of the best pubs – whether you fancy somewhere light, bright and modern, traditional and homely, or serving high-end fine dining, there’s something to suit every taste.
Read on for a list of some of the places serving up the best pub food in the Lake District.
The Drunken Duck
The Drunken Duck is a 300 year old traditional pub just a few miles outside Ambleside. Stunning fell views add to the charm and character, making this old inn a real favourite, for locals and tourists alike.
This welcoming local offers up a selection of local ales (there’s even an onsite brewery), and bar favourites, as well as a fab food menu. And the food is anything but traditional gastro. Alongside more classic offerings, all locally sourced, they serve up mouthwatering starters such as ‘teriyaki king oyster mushroom, charred melon, satay, sesame marshmallow’ and ‘lancashire cheese & chive soufflé, complemented by mains like ‘stone bass, jerusalem artichoke, gnocchi, artichoke velouté’ and ‘venison bourguignon suet pudding, sticky red cabbage’. The menu’s enough to get your tummy rumbling!
Address: Barngates Ambleside Cumbria LA22 0NG
This sensitively-restored 17th century inn in High Newton fulfills a rare brief. It serves fine dining food that attracts diners from near and far, alongside a menu of addictive bar snacks that keep the regulars, well, regular!
A calm Scandi-inspired dining room serves up their wonderful tasting menu (they won a Michelin star for the first time this year), whilst the bar offers a great selection of drinks and a menu of mouthwatering bar snacks like sausage rolls and hand pies. Check out our profile on Heft here for more on their award-winning cuisine.
Address: Newton in Cartmel, Grange over Sands, Cumbria, LA11 6JH
The Black Bull, Sedbergh
This restored 17th-century coaching inn is run by Nina and James (the chef and front of house respectively) and exudes style and character. Nestled into the foot of the Howgills, the Black Bull is an award-winning foodie haven, where Nina brings her Asian (and German) heritage to bear on wonderful locally-sourced produce. Head into their restaurant for a formal meal, or sit by the log burner and enjoy some of their wonderful snacks (don’t miss the ‘Crispy Korean Beef, Shiso & Sesame’) – or something a little heartier, such as their Howgill Hereford Beef Pie, Mash & Seasonal Greens’. And if moving anywhere after such a wonderful tummy-full sounds too much, head upstairs to one of their sumptuous and tranquil rooms, filled with local arts and crafts and replete with everything to make for an indulgent night’s sleep.
Address: 44 Main Street, Sedbergh, Cumbria, LA10 5BL
The Wild Boar
Situated in the peaceful (and exclusive – many of the county’s most luxurious hotels hide out here) Gilpin Valley, The Wild Boar is an English Lakes inn only a stone’s throw from the wonders of Windermere. The Wild Boar is home to the Lakes’ first restaurant smokehouse too, so a smokey insistence is sprinkled across the menu, from their inhouse smoked almonds to smoked Loch Duart salmon and even smoked hummus! Don’t miss the alternative afternoon tea menu if a Lakes Afternoon Tea with a twist is what you fancy – think sliders and scotch eggs instead of the traditional crustless sarnie! The cosy wooden interiors and open fires make this the perfect respite from a spate of winter weather, so cosy up and get comfy.
Address: Windermere – LA23 3NF
The Punch Bowl Inn
The Punch Bowl’s reputation precedes it, and it’s a reputation it deserves. Set in the village of Crosthwaite in the less visited but stunning Lyth Valley, the Punch Bowl combines traditional cosiness with high-standard dining to great result. Winners of the AA Inn of the Year 2023, enjoy the same wonderful food offering either in the slate-floored bar or the more formal restaurant. Think starters like ‘Crab Salad – white crab, basil oil, heritage tomato, olive pureé, crouton’ and mains of ‘Guinea Fowl – creamed potatoes, wild mushroom, fresh truffle, tarragon sauce’. Or you could keep it simple with a hearty soup of the day, or classic Ploughman’s lunch. A great wine list and ale offering will round out your trip nicely!
Address: Crosthwaite, Lyth Valley, LA8 8HR
The Dog & Gun, Skelton
This Michelin-starred pub will belie all your preconceptions of what it means to be Michelin-starred. Welcoming, informal, and cosy, the Dog & Gun offers a menu full of dishes that are fancy, but approachable with it – for example ‘Twice-baked Torpenhow Cheese & Chive Soufflé’, ‘28-Day-Aged Chateaubriand for Two with Peppercorn Sauce, Seasonal Greens and Vinaigrette and Truffle and Parmesan Chips’, and ‘Cartmel Valley Venison Suet Pudding, Beetroot Cooked in Duck Fat, Beer Mustard and Chips’. The exterior is unassuming; you wouldn’t expect fine dining to lurk within, but the comfy wooden interiors continue the traditional pub feel and cosiness, making for a real pub lunch to remember.
Address: Skelton, Penrith CA11 9SE
Hole int Wall
With a history going back to 1612, Hole In ’T Wall proudly declares itself ‘the oldest pub in Bowness’ with a claim to have served famous local poet William Wordsworth as a regular in the early 19th century. Tucked away in the quieter part of town, Hole In ‘T Wall is ruggedly un-restored, with stone flags on the floors, low beams cutting across overhead and nic-nacs aplenty. Serving Robinson’s Ales, as well as gins and rums, they also serve up a homely menu of pub classics from ‘Pork Pie & Scratchings – apple and piccalilli chutney’ to ‘Beef & Ale Pie – puff pastry lid, chips and vegetables’. There’s a (heated) outdoor terrace to make the most of sunny moments, too.
Address: Robinson Pl, Bowness-on-Windermere, Windermere LA23 3DH
The Beer Hall, Hawkshead Brewery
Deceptively based in Staveley rather than Hawkskead, you’ll find no further unwanted surprises when you arrive at the Hawkshead Beer Hall -a Brewery Tap, Sampling Room, Beer Shop and Visitors Centre all rolled into one. The stars of the shows are the renowned beers, but they have a great menu of bar bites, too, to complement your snifters of ale – think the Beer Hall board (a mixture of cured meats and cheeses), a mouthwatering toastie, or selection of mini mezze.
Address: Mill Yard, Staveley, Cumbria, LA8 9LR.
Cuckoo Brow Inn
The Cuckoo Brow Inn offers real ales, great food, and comfy accommodation close to the charming town of Hawkshead, just one mile from the Western shores of Lake Windermere. Cosy up by the log fire and enjoy a homemade scotch egg, steak and Guinness pie, or beer-battered fish and chips. Chock-full of the classics, served up with that little bit more time and effort, this is serious restaurant quality made approachable. Cuckoo Brow’s menu is welcoming, comforting, and bound to leave every tummy satisfied.
Address: Far Sawrey, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 0LQ
The General Burgoyne is another Robinson’s pub, set in the stunning South Lakes in the sleepy village of Great Urswick. The stereotypical Lakeland pub, you’ll find fires a-blazing, wooden beams, flagged floors and cosy seating areas at the General Burgoyne. That’s all to complement some classically well-kept beer lines, and a surprising menu full of interesting but unfaffy dishes, such as ‘Potted Beef with Mini Yorkshire Pudding & horseradish’, ‘English Asparagus with parmesan & soft boiled egg’, or ‘Half pint of prawns with Marie Rose & Baby Gem’ as starters. Follow these tasty morsels up with the likes of ‘Harissa marinated cauliflower & Spiced Chickpeas & pomegranate’, ‘Cumbrian pork chop with confit potato, fennel & apple salad’ or a classic – ‘Chicken Kiev with fries and rocket & tomato salad’.
Address: Church Road, Great Urswick, Ulverston, LA12 0SX
The Mortal Man
Troutbeck village is mostly quiet and secluded – always surprising given its location only two miles from bustling Windermere town. The Mortal Man’s beer garden affords lovely views over those two miles, right down to the Lake, and is the perfect spot in which to catch some late afternoon rays. Head inside and you’ll find a traditional, welcoming bar – all beams, solid wood tables, and open fires – and plenty of locally-brewed cask ales. These are complemented by a host of guest beers, as well as an all-day menu of pub classics. Indulge in a chicken and mushroom pie, homemade burger, or gammon steak – or one of the daily specials. Honest, simple, and hearty, it’s what you need after a wander up the fells.
Address: Troutbeck, Windermere LA23 1PL
It’s hard to know where to stop when talking about the best pub food in the Lakes! But we hope the above will serve as inspiration as you dive into the plethora of pubs the Lake District provides!