While the Lake District might be best known for its dramatic hillsides and abundance of glacial lakes, it’s also home to a wonderful selection of country pubs and breweries. Whether you’re a fan of real ale or perhaps just looking for somewhere cosy to enjoy a family lunch, we’ve picked out our favourite destinations.
Our definitive guide to the best bars and country pubs in the Lake District covers everything from historic inns to award-winning gastropubs. Why not take a look and see where you can visit during your stay in Cumbria?
Many of the pubs in the Lake District have a longstanding history - some of which are purported to be haunted by previous residents and patrons! While we can’t promise you’ll bump into any Cumbrian spectres, we can guarantee that you’ll experience a traditional, inviting atmosphere in these top five historic pubs:
The origins of the Kirkstone Pass Inn start in 1496 AD when it was once linked to an ancient monastery high up on the Kirkstone Pass. Nowadays, it’s become a popular pub serving up award-winning local ales and a tasty menu - be sure to try their homemade Steak and Ale Pie!
Address: Ambleside, Cumbria, Ambleside LA22 9LQ
Telephone: 015394 33888
Very much a traditional pub, The Drunken Duck is set just a couple of miles outside of Ambleside. Cosy and quirky in equal measures, this lovely pub offers an excellent choice of local ales as well as a tasty lunch and dinner menu - with dishes including venison bourguignon suet pudding and fresh halibut. It was first converted into a pub more than 300 years ago!
Address: Barngates, Ambleside LA22 0NG
Telephone: 015394 36347
Holding the title as one of the oldest pubs in the Lake District, The George has a long-standing history dating back to 1665. Many of its original features have been retained in the pub’s interior, including the huge beamed ceilings and cosy open fires. A lovely pitstop on a cool autumn day!
Address: 3 St John's St, Keswick CA12 5AZ
Telephone: 017687 72076
The Hole in t' Wall is another historic pub, set in the beautiful surroundings of Windermere. Established in 1612, one of its regular patrons during the early 19th century used to be the famed English Romantic poet, William Wordsworth.
Address: Robinson Pl, Bowness-on-Windermere, Windermere LA23 3DH
Telephone: 015394 43488
The Mortal Man has a cosy, inviting atmosphere - ideal for grabbing a quick drink or settling down for a hearty lunch. Back in 1689, the pub was originally known as ‘The White House’, which eventually ended up being dropped in favour of the ‘Mortal Man’ - based on a rhyme once painted onto the inn’s sign.
Emily, from The Mortal Man had this to share with us: “The inn sign was painted by a famous painter of the day called Julius Caesar Ibbetson.
An even older legend is the story that a great giant, named Hird, is buried beneath The Mortal Man. Feared by locals, Hird would roam the hillsides, uprooting trees and hurling boulders in his drunken rampages.
One evening, says the legend, the giant perished up on Wansfell and his huge corpse rolled right down the fell, coming to rest on this very spot, where he was buried. It is amusing to think that perhaps such a creature, (which must of in his day) seemed immortal, has his final resting place beneath an inn bearing such a name now.”
Address: Troutbeck, Windermere LA23 1PL
Telephone: 015394 33193
Enjoy lunch with a view from these popular pubs. Whether you’re after somewhere close to the water or perhaps nestled among the wild hillsides of the Lake District, these gorgeous establishments are sure to please:
Nestled at the foothills of Buttermere’s craggy mountains, the Bridge Hotel boasts an incredibly scenic beer garden. A gorgeous place to sit and soak up the scenery on a summer’s day - you’ll soon find yourself mesmerised by the stunning landscapes before you.
Address: Lake District National Park, Buttermere, CA13 9UZ
Telephone: 017687 70252
The Wasdale Head Inn prides itself on being next to the highest mountain, close to the smallest church, and beside the deepest lake in the national park - all of which makes for an incredibly scenic pub.
Nigel, from the Wasdale Head Inn says "The Inn remains true to its heritage as the Birthplace of British Climbing, welcoming walkers, families and dogs who can enjoy the views with our outdoor service, or the warm log fire indoors on the odd day that it rains."
Address: Wasdale Head, Gosforth CA20 1EX
Telephone: 019467 26229
Set at the foot of Mellbreak Close, Kirkstile Inn is close to a whole host of Lake District beauty spots. Crummock Water, Buttermere, and Loweswater are all within easy reach - making it an excellent pitstop for hikers exploring the area.
Address: Loweswater, Cockermouth CA13 0RU
Telephone: 01900 85219
A gorgeous lakeside retreat just outside the bustling market town of Keswick, the Lodore Falls Hotel & Spa is backed by lush woodlands and faces the still waters of Derwentwater.
Address: Lodore Falls Hotel & Spa, Borrowdale Valley, Keswick, Cumbria. CA12 5UX
Telephone: 0330 0564 886
Nestled in the peaceful village of Uldale, The Snooty Fox is a wonderful place to spend a sunny afternoon. Offering a good selection of cask ales, fine wines and malt whiskies, you’ll have plenty of choice when it comes to choosing a refreshing tipple. Close by, there are lots of gorgeous walking routes in the Caldbeck Fells.
Address: Uldale, Wigton CA7 1HA
Telephone: 016973 71479
Whether you fancy an evening meal or a hearty lunch, these places offer tasty pub grub in a lovely setting. Many are within walking distance of the region’s most popular attractions - such as the World of Beatrix Potter and Windermere Lake - ideal for popping into after a busy day of sightseeing:
A quaint country pub with gorgeous views across Grizedale, The Eagles Head is a lovely setting for a traditional Sunday lunch. Serving up a mouthwatering carvery between 12pm and 5pm, you’ll have the choice of pork, turkey, beef or lamb - served with crispy roast potatoes and a selection of vegetables.
Address: Satterthwaite, Ulverston LA12 8LN
Telephone: 01229 860237
The Pig is a fabulous place to grab a light lunch or an afternoon drink. Both a cafe and a bar, you can enjoy a selection of regional draught beers while tucking into a ‘pig platter’ or a fresh beer-battered haddock with chunky chips.
Address: 13 Crescent Rd, Windermere LA23 1EA
Telephone: 01539 234220
One of Kendal’s oldest-surviving inns, Ye Olde Fleece Inn reopened its doors as a stylish gastropub while keeping much of its original charm. Dishes include homemade steak and ale pie and Cumberland sausage - a regional favourite!
Address: 14 Highgate, Kendal LA9 4SX
Telephone: 01539 731115
Sat right at the shores of Lake Windermere, Boaters Bar offers a comprehensive drinks menu, from inventive cocktails to traditional Cumbrian ales. They also serve up a delicious selection of stonebaked pizzas that feature an array of tasty toppings.
Address: Quays, Glebe Rd, Bowness-on-Windermere, Windermere LA23 3HE
Telephone: 015394 46842
Situated in the town of Bowness-on-Windermere, The Flying Pig offers a delightful seasonal menu crafted from quality, local produce wherever possible. From fresh mussels to slowly braised lamb, there’s something for everyone.
Address: Rayrigg Rd, Bowness-on-Windermere, Windermere LA23 3BZ
Telephone: 015394 23023
Love checking out the local music scene whenever you go away? These lively pubs offer more than just a good selection of wines and spirits - with live music events throughout the week:
A fabulous party venue in the town of Bowness-on-Windermere, Baha boasts a funky cocktail bar, a private karaoke pod and an array of live music events throughout the year.
Address: 18 Ash St, Bowness-on-Windermere, Windermere LA23 3EB
Telephone: 01539 277515
Odd Frog is a unique music venue in Barrow-in-Furness, offering up cocktails, tapas, craft beer on tap, and even freshly brewed coffees. There’s also a restaurant on-site, serving a variety of unique plant-based dishes.
Address: 121, 123 Duke St, Barrow-in-Furness LA14 1XA
Telephone: 01229 206606
Old Friends Pub is a traditional real ale pub, offering six of its own beers on tap. It has a real friendly vibe and is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike. If you feel confident enough, you can even pick up the resident guitar and play a tune (or leave it up to the talented locals!).
Address: 49 Soutergate, Ulverston LA12 7ES
Telephone: 01229 208195
From laidback acoustic sets to heavy rock, Bootlegger’s Bar hosts something for everyone. The bar has live music every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday - as well as having a DJ on Saturday nights.
Address: 24 Finkle St, Kendal LA9 4AB
Telephone: 01539 723824
Ambleside Tavern typically offers live music on Friday and Saturday nights and is a particular favourite among locals in the area. This relaxed and unfussy pub is ideal for grabbing a drink or two and having a listen to some of the local musical talent.
Address: 4 Millans Park, Ambleside LA22 9AG
Telephone: 015394 33306
If you’re planning something a little extra special, then these pubs might just be what you need. From locally-sourced delights to dishes inspired by cuisines from a little further afield, we’ve chosen our top five destinations for tasty, unique food:
Inspired by the seasons and by French cuisine, The Punch Bowl Inn offers a delightful menu full of unique combinations. Some of their favourite dishes include a twice-baked Lancashire cheese soufflé and for those with a sweet tooth - their lemon tart with damson sorbet.
Address: Crosthwaite, Lyth Valley, Kendal LA8 8HR
Telephone: 015395 68237
At The Crafty Baa, you can tuck into craft dishes from local suppliers, including artisan bread and their much-loved camembert dishes, infused with honey, pear and cinnamon - to name just a few.
Address: 21 Victoria St, Windermere LA23 1AB
Telephone: 015394 88002
The Brown Horse Inn is a historic Georgian coaching inn, offering a seasonal, locally sourced menu. Their head chef was awarded Pub Chef of the Year 2020, so you can expect top-quality meals when you dine here - from pan-fried monkfish tail to game of the day.
Address: A5074 Nr Windermere, Windermere LA23 3NR
Telephone: 015394 43443
KITTchEN is an independent craft-beer specialist in Ambleside, as well as being the home of seven rescue cats. A must-visit for any feline fans, this unique bar has an excellent selection of Cumbrian beer that’s definitely worth checking out.
Emma, from KITTchEN says: ‘“We are a craft-beer specialist with eight ever-changing kegs lines, plus over 60 bottles & cans from small, independent breweries which can be enjoyed in the bar or taken home from our shop and webshop. We champion Cumbrian beer, with brews from Fell Brewery, TractorShed & Lakes Brew Co. We are both child-free and dog-free, making us a purrfect sanctuary for anyone looking for a decent, quiet pint.
I'd also add that while our food menu is awesome, our emphasis is very much more on beers: our kitchen is tiny and manned by only one person so anyone visiting for a few beers and some food to soak up the alcohol will have a great time, but anyone visiting specifically for lunch may find they have a long wait and little to kill that time if they're not on a sesh.”
Address: The Square, Hawkshead, Ambleside LA22 0NZ
Telephone: 015394 36920
Sat at the top of a hill between Lake Windermere and Hawkshead, Cuckoo Brow Inn is a lovely setting for a relaxed lunch. Their head chef has been awarded the AA Rosette for Culinary Excellence multiple times - a testament to the quality of the food you can expect to enjoy here.
Address: Far Sawrey, Ambleside LA22 0LQ
Telephone: 015394 43425
From gooey toffee and zesty gingerbread to hearty Herdwick hogget, Cumbria has a whole host of regional dishes for you to try.
Featured on nearly every dessert menu across the UK, the humble sticky toffee pudding is revered for its gooey goodness. If you’ve yet to try it, the pudding consists of a moist sponge cake made with dates, topped with an indulgent toffee sauce - and often served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
As the name suggests, Cumberland sausages originated from the historic county of Cumberland - which eventually became part of Cumbria as we know it today. These sausages are traditionally served in a circular coil and are made with pork meat infused with herbs, pepper and spices.
While many think of gingerbread as a festive treat, it’s a perennial staple in the village of Grasmere. The tiny and unassuming Grasmere Gingerbread Shop has been making these delicious treats to a tried-and-tested recipe by the Victorian cook, Sarah Nelson, dating all the way back to 1854.
Herdwick sheep are native to the region, and you can usually pick up some tasty cuts of lamb or hogget from any local butcher in the Lake District. Hogget is the term given to meat from sheep aged between one to two years - slightly older than lamb, but not quite as aged as mutton.
There are plenty of options for those bringing their pooches along for an adventure in the Lake District. Here are some of the most popular dog-friendly establishments in the region:
The Dog and Gun is a cosy dog-friendly pub in Keswick, serving up a selection of small plates and plenty of traditional pub grub options.
Klaudy and The Dog & Gun Team shared this with us: “We are very dog friendly! Free drinks for dogs - we also sell dog treats with all profit going to local charities. We are creating a special dog menu which should be ready end of April! Loads of dog competitions, Facebook dog of the month starting in March. Dogs are welcome everywhere!”
Address: 2 Lake Rd, Keswick CA12 5BT
Telephone: 017687 73463
For tasty food and a relaxed atmosphere, the Westmorland Inn in Bowness-on-Windermere is perfect. This pub is particularly dog-friendly - they even allow well-behaved pooches to stay in their rooms.
Address: Lake Rd, Bowness-on-Windermere, Windermere LA23 3AP
Telephone: 015394 44078
As previous winners of the CAMRA ‘Pub of the Season’ award, you can expect a good variety of ales and beers at the dog-friendly Derby Arms. They also host a weekly onsite popup pizza restaurant - ideal for refuelling after a busy day in the mountains!
Address: Grange-over-Sands, LA11 6RH
Telephone: 015395 52207
For good food and a toasty wood fire to warm you up on chilly nights, look no further than Wainwright’s Inn. Whether you’re just popping in for a quick drink or to perhaps sample their delicious lunch menu, this traditional inn is well worth a visit. Your pooch is sure to love the toasty open fire in the bar!
Address: Chapel Stile, Ambleside LA22 9JD
Telephone: 015394 38088
The Pheasant Inn is a 17th-century coaching inn, with a toasty log burner and plenty of comfy chairs to sink into after a good walk with your four-legged friend. They also offer an excellent seasonal menu.
Address: Bassenthwaite Lake, Cockermouth CA13 9YE
Telephone: 017687 76234
Whether you’re looking for somewhere with a roaring fire to warm up after a family walk, or perhaps somewhere with an excellent children’s menu - you’ll find a whole host of great options to enjoy a tasty lunch together in the Lake District:
A family-friendly pub close to Lake Windermere, The Sun Inn is a great place to grab a bite to eat at lunchtime. From moules mariniere to butternut gobi dhansak, there’s something to suit every palate.
Alex from The Sun Inn says, “The Sun Inn is situated halfway between Ambleside and Windermere and the perfect place to stop off for a bite to eat. We offer a Main and Dessert for £4.99 for children and dogs are more than welcome. There is free parking on-site and a spacious beer garden which captures the sun all day long.
We also have a sister site in Windermere village, The Queens. One of the cheapest pubs in Windermere showing sport all day long. Families and dogs are more than welcome and there are beer gardens to the front and rear of the pub.”
Address: Troutbeck Bridge, Windermere, Lake District, LA23 1HH
Telephone: 01539 766658
The Station Inn is a family-friendly pub offering a quiet retreat from the bustling streets of Kendal. They also offer an extensive ‘bistro-style’ lunch and dinner menu, featuring dishes such as smoked Cumbrian bacon carbonara and homemade steak and mushroom pie.
Address: Oxenholme, Kendal LA9 7RF
Telephone: 01539 724094
Nestled amid the peaceful surroundings of the Southern Lake District, the Masons Arms is a great place to stop by and enjoy a home-cooked lunch together. On sunny days, the beer garden offers a very scenic spot to tuck into a tasty meal.
Address: Strawberry Bank, Grange-over-Sands LA11 6NW
Telephone: 015395 68486
Tucked between the craggy limestone hills of Whitbarrow and Scout Scar, the elegant Lyth Valley Country House offers a picturesque pitstop for lunch with the family.
Address: Lyth Kendal, Kendal LA8 8DB
Telephone: 07748 856077
Sat on a hillside overlooking Coniston, The Ship Inn can be spotted by its abundance of colourful hanging baskets. Here, you can enjoy yummy pub food while soaking up incredible views of the surrounding area.
Address: Glebe Rd, Bowness-on-Windermere, Windermere LA23 3HE
Telephone: 015394 45001
Can’t wait to get your hands on some local ale? The Lake District has many breweries set around its lakes, from Keswick to Hawkshead. From brewery tours to cosy bars with open fires, make sure to add these to your ‘must-visit’ list:
At Jennings Brewery, you can try one of their ales fresh from the tap or take home a few bottles to try in the comfort of your holiday cottage. The brewery was first established as a family venture in 1828, before being acquired by the Faulders Brewery of Keswick in 1926.
Address: Brewery Ln, Cockermouth CA13 9NE
Telephone: 01900 820362
The Keswick Brewery has a 10 barrel brew length - which converts to around 2880 pints at any one time. Most of these are served up in local pubs but you can sample it straight from the source at their Fox Tap bar.
Address: Brewery Ln, Keswick CA12 5BY
Telephone: 017687 80700
Yet another great brewery in the heart of the Lake District National Park, Hawkshead Brewery offers a selection of ales, bitters, lagers, wheat beers and IPAs. They usually have some limited edition beers on tap - so be sure to ask when you pop in.
Address: 14 Back Ln, Staveley, Kendal LA8 9LR
Telephone: 01539 822644
The Hole in t’ Wall holds the title for the oldest pub in the Lake District, set within the town of Bowness. Established in 1612, William Wordsworth was a regular visitor!
There are lots of dog-friendly pubs all across the Lake District, including the aptly-named Dog & Gun in Keswick, The Pheasant Inn in Cockermouth, and the Woodlands Guest House in Bowness-on-Windermere.
Pubs with the best beer gardens in the Lake District include The Wilsons Arms in Coniston, The Wasdale Head Inn, and The Kirkstone Pass Inn, a 20-minute drive outside of Ambleside.
Some of the best pubs to enjoy live music events include the trendy Baha in Bowness-on-Windermere, Odd Frog in Barrow-in-Furness and the Bootlegger's Bar in Kendal.
The Lake District pubs with the best views of the surrounding scenery include the Lake View Restaurant at the Lodore Falls Hotel & Spa in Keswick and The Cottage in the Wood - set 1,000ft up in Whinlatter Forest.