Top dining pubs in the Lake District, UK

In the Lake District you have  traditional 17th Century inns nestled at the foot of England’s tallest mountain or tucked along country lanes. Today, there’s also chic pubs on the shores of England’s largest lake.  Hand-crafted brewery’s display high-tech wizardry and there’s a new generation of gentrified watering holes, where gastro chefs are leading the way. Here we’ve picked 5 of the Lake District’s top dining pubs to share with you.

Hawkshead Brewery & The Beer Hall, Staveley

This glass-fronted monolith is a glisteningly modern celebration of the good old English pint turned craft beer.

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There’s an ambience of seriousness from the two 5m stainless steel tanks rising up through the first floor, along with the almost endless row of shiny beer pumps, in what must be one of the longest bars in the region. The brewery’s onsite pub, The Beer Hall, is flooded with beautiful Lake District sunshine through the enormous panes of glass. A mantra is etched on Lake District slate; “Enjoy our beers. Where they’re brewed, by people who love beer for people who love beer.” This is a celebration of where the old Lake District meets the new.

And of course, you can break bread with friends over a delicious beer at The Beer Hall. We’d recommend the ‘Beer Tapas’, designed as a beer tasting menu to complement the range of ales. And here, you can feel equally comfortable dressing up or down. Staveley village, which today houses the Hawkshead Brewery, is popular with cyclists and so don’t be shocked by a sighting of Lycra.

From drinking Heineken from a tea pot in Iran, ‘fizzy beers’ in London during the 70s, Dos Equis in Mexico City and Sam Adams Boston Lager in the USA, like all good visionaries, owner Alex Brodie (former BBC correspondent) has done his fair share of ‘research’ searching for a ‘proper beer’ and in the Lake District’s Hawkshead Brewery and Beer Hall, he’s done a good job in answering his global search.

The Punch Bowl, Crosthwaite 

This is what you imagine an English country pub to look and feel like. Warm and welcoming. Designed to keep you whiling away hours on-end, blissfully content.

Set in the heart of the beautiful Lyth Valley, a secret corner in the eastern Lake District famed for its glorious damsons. In the Springtime the hedgerows and petite orchards are weighed down with the fluffy white of damson blossom and throughout the summer, holidaymakers are gratified with the heady taste of the nature’s bounty, from damson jams and glorious gins, sold along country lanes from makeshift stands.

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This flat-bottomed valley is a pastoral patchwork of verdant countryside that beckons you to wonder along the ancient routes, amongst the bluebell woodlands, undulating green pastures and white-washed farmhouses that make up the principle villages of Bowland Bridge, Crosthwaite and Underbarrow. The Punch Bowl is a foodie destination pub, where the classical menu has put the pub firmly on the gastro traveller’s map.

After enjoying the stunning Lyth Valley countryside, step inside. The formal restaurant’s long-standing reputation has been attracting food lovers for years. Here the menu is classical with modern twists. The team serve fine wines and very good quality food. The cream of mushroom soup with truffle pesto is particularly good. The focal wood burning stove and lounging chairs are the place to retire to, post-dinner.

Only 5 miles outside of the bustling market town of Kendal and 82 miles from Manchester Airport, The Punch Bowl in the Lyth Valley is a long-standing foodie pub in the Lake District.

The Angel Inn, Bowness-on-Windermere

This Lake District dining pub is for those of you looking for a modern, centrally located, chic Lake District inn. More like a restaurant, but in parts The Angel Inn feels like a gastro pub.

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There are various dining and drinking options, from the ultra-modern orangery and formal restaurant to the more relaxed bar and lounges. There’s the landscaped garden terrace too, from which you can enjoy superb views down onto Lake Windermere. With distinct accents of orange throughout the restaurant and orangery, this is a modern dining establishment with hints of a traditional Lakeland pub still visible. You can still enjoy a pint of local Lake District ale by a roaring fire and a home-cooked meal of fresh, local produce sat amongst antique dining furniture.

Perched above Bowness, your dining experience here is from one of the most desired locations in the Lake District. What’s more, you can amble from your dining table down into the boutique-lined streets of upmarket Bowness for an afternoon of relaxed shopping by the tranquil waters of Lake Windermere.

The George and Dragon, Penrith 

The average train time from London to the northern Cumbrian town of Penrith is only 3 hours 44 minutes and the journey can be made from Edinburgh in under 2 hours. Whilst The George and Dragon, in the village of Clifton outside the market town of Penrith, is not strictly within the Lake District, we decided to put this pub on the list. Penrith is the northern gateway into the Lake District and less than a 20 minute drive away from a holiday in Ullswater, the Lake District’s second largest lake.

So, this pub does not have the dramatic backdrop of the mountainous Lake District on its doorstep. But, this country estate inn is in the heartland of English aristocracy, which is what makes it so special. This 18th century coaching inn has been restored by Charles Lowther, half-brother to the current Lord Lonsdale. Today, it is inspired by the family’s rich history as well as benefiting from the generous bounty that the nearby estate gardens offer.

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Two miles from the George and Dragon is Askham Hall, part of the Lowther family estate, and this, and their nearby farm, is where much of the produce on the delicious menu is grown and reared.

Specials are changed daily depending upon what is available and the menu is superbly detailed, letting you know the exact provenance of your garden salad, duck eggs, rare breed sausage and Shorthorn steak. The seasons and “cycle of life” in the gardens and fields at Askham Hall dictate the menu, with delicate wild garlic in Spring, regional game from the Autumn months and preserved fruits over Winter. Simple. Delicious.

The dynasty of the Lowther Earl’s is a very colourful one, of which one was famously called ‘The Yellow Earl’ who was described by Edward VII as “almost an emperor, not quite a gentleman”, so gregarious were his ways. 

Visit the George and Dragon for an excellent dining experience, made all the better by the unique heritage that embodies this country estate inn.

The Masons Arms, Cartmel Fell

The heated and covered outdoor terraces at The Masons Arms are bustling during a busy lunchtime trade at this award-winning country inn. The garden takes full advantage of the peaceful views over the lush green Winster Valley, in the eastern Lake District.

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Locally sourced dishes are served with fresh produce. There’s a particularly good selection of lighter meals, and together with the superb outdoor dining space, makes this a popular lunchtime destination pub.

This 17th Century coaching inn is off the beaten track so it never seems overly busy and a visit here makes you feel ‘in the know’.  It’s low ceilings, timber beams and cosy fire gives a rustic-chic dining experience. This is a hideaway where you feel wonderfully lost in the beautiful English countryside of Strawberry Bank, Cartmel Fell (the pub’s particularly well-suited address).

Paul Liddell is the Managing Director at Lakelovers.

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