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Ambleside Pub Crawl


A short walking tour of Grasmere's's pubs and hotel bars,
with an emphasis on real ale

The popular village of Grasmere is well served with public transport from Keswick to the North and Ambleside etc to the South. What it lacks in real pubs is made up for by the hotel bars and annexes.
Let us start with the one furthest from the village centre - The Travellers Rest which stands about half a mile north of the village on the A591 (buses stop more or less outside in either direction). Here we find a cosy bar offering Jennings Bitter, Cumberland Ale and Sneck Lifter as well as a guest beer on handpump. Guinness, Stella and Tennants are also available. Next to the bar is a splendid log fire kept blazing during winter. Food (available all day in summer) is popular in the two dining areas, one non-smoking. Up a couple of steps is a family/games room with TV, pool etc. The Travellers is a regular entry in Camra’s Good Beer Guide and is open all day.
Returning to the village centre past the Swan Hotel (a hotel lounge bar open to non-residents, but no real ale and no pub atmosphere) we bear right at the Coffee Bean cafe into Langdale Road to find Tweedies, part of the Dale Lodge Hotel, on the left hand side.

Here we can sample Coniston Bluebird and two guest beers, often one from Jennings and/or another Cumbrian micro-brewery. The bar area is decorated with various tweed samples (it was formerly a tweed shop) and has TV and a machine, the games room has a juke box, pool etc., the bistro dining area is tucked away at the back and there are extensive lawned grounds with bench tables.
We can ignore The Gold Rill in Red Bank Road (no real ale or pub atmosphere) so turn right from the exit and right again through the white gate, straight along the gravel drive and across the main street to The Dove and Olive Branch at the left hand end of the Wordworth Hotel. We pass through the conservatory dining area with slate top tables (children tolerated) to the bar where Tetley Bitter and Jennings Cumberland Ale are on offer in oversize, lined glasses - a guaranteed full pint. This is a most civilised place with no jukebox, machines, TV or pool, children or dogs. The only slight snag is that it closes every day between 3pm and 6pm so time your tour carefully!
On leaving go straight ahead towards the Lamb Inn which will be seen on the left at the near end of the Red Lion Hotel. Here we are offered Theakstons Best, Theakstons XB plus an occasional guest (usually either Courage Directors, Ruddles County, Marstons Pedigree or Morlands Old Speckled Hen). There is a TV on a corner shelf above the bar and a separate games area with pool etc. Through an archway is the buttery area with tables and chairs for dining. Note the glass viewing door in to the cellar.

Bear left from the exit and we are heading back towards the bus stops.
For those who wish to explore further there is a choice: either take the bus from the stop on the left-hand side of the road and proceed towards Keswick where most of the pubs offer the Jennings or Scottish Courage range, although Yates Bitter is always available at the Dog and Gun and the Thwaites range at the Keswick Lodge.
Alternatively take the bus from the stop on the right hand side of the road and proceed towards Ambleside, passing The Thistle Hotel (formerly Prince of Wales) (no Real Ale).

A stop off could be made at Rydal for the Badger Bar at the Glen Rothay Hotel. From the bus stop walk back towards Grasmere for 50 yards, where the entrance will be found past the patio area. Inside is a cosy bar with (rather cold) Coniston Bluebird and a changing guest beer. There is also a comfortable lounge and both rooms have a proper fire in winter. No pool, juke box nor machines.

With acknowledgements to Lakes & Ale,
a free newsletter of the Westmorland Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale.

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