Five of the best pub walks in the Lake District
A long walk deserves a stop at a cosy inn and Lakeland writer and photographer Vivienne Crow has agreed to share a few of her favourites
With winter rapidly becoming a distant memory, walkers' thoughts inevitably turn to those long days when gentle saunters can be started, followed or interrupted by a visit to that most important of Lakeland institutions: the real-ale pub. What could be better than combining the National Park's low fells, hidden tarns and verdant valleys with ancient inns in picturesque villages serving local beers and hearty pub grub? Here are five of my favourites.
Latterbarrow and the Queen's Head, Hawkshead Little Latterbarrow, at just 800ft above sea level, may be a mere pimple on the Lake District landscape, but it can hold its own among the towering fells when it comes to views. Stand on its grassy summit and, whichever direction you look in, there's tremendous scenery all around. From Hawkshead, it's an easy stroll across fields and along lanes to reach its base. After a short, moderate climb, forest paths and tracks complete the 4¼-mile circuit, leading back to the village where the cosy Queen's Head awaits. This friendly hostelry has been welcoming weary travellers since the early 17th century.
Great Langdale and the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel Beloved of many generations of fell-walkers and climbers, the iconic Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel lies at the head of Great Langdale. You can't beat its popular Hikers' Bar for atmosphere - and, of course, the awesome location is second to none. Dwarfed by soaring peaks, including Bow Fell and Pike O'Stickle, take a wander up into Mickleden, ford the beck and then stroll back downstream above Great Langdale Beck. After just 4¼ miles of walking in this most dramatic of dales, never climbing much above 450ft, you'll realise that valley walks can be just as inspiring as hikes on the high fells.
Troutbeck Valley and the Mortal Man If you're searching for the Lake District idyll, look no further than the Troutbeck valley. For a straightforward, 5½-mile walk, head up the eastern side of the valley, into wild country beneath steep-sided fells. On reaching the southern end of The Tongue, return, via valley tracks, to the beautiful village of Troutbeck. Here, 17th and 18th-century homes are surrounded by drystone walls that dissect the rolling farmland into tiny enclosures. The Mortal Man, an inn since 1689, sits partway up the hillside, overlooking gorgeous fell and dale scenery. Its beer garden is a great place to enjoy a laid-back drink on a warm spring afternoon.
Nether Wasdale and The Strands Inn Ambling through the countryside of Nether Wasdale and along the shores of Wastwater, you can't help but be mesmerised by your surroundings. The Lake District's most dramatic and iconic mountains form the perfect backdrop to this watery scene, while the dark, inhospitable-looking crags above The Screes are perfectly reflected in the cold, dark depths of the lake. No wonder it was once named 'Britain's favourite view'! After a 5¼-mile walk, head to The Strands, a traditional country pub close to Nether Wasdale's pretty village green. Built in about 1800 as an inn and post house, it has its own micro-brewery.
Nab Scar and Tweedies Bar, Grasmere Nab Scar lies at the southern end of the long ridge that radiates south from Fairfield. With more ascent involved, it makes for a slightly more taxing outing than the previous four walks. Warm up by strolling along the delightful old Corpse Road from Grasmere and then climb from Rydal. From a high point of about 1,500ft, a little used path then descends to Alcock Tarn, tucked into the folds of the fell high above the valley floor. The 5-mile hike can be followed with a visit to Tweedies Bar, where walkers are welcomed by real ales, a substantial menu and a log fire.
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On the right track Vivienne Crow is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer, specialising in all things to do with the outdoors. She has written more than a dozen guides to Cumbria and the Lake District. All the walks mentioned here are described in full in Vivienne Crow's Pub Walks: Walks to Cumbria's Best Pubs. Priced £4.99, it includes numbered route directions, OS mapping, colour photographs and fascinating facts about places along the way. Available in shops and tourist information centres (ISBN 978-1-908632-01-2). Pub Walks is one in a series of 'Top 10 Walks' books published by Northern Eye Books.