With eight Michelin-starred restaurants in the region, Cumbria is known as a foodie haven, but sometimes fine dining isn’t what the heart wants; instead, a good old pub is an antidote which is why we’ve put together a list of the best pubs in the Lake District.
From gastropubs with fantastic food to traditional pubs with great atmospheres and selections of local beers, there is a pub in the Lake District that is bound to appeal. Whether you want a post-walk pint and pie, a hearty dinner after a day of exploring or a delicious Sunday roast, the pubs in the Lake District really are some of the best in the country.
Many of Cumbria’s best pubs are just a stone’s throw from Hutton John Estate, luckily for you (and for us!). Read on to discover the best inns, taverns and taprooms in the area.
George and Dragon, Clifton
8 miles from Hutton John Estate
The George and Dragon in Clifton is an all-rounder pub that oozes quality throughout. Family run and in the heart of the Lowther Estate, this unstuffy spot showcases classic country cooking using ingredients from the surrounding farms and the kitchen gardens of its sister establishment, Askham Hall. It’s not just their field to fork menu that excels. They also have a fantastic wine list, real ales, three wood fires, a cosy atmosphere and great service.
One of the many great things about this pub, and one of the reasons why it is one of our favourites, is because you can turn up in whatever, whenever and never feel out of place. Want a meal where you can dress up a bit and celebrate? The George and Dragon’s restaurant is perfect. Fancy a slightly more casual vibe with the pooch and kids
in tow? The bar area is where you need to go and you’ll be welcomed with open arms. Just fancy a pint and a few yummy nibbles after a walk? Muddy walking boots and anoraks don’t look out of place. For the rare sunny day in the Lakes, they also have an enclosed courtyard and garden area.
See? It genuinely is a pub that does it all (and does it very well).
You can book a table at the George and Dragon here.
The Horse and Farrier, Dacre
2.2 miles from Hutton John Estate
The Horse and Farrier in Dacre is the best pub to go to if you want to try some of Cumbria’s best real ales. Plus, it is walkable from The Estate which means you can happily try several of the goods from our local breweries!
This traditional inn dates back to the 18th century and has heritage by the bucket load with exposed beams, stone walls and wood-burning stoves which sit alongside quirky touches such as stools crafted from beer barrels.
The pub has three hand pumps at the bar for real ale as well as a changing selection of local ales. They also have four keg beers available which again, change regularly. It really is a beer lover’s watering hole! In the colder months, the warm fire provides a warm resting spot after a chilly ramble whilst during the summer, a south-facing beer garden is a sun trap that provides breathtaking views down the valley. The pub is also on the Dalemain Loop section of the Ullswater Way so for the keen walkers amongst you, this is the perfect place to stop, rest and refuel. Dogs are welcome and a great children’s menu means the whole family can enjoy this quaint Lake District pub.
You can book a table at the Horse and Farrier here.
Queen’s Head, Askham
9 miles from Hutton John Estate
If a Sunday Roast is your highlight of the week, then the Queen’s Head should be on your list when visiting the Lake District. Tucked away in the lovely village of Askham and part of the Askham Collection, this is not your Toby Cavery sort of roast. Think starters with foraged ingredients from the local hedgerows, salt aged roast beef from just a few miles away, free-range local chicken, roast seasonal vegetables from the kitchen garden and some seriously good wine selected by the sommeliers at Michelin-starred sister restaurant, Askham Hall. The Queen’s Head offer a two or three-course option for very reasonable prices for the quality that is on the plate and we guarantee you’ll be full to the brim by the end of your meal! After all, what are Sundays for if not for filling your boots?
They of course are open throughout the week for dinner during the week. However, if you do go (Sunday roast or not), make sure you book as the tables go like hotcakes!
Whilst you are over that way, we’d recommend giving Askham Fell a go or taking a wander around the Lowther Estate to work up your appetite.
You can book a table at the Queen’s Head here.
Sun Inn, Pooley Bridge
11 miles from Hutton John Estate
The Sun Inn is the best pub to go to during a day of touristing in the Lake District. Located in the popular village of Pooley Bridge, it is a great pub for the whole family (dogs included!). Its central location makes it perfect for a quick stop after a walk at Aira Force, after a trip on the Ullswater Steamer or after a cycle in the area.
They serve food all day from noon and tables are given on a first come first serve basis which means you can be flexible with your timings, allowing for any detours or map reading mishaps without the pressure of getting back to the pub for a booked table. Their extensive beer garden is a real highlight, with fantastic views over the surrounding countryside, a play area that resembles a castle and lots of picnic benches.
You can find more details about the Sun Inn here.
Dog & Gun, Skelton
14 miles from Hutton John Estate
Sometimes a Michelin starred meal is best served in a traditional country pub and that is what the Dog & Gun brings to the table. An independent pub in the north Cumbrian village of Skelton, the pub was reopened in 2017 by Ben Queen-Fryer who was a finalist in the Roux Scholarship. In 2021, Estrella added the pub to their Top 50 Gastropubs list and in 2022, the Dog and Gun were awarded a Michelin star officially making it one of the best pubs in the Lake District (and the country!).
The food at the Dog & Skelton is far from your average pub grub but is neither stuffy nor needs looking at with a microscope. In our opinion, it is the perfect balance of fine dining and pub charm. The menu changes daily with dishes like venison suet pudding or braised beef bourguignon sitting alongside more traditional favourites like roast chicken or roast lamb hot pot.
With a Michelin star on the front of its door, we recommend booking as far as you can in advance to get a table here. We promise you won’t be disappointed.
You can book a table at the Dog & Gun here.
Queen’s Head Inn, Tirril
8 miles from Hutton John Estate
The Queen’s Head Inn in Tirril, between Penrith and Ullswater, is the best pub in the Lake District if you want to experience the area like a local and love a bit of history (which unsurprisingly we do). This 18th-century pub is always full of returning locals which if you ask us, is always a good sign! The atmosphere is brilliant with lots of farmers and the like popping in for a pint after a day on the fells. Listen to them chatting whilst you are there and see if you can decode the Cumbrian dialect. Once you’ve got a few words worked out, just call yourself a Cumbrian local.
The pub is oldie worldie in the best sense with lots of period features like open fires, crooked walls and original flagstone walls. The original meat hooks that were used in the 18th century to smoke meat are still in situ above the fireplace. Around the turn of the 19th century, the pub was owned by William Wordsworth’s brother, Richard. When Richard died in 1816 the pub was inherited by his son, John. William Wordsworth helped his nephew run the pub until he was old enough to manage it himself. In fact, the pub still has a signed document from William Wordsworth on display.
The Queen’s Head serves proper ‘pub grub’, has a great selection of Robinson’s Brewery real ales and welcomes both dogs and children.
You can book a table at the Queen’s Head Inn here.