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Grasmere Pub Crawl


A short walking tour of Ambleside's pubs and hotel bars

We begin in Lake Road at The Churchill (Winstonís Bar).
Originally the Vale View - a temperance hotel - it is still privately owned and serves Theakstons Best Bitter. There are a number of photographs of the famous man on the walls and some interesting memorabilia above the bar.
There is plenty of TV. This pub is popular with visitors and families at lunchtime. In the evenings it is a venue for younger drinkers, popular with locals and students. Major football matches on a big screen, plenty of pop music, sometimes loud, sometimes live.

Turn left outside and you will come to the Royal Oak on the same side of the road. Theakstons Best and Youngers Scotch plus a guest beer are served into handled pots in the front bar which has machines etc. and pool in winter. No meals but good pies and rolls.
The patio has plenty of tables and brollies. There is a separate entrance to the back bar (with TV), mainly used by locals.

Left out of the front door and across Lake Road to The White Lion, one of very few Mitchells & Butler (formerly Bass) owned pubs in the Lake District. Here there is Draught Bass and Worthington. The small back bar has machines, pool, TV etc. the large lounge has lots of tables and chairs, real fire in winter and two machines. There is also a non-smoking annexe. Orders from the extensive bar meals menu are taken at the table.
The benches on the forecourt are popular despite the traffic noise and fumes.

Keep on this side of the road and go uphill to the Ambleside Salutation Hotel. Here there is a genteel hotel lounge with Theakstons Best Bitter and easy chairs.

Across the road, go down a flight of steps and we are in the Queens Hotel, now privately owned, Camra Good Beer Guide listed and with an interesting history, it being used as an art college evacuated from London during the second world war and subsequently as a Youth Hostel. The bar has Jennings Bitter, Tetley Bitter plus three regularly changing, often local, guest beers.
There is a non-smoking dining room with the same menu as the bar. There is no juke box but background music and a game machine. Down a further flight of steps is the Queen Elizabeth II cellar bar open most evenings with TV, pool, a separate menu and non-smoking area.

Exit up the steps, turn left past the shopping precinct, left again and across the (Compston) Road will be found The Ambleside Tavern.
Most recently "The Sportsman", this was originally a shop, which became the regional office of the National Trust, then a restaurant with a table licence called the Copper Coins with a table licence. A full licence was obtained. Bought by Thwaites of Blackburn a few years ago, it offers two of their range on handpump.
Not surprisingly, there is plenty of sporting memorabilia and big screen Sky is on for major matches. There is a separate pizza bar (open until 11pm) up a few steps at the back. Late very loud disco at weekends (tickets may be required and proof of ID).

Turn left from the entrance, retrace your steps and turn left past the Tourist Information Office into North Road. On the left is The Unicorn, a cosy pub with Robinsonís Old Stockport Bitter, Frederics and Hartleys XB. Good value lunchtime and evening meals, pool table and small TV, regular live music, but closes most afternoons.

Exit left, up the hill then left down the first yard and into the back door of The Golden Rule. With more Camra Good Beer Guide entries than any other pub in Cumbria it boasts a splendid bank of Gaskell & Chambers pumps dispensing Robinsonís Dark Hatters Mild, Old Stockport Bitter, Cumbria Way, Best Bitter, Hartleys XB. There is no pool, no piped sound, no bar meals. The only noise is lively conversation and thus the pub attracts those who like to talk with their beer and hear the replies. Pork pies, jumbo scotch eggs, and well-filled rolls available plus a back room with optional TV, side room with darts and a machine, another quiet side room and a sun trap patio.

That's it for the town centre, but it is now worth a walk to Waterhead (one mile). From our start point in Lake Road, go south, past Fisherbeck Hotel (no real ale) and just before the Waterhead Hotel (no real ale) go right down a flight of wooden steps, through the car park to the Wateredge Inn. This was a private hotel but it is now a busy bar with Coniston Bluebird and Bluebird XB plus a guest beer on handpump, comprehensive food menu, lakeside garden and jetty.

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

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