The Traveller’s Rest Inn, Grasmere, Lake District

An open fire just just inside the front door greeted us. The barman – fifties, tall and dressed semi-formally and all in black – let his Northern accent (I’m guessing Cumbrian) come through as we discussed the crisp options and payment by card. Four or five draft beer options presented themselves but Loweswater Gold won it. It’s in the name. Then into one of the snugs in the one of the two rooms for patrons, where nothing distracted us from the view of the mountains we’d just conquered, the slow peace from the beer and our own easy chat amidst a backdrop of low burble from the other tables.

I can’t offer much other information about the pub except that the menu looks good (e.g. Hunters Skillet of pan fried chicken livers with Rich Jus for starters, £9.95; Scallops and Pancetta Linguine for mains, £17.95). There are separate dining areas for evening meals and for the ten letting rooms’ lodgers (presumably for breakfasts). Either side of the building has an expanse of beer garden with appealing views. After one pint, we left with hope of return.

Something about the pub I couldn’t put my finger on gnawed at me for a few days. There was something strange about the atmosphere. On the evening we got home from the pub I couldn’t find the water bottle from the walk. That gave me a reason to go back to the pub.

The last day of the holiday brought biblical rain levels – volumes often seen in those parts. Dripping wet, I ran in at Friday lunchtime. The open fire was even more inviting and this time I thought of more than one. I realised what was strange. It was the atmosphere of a pub with no locals – none of the easy banter that emanates from patrons who know each other, staff and a place well. The pub’s architecture doesn’t help. But located on the main road, an unpleasant walk at night from the village, it’s only surrounded by farms. The pub can’t do anything about that. But it can keep providing rest, for an hour, for a night, for a week, from the rain.  

(Two pints of Loweswater Gold and two packets of crisps: €13.28, current converted)

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