Cuckoo Brow Inn
One for slightly older kids this one: they cook handcrafted burgers with an absolutely storming range of local cheeses to add to the top – the Eden Pearl soft brie and the Black Dub Blue stand out. There’s locally produced ice cream here too: the raspberry pavlova flavour does sound awfully tempting, but when there’s a flavour called Thunder and Lightning on the menu, we’re powerless to resist it. Very metal.
Far Sawrey, Ambleside LA22 0LQ
They’ve got good carvery options for children here, plus a covered play area outside, so the kids can launch themselves around even in the most biblical of Lakeland downpours. They’ve also got a ghost called Agnes who is purportedly the great-great-aunt of Mitt Romney, which is great if your kids are particularly morbid or interested in American politics. Arguably you’d have to be the former to be the latter anyway.
Milnthorpe Road, Kendal LA9 5HG
The Fetherston Arms
For the adults, there’s upscale gastro stuff like beer-battered halloumi with chips and mushy peas and low-and-slow local beef brisket with horseradish mash and a Yorkshire pudding. For the kids, there’s ice cream, nibbles like whitebait, and nearby Long Meg and her Daughters to explore. For everyone, there’s a beer garden that feels more like your well-to-do friend’s elegantly wild back garden.
The Square, Kirkoswald CA10 1DQ
Now, there are beer gardens with views, and there are beer gardens with views. Then, on an entirely different plane of reality – in a different dimension of perception – there is the Kirkstile Inn’s beer garden with a view. It looks toward the hills which ring Crummock Water, and it’s big enough for kids to run around in while you recover from the brain-warpingly good views with a pint of Loweswater Gold.
Loweswater CA13 0RU
The Beehive Inn
The children’s play area here is worth visiting for on its own – it’ll take a strong will not to leap onto it yourself, even if after three pints it’s probably inadvisable – and the food is pretty good too. Think local options like Cumberland sausage with creamy mash and onion gravy, and there are homemade pizzas too.
Eamont Bridge, Penrith CA10 2BX
There’s a neat little play area outside this charming pub, as well as forehead-slappingly good views across the Eskdale valley and a programme of fun events which should keep little ones entertained. Sadly you’re too late for this year’s Eco Duck Race, wherein participants make ducks and race them down the river, but you’ve got about 10 months to perfect your quacker’s hydrodynamics.
Hardknott Pass, Eskdale CA19 1TH