Places to gather and share the craic are a quintessential part of any journey.  Fortunately the Lake District is well provided for in this respect.   Here are seven special places on the Pilgrimage route to eat, drink, recover and share stories.

Royal Hotel, Dockray

It has been said and written that Mary Queen of Scots stopped at the Cross Keys (as the Royal Hotel was known then) on 13th July 1568. The Cross Keys was originally a farmhouse and there was a forge to the side of the old bar where the present sitting area is, and on the other side of the old bar there was a barn and then the stables and carriage houses. The practice of changing names to some variation of Royal Hotel was prevalent from 1850 onwards, sometimes for the flimsiest of reasons, and in the case of the Cross Keys it was the presumed visit by Mary Queen of Scots in 1568. It was a form of advertisement, directed at the middle classes, and especially the women, who would prefer to stay at a hotel than an inn and would like to mix with the higher echelons of society. The 'Cross Keys' became the 'Royal Hotel' sometime between 1861 and 1871. 


© Copyright David Dixon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence


White Horse Inn, Scales

The name Scales comes from the Old Norse skali, with an Old English plural *Scalas, meaning huts. The village has a long history, proven when mesolithic human remains were discovered in a cave in a limestone outcrop known as Scales Haggs to the east of the village. The pub hasn't been around quite that long but offers a real fire and bunkhouse accommodation.


© Copyright Bill Boaden and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


Black Sail Hostel, Ennerdale

This former shepherd's hut has been a youth hostel for more than 80 years and is one of the very few that still requires visitors to arrive on foot or by bicycle.  It is the Lake District's only real mountain hut.  Given its singularity, booking is very important if you want to stay overnight.  World famlous mountaineer, Sir Chris Bonington, is a fan: “YHA Black Sail is my favourite youth hostel - its position with its unspoilt environment, sense of being in the wild and its incredible view, combined with warm and friendly wardens who cook you a superb simple meal backed by an amazingly good small wine cellar, make it unique."

© Copyright Toby Speight and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


Wasdale Head Inn, Wasdale

Another longstanding hotel which has been used by travellers for 200 years or more. Most of the early passers by were farmers, miners, merchants, smugglers and others travelling over the mountain passes to ply their trade in adjacent valleys; but over the years Wasdale has also played host to many great men of literature including Wordsworth, Coleridge and Dickens. Will Ritson (b 1808) was the first and is still the most famous landlord of the hotel, renowned as "The World's Biggest Liar", as well as being a huntsman, wrestler, farmer, fellsman, guide and general raconteur. 

© Copyright Philip Halling and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


Newfield Inn, Seathwaite

Today this is a welcoming hostelry set in the charming Duddon valley, but in 1904 it was the scene of a public works riot.  Three men were ordered out of the pub at noon, having begun drinking at 9am.  This incited the men to smash anything they could before hurling half a ton of rocks at the church and school and returning to stone the pub.  The barman, publican and an engineer shot all three men, one of whom died.  It is a rather more serene spot today with camping and a camping barn nearby.

© Copyright Tom Richardson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


Three Shires Inn, Little Langdale

The Three Shires dates back to 1872 and was named after the stone of the same name that marks the boundary of Lancashire, Westmorland and Cumberland.  The pub has long been a stopping of place for travellers, being at the intersection of several packhorse routes.  It would also have been a watering hole for the miners in the nearby Greenburn mines.

© Copyright Michael Graham and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, Langdale

The Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel was originally a farm and known as the Middlefell Inn.   The stables at the Northeast end were made into a dining room, whilst the shippon, on the other end, was made into what is now the Climbers Bar and you can still see the cow stalls intact.  These were the days of the horse-drawn ‘charas’ bringing visitors from Little Langdale over Blea Tarn Pass; they would stop at the top and blow their horn, a signal to get lunch or tea ready – the number of blasts informed the staff of the number of passengers requiring the meal!  It has long been a climbers pub, being a venue for club dinners and talks, which meant that many of the best British climbers from the 1950s and 60s stayed at the hotel, including those involved in the first ascent of Everest.

© Copyright Bill Boaden and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence


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