There are dozens (hundreds?) of pubs in the Lake District, catering to the needs of tourists and day-trippers, hikers and climbers, not forgetting the local population, of course.The one with perhaps the most interesting name is The Drunken Duck which, like many Lakeland inns, has oak floors and old beams. The legend about the name is that the landlady of the inn found ducks lying stretched out in the road and concluded they were dead, so she began to pluck and prepare them for dinner. However, down in the cellar a barrel had slipped its hoops and beer had drained from the floor into the duck’s feeding ditch. The ducks took full advantage but awoke to find themselves plucked and halfway to the oven. Full of remorse for the rough treatment, the landlady knitted the ducks waistcoats of Hawkshead yarn until their feathers grew back again.
Another pub with an unusual name is The Mortal Man, in the village of Troutbeck, between Ambleside and Windermere. Its name comes from a sign painted for the landlord in the 18th century by a painter called Julius Caesar Ibbetson. One legend is that the remains of a local man may be buried under the pub; but it’s equally possible that the ‘mortal man’ is the drunkard, drinking himself to death!
lodges. If its apostrophe is in the correct place, the name refers to the makers of the wooden carts (or ‘wains’) which were used to transport slate in the local quarries, and not, as many people think, to Alfred Wainwright, the author of many Lakeland guide books.
My favourite village of Hawkshead has four pubs. The oldest, the Red Lion, was a 15th century coaching inn. The archway through which coaches drove into the stabling yard still exists, as do the medieval carved figures under the eaves.
Another pub, dating from Tudor times (16th century) is the King’s Arms, which is in the main square, and there are two 17th century inns, the Sun Inn and the Queen’s Head.
The latter, a black and white half-timbered pub, is a familiar sight to all visitors to Hawkshead as it stands in the main street, where the road narrows. Inside it is cosy and welcoming, with slate floors, oak beams, and wood panelling. One interesting curio in the pub, now kept in a glass case, is a huge shoe, known as Haaksid's Girt Clog. It was specially made for John Waterson, the local molecatcher, who contracted a form of elephantiasis that greatly enlarged his left foot. The shoe measures 20 inches long and 16 inches wide.
This is just a ‘taster’ of the many pubs in Lakeland, and no, I haven’t been in them all - yet!