10 of the best places for autumn dining in Lancashire and the Lake District
PUBLISHED: 14:33 21 September 2018 | UPDATED: 14:47 21 September 2018
Cosy, warm and welcoming. Discover some of the county's best places serving up food perfect for the new season
Bay Horse Inn, Ellel
You’d struggle to find a warmer welcome than that of husband and wife Craig and Nicola Wilkinson at the Bay Horse Inn. Chef Craig was shouting about provenance and traceability long before they became the latest buzz words and Nicola keeps front of house – and just about everything else – running like clockwork. As well as cosy surroundings – and a handy location near to Lancaster city centre and just off the motorway – there is a menu celebrating some of the county’s best produce. Lancashire favourite Goosnargh duck is a mainstay along with cheeses from Lancashire creameries like Butlers and Morecambe Bay potted shrimps.
Perfect for: a pit stop after a walk along the Lancaster Canal, a five minute walk away. On a warm autumn day enjoy a drink in the gardens which overlook cows grazing and, if you’re lucky, you might spot some hares boxing in the fields.
The Cartford Inn, Great Eccleston
Those not hiding under a rock will have seen the rise and rise of this wonderful country pub. Owned and run by French born Patrick Beaume and wife, Julie, it’s a place that has won lots of awards. This year alone it made it onto the Top 50 Gastropubs list – compiled by industry bible The Morning Advertiser- received silver in the Visit England Awards Tourism Pub of the Year category and the kitchen, run by skilled chef Chris Bury, was awarded two AA rosettes. The food Chris, a keen forager, turns out is something that attracts diners from locals to well known food critics. Eat in the main restaurant or enjoy a famous Cartford choux bun in TOTI, a charming deli packed full of delicious products, many of which are from Lancashire.
Perfect for: a foodie stay. The Cartford Inn has two stylish pods to stay in, overlooking the river, each with a unique design. Ziggy’s is David Bowie themed and The Robin’s Nest is named after the birds they worked hard not to disturb during the building work.
The Inn at Whitewell, near Clitheroe
This Lancashire heavyweight, which dates back to the 1300s, deservedly has an excellent reputation. Expect seasonal grouse, pheasant and partridge, Bowland beef and Lonk lamb, some of which can be seen in the fields viewed from this lovely rural inn. Most evenings there will be plenty of diners waiting for an opportunity to sample food from this delightful menu as well as to drink in the beautiful views and surroundings.
Perfect for: a longer stay. If you don’t want to drive home or simply can’t bear to leave – it’s definitely possible – there are also rooms as stunning as the food to rest your head in or a holiday house, The Piggeries, for longer stays in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Freemasons at Wiswell
Any time is a good time to eat at the Freemasons. But autumn is the time when it really excels itself. Chef patron Steven Smith – a keen huntsman – celebrates all that is good about the season and the Glorious Twelfth is always marked in a big way. There’s also a vast choice of comforting food – ideal on a crisp autumn day or to spend a dreary afternoon in comfort. Far more than your average pub food, eating here is an experience with dishes including 50-day aged beef, Herdwick lamb, smoked salmon and duck pie.
Perfect for: a cracking Sunday lunch with family and friends or a place to celebrate a special occasion.
The White Swan at Fence
A pub that offers stellar food without a fuss. Super chef Tom Parker, who trained at nearby Northcote, is a chef who doesn’t take himself too seriously. His carefree personality has permeated throughout the business and you will find no formal stuffiness that may lurk in another pub of the same calibre. But don’t be fooled by the bravado. Tom is a chef who is serious about his food. He turns out carefully crafted dishes that not only pull in diners from miles around but also attract the attention of food critics like Jay Rayner and the the judges of the Lancashire Life Food & Drink Awards – it was named Dining Pub of the Year. A must visit.
Perfect for: A laid back dining experience where you can also enjoy superb beers.
Parkers Arms, Newton in Bowland
Chef patron Stosie Madi and business partner Kathy Smith have brought the good times back to this lovely rural inn with critical acclaim from Top 50 Gastropubs and the National Restaurant Awards. A former winner of a Lancashire Life Food & Drink award, the Parkers Arms capitalises on the area’s rich bounty of produce and they get comforting food just right. The menu is full of hearty fare as well as dishes with a more global influence and it’s all created in a modern, sophisticated way.
Perfect for: a glorious end point for a walk in the beautiful surroundings around Newton-in-Bowland. If you want something less strenuous, there are lovely strolls along the River Hodder, which flows through the village.
The Eagle and Child, Ramsbottom
Since opening in October 2011, this super pub in Ramsbottom has soared. It was set up by Glen Duckett as a social enterprise to train and employ local 14-25-year-olds to get the skills and experience needed for a career in the food sector. No one thought he could do it but the Eagle and Child is a jewel in the crown of Lancashire’s dining scene. They’ve had a flurry of awards including the Great British Pub Awards Pub of the Year and a Lancashire Life Food & Drink Award. Lancashire produce features highly with everything from hummus made with Lancashire Sauce to Lancashire cheeses and Morecambe Bay shrimp. Following a refurbishment almost two years ago, there is an orangery that makes the most of wonderful views over the town and Holcombe Moor, a stylish dining area and bar five boutique rooms.
Perfect for: Sunday lunch. You’ll find fantastic food on offer any day of the week but if you’re looking for a stonking Sunday lunch, you’ve found your place. The offering here was named one of the best in the UK by the Independent and Observer newspapers.
The Punch Bowl Inn, Crosthwaite
A place that’s garnered a loyal following both locally and further afield, it is the great food, wines and service that has earned The Punch Bowl Inn its stellar reputation. It’s a lovely pub, tucked away in a quiet village, with a kitchen team that turn out award winning food. There’s a lovely pub atmosphere combined with a formal restaurant in contemporary surroundings. Local and seasonal are very much a part of the menus including damsons from a farm on the edge of the village.
Perfect for: an afternoon/evening visit after spending time in nearby Kendal. The Punch Bowl is in the heart of the Lyth Valley so your journey is rewarded with stunning views.
The Queens Head, Troutbeck
A local landmark, The Queen’s Head has come back from the brink following a disastrous fire in 2014 that forced its closure. Since it reopened – following a £2.4 million restoration from brewers Robinsons, it has reestablished itself as a popular place for good food and great atmosphere. Dishes are generous but unpretentious – think beer battered cod, gammon steak and confit duck leg. This 17th century coaching inn offers lovely surroundings too.
Perfect for: enjoying the views. Head there for lunch/evening meal after a day in nearby Ambleside or Windermere.
The Higher Buck, Waddington
Chef Michael Heathcote earned his stripes in the Ribble Valley when he opened the Duke of York in Grindleton. And the venture that followed continues his tradition of superb food. The Higher Buck, a welcoming Thwaites pub in pretty Waddington, won’t disappoint. Chef Michael has the culinary skills to rival any of the big Ribble Valley hitters. With menus supported by the high quality local produce the area has to offer, you’ll find pub classics done with flair. Try dishes like pork belly with crispy pig cheek, black pudding and chorizo dauphinoise alongside black pudding scotch egg. Service is friendly, efficient and warm without being too much – and nothing is too much trouble.
Perfect for: a great base for exploring the Ribble Valley. As well as a great food offer, The higher buck also has stylish rooms with a hearty breakfast.