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The Plough

Cow Brow Lupton LA6 1PJ

A country inn that's a cut above, the Plough at Lupton might look like a straightforward roadside pub – handily close to Kendal and the Lakes, en route from the Dales on the A65 – but the surprises are all inside. A really handsome makover has turned it into a wonderful, sweeping open-plan bar and restaurant under majestic oak beams. Informality is the key here, from squishy sofas by the log-burner to family-sized dining tables, and the food follows suit – a pick-and-mix menu of "small things" and mains that's far more restaurant than pub. If the food is locally sourced, the inspiration is largely Mediterranean, hence courgette fritters with Lancashire cheese and honey, or local lamb with Med veg and feta, and the relaxed style means you're just as welcome to call in for a glass of prosecco and some salt-and-pepper squid rather than go the whole hog. The wine list is good – there's lots by the glass, and open-to-view wine cellars are a nice touch – and beers are local and hand-pulled. The kitchen is open all day too, which is par for the course at such an on-the-ball establishment, and the five boutique rooms upstairs are in the same classy vein. Kirkby Lonsdale is just five miles down the road, Kendal's nine miles away, or it's just a couple of miles off the M6 (junction 36).

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