Ritson's Bar

Wasdale Head Inn Wasdale Head Cumbria CA20 1EX

History and tradition loom large at the Wasdale Head Inn's legendary public bar, a thank-god-you're-open beacon of light for walkers, climbers and bedraggled outdoors types, who all fall in here gratefully after a day on the Wasdale fells. It's called Ritson's by the inn (though most just know it as the pub at the Wasdale Head), and takes its name from a nineteenth-century landlord known as the "world's biggest liar" for the tall tales he told to visitors and locals alike. New managers at the Wasdale Head have put the inn back on its feet after a sticky year or two, and it's a cheerful, well-run place again: nothing much has changed in the bar, thank the lord – slate floors, wooden booths, real ales, no airs and graces – but the hearty hiker-friendly food has picked up. Steak-in-ale pie, fish and chips, bangers and mash, and house burgers  are all present and correct, and there are daily blackboard specials too, from Barnsley chops to salmon, with either end of the menu sandwiched by unusual salads (slow-roast tomato, radicchio and feta) and a groaning Cumbrian cheese board. Beers are excellent, and are consumed by thirsty walkers at an impressive rate; outside, there's a covered courtyard and riverside picnic tables, from where you can watch the sun set over some of the UK's most majestic scenery. The daily food specials are also available in the hotel's dining room (along with a separate, slightly fancier menu), and comfortable rooms and a basic campsite mean you can also plan on going no further after that third pint of Dickie Doodle.

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