Golden Rule

Smithy Brow, Ambleside, LA22 9AS
Golden Rule Outside

In the age of gastro-pubs, bistro bars, and trendy nightclubs, traditional British pubs where a pint and a chat (or a “crack” as we say here in Cumbria) can be enjoyed without loud music or the latest sport event blaring in the background are a rare breed. The Golden Rule is perfect for ale lovers who yearn for those simpler times.

You won’t find food served on slate here, nor will you be subjected to the local college band aiming to be the next big thing. You will, however, find good beer and excellent company. Hidden away in a quiet side street of Ambleside, the Golden Rule is perhaps one of the town’s best kept secrets. It’s popular with locals and visitors for offering a traditional pub experience without the fuss.

Food & Drink

The inside of the Golden Rule Pub in Ambleside

The Golden Rule is all about the beer. There are seven cask ales to choose from, including local ales, with two that change seasonally. It’s little wonder then that the pub regularly features in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide. In addition, the pub serves an extensive selection of draught and bottled beers and ciders. The wine list is limited, but all the popular varieties are covered. The pub also has an extensive selection of single malt whiskies, gins, other spirits, and liqueurs. In addition, soft drinks are available, as are a selection of teas, coffees, or an indulgent hot chocolate topped with marshmallows.

There is little food available here. The proprietors are determined to keep the Golden Rule as a place to simply enjoy a pint and a chat and believe serving food would be detrimental to what makes the pub so special. That being said, they do serve snacks, such as homemade pork pies and scotch eggs.

Other Features

The beer garden at the Golden Rule Pub in Ambleside

The Golden Rule has a small games room where you will find a darts board and a games machine, as well as a selection of family favourite board games. Any children attending are required to stay in this room or one of the other side rooms and are not permitted in the main bar, but there is plenty in the games room to keep them occupied.

The beer garden is perhaps better described as a beer yard, being an enclosed space at the back of the pub away from the road. It has cover and heating, so can be used year-round.

Well-behaved quiet dogs are welcome at the Golden Rule, but any dogs that bark too much will be asked to leave. A stash of dog biscuits are kept behind the bar for any doggy visitors.


The Golden Rule has a long history. The building and those surrounding it were created in part from stone scavenged from the nearby Galava Roman Fort at Waterhead in the 16th century. It was originally the brewery house for Ambleside Hall before becoming a public house in the early 18th century.

It was purchased by Hartley’s Brewery around 100 years ago, and later that brewery was bought out by Robinsons in 1982. The current licensee has run the pub for over 30 years and remains committed to retaining the character and charm of this Ambleside institution.


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