Sticklebarn Tavern (Langdale)

Great Langdale, Ambleside, LA22 9JU
Sticklebarn Tavern (Langdale) Outside

"You’ll be drinking for charity" is what the owners of the Sticklebarn Tavern will tell you when you enter this unique Lake District pub in Great Langdale. It’s certainly true, as the owners are in fact the National Trust, who bought the pub in 2012, making Sticklebarn the first pub to be both owned and operated by the charity (the Trust own around 60 other pubs, but they are all run by private license holders).

Therefore, when you enter the pub, you would be forgiven for thinking you have entered a National Trust café. There are blankets to borrow when you get cold, tourist leaflets to peruse, and National Trust gifts available to by. The pub’s early closing in the winter certainly lends itself to that café atmosphere. That being said, the tavern does stock an impressive selection of real ale. Make no mistake, this is a pub for families and walkers rather than a local watering hole. However, its location alone makes it certainly worth a visit.

Food & Drink

Sticklebarn Tavern (Langdale) pub

Photo thanks to the Sticklebarn Tavern (Langdale)

The National Trust opened Sticklebarn Tavern with the aim of doing things a bit differently, which is why you will find quirky features, such as an outdoor firepit and pork pies on display. However, the Trust understand that many visitors simply want to enjoy a pint of good ale after a long walk, and tavern has five cask ales on tap. All are sourced from local breweries and all change regularly.

The tavern also stocks a range of bottled beers, again, mostly from Cumbrian breweries. There is a reasonable wine list, and a fairly impressive whiskey selection. Of course, this being the National Trust, hot drinks are available in abundance here, with the hot chocolate stacked with marshmallows and cream being particularly appetising.

The Menu

Sticklebarn serves food throughout the day from noon onwards. The lunch time menu operates between noon and 4pm, and offers a superb selection of sandwiches, soups, jacket potatoes, along with a mouth-watering sausage roll from Cumbrian award-winning butcher, Higginsons. Fans of National Trust cakes will be satisfied here, with nine to choose from. All the ingredients are sourced from local and sustainable producers wherever possible.

The limited evening menu offers an alternative to the usual pub fare, so if you are expecting fish and chips, you will sadly be disappointed. Many of the dishes instead celebrate Cumbria’s food heritage, such as Herdwick & Ale Stew, National Trust Venison Ragu, and the Herdwick Lamb Burger. Sharing platters are available, including the Cumbrian Heritage Board, which includes a range of meats, cheeses, and pickles all produced in Cumbria. Vegans also have several options to choose from. And, lastly, there is an excellent choice for children, with most of the main dishes available as smaller portions for under 8 years old.

Other Features

Sticklebarn Tavern (Langdale) beer garden

Photo thanks to the Sticklebarn Tavern (Langdale)

In the upstairs section of the inn, there is a function room with a large flat screen television. No sport is shown here, but instead the inn hosts free, weekly film nights each Tuesday with a focus on adventure films. Outside the inn, there is a huge beer garden overlooked by the Langdale fells. In warmer months, you might find a fire pit or a BBQ in operation here.

Each Wednesday from 11am until 5pm, the inn hosts children’s games and activities. There are indoor games and craft sessions, and table tennis outside on the terrace. These are free sessions and booking is not required. A quiz night is held each Sunday evening from 8pm. It costs £1 per entry and all entry money goes into the prize fund for the winning team to take away. The inn hosts additional National Trust events, such as guided walks and talks throughout the year.

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