The Drunken Duck Inn (Ambleside)

Barngates, Ambleside, LA22 0NG
The Drunken Duck Inn (Ambleside) Outside

Perched high on a crossroads seemingly in the middle of nowhere, the Drunken Duck Inn appears at first glance to be an unlikely candidate for one of the Lake District’s most chic and in demand pub restaurants. This former farm house stands alone, around two-miles from Ambleside, yet to get a table here in the evening you have to book a few weeks in advance, whilst at lunch time, you can expect to queue out of the door.

Inside this cosy, yet sophisticated country inn you will find quirky and elegant interiors with an eclectic mixture of artwork on the walls, hops hanging from the ceiling, wooden flooring, and comfortable armchairs in the bar. The inn is celebrated both for its food, which goes well beyond traditional pub grub, venturing into Michelin star territory, and for its own micro-brewery, Barngates, that supplies all of the pub’s real ales.

Food & Drink

The Drunken Duck Inn (Ambleside) pub

The current owners took over the Drunken Duck Inn in the 1970s, but the micro-brewery was added later in 1997. From humble beginnings the brewery has become a fabulous success, supplying ale to around 80 other establishments in the area on a seasonal basis. All of the ales available at the inn are brewed here, with three regular ales that include the brewery’s very popular Tag Lag, as well as three guest ales.

Wine & Spirits

The wine list could rival a high-end restaurant with an excellent and extensive choice, including around 20 available by the glass. Furthermore, there is an inventive gin menu that includes a few botanical varieties distilled on site, as well as an excellent selection of single malt whiskies.

The Menu

What the Drunken Duck Inn is best known for is the food. Created in an open kitchen that is within full view of the dining area, the modern and imaginative menu is not your average pub fayre. Lunches are available between noon and 3.30pm (4pm on Sundays) with an interesting choice of sharing boards, and unusual light meals, such as Cullen Skink, a traditional Scottish haddock soup, duck hash, or sweetcorn fitters.

Evening meals, if you are lucky enough to get a table, are available between 6pm and 9pm, with a mouth-watering array of modern dishes to choose from, including cucumber gazpacho and glazed ox cheek. There is a limited choice for children, though fussy eaters may be appeased with a fishfinger sandwich.

Other Features

The Drunken Duck Inn (Ambleside) roadside views

The inn welcomes dogs into the bar area, and in a small section of the dining area where there are a limited number of tables. There is a small beer garden at the front of the pub, across the narrow country lane. Don’t let the roadside location put you off – the views are fabulous.


The Drunken Duck is housed in a former farmhouse, but it is believed to have been converted into a pub around 300 years ago. Legend has it that in the 19th century, the landlady of the time found her ducks lying on the road and assumed that they had all died. She began plucking them with the intention of cooking them but they came around, and it transpired that a barrel of beer had fallen off the shelf and spilled beer all over the floor, seeping into the feeding area. The ducks were not dead, merely drunk. The landlady was so full of remorse after plucking their feathers that she knitted them all woollen waistcoats to keep them warm.


The Drunken Duck Inn (Ambleside) accommodation

There are 13 rooms at the Drunken Duck Inn and no two are the same. Some rooms have an elegant and classic country inn feel to them, others are more modern with unusual prints on the wall. Some have access to a patio, and all have large en-suite bathroom facilities. There are standard and superior rooms, as well as two sumptuous suites that have their own seating areas. All rooms are equipped with high quality complimentary toiletries, flat screen televisions, and free Wi-Fi.

There are no tea and coffee making facilities in the rooms, but guests can call reception at any time and request tea and coffee to be delivered free of charge. Furthermore, along with a full cooked breakfast, a daily afternoon tea is included in the room rate. Guests also receive complimentary access to the spa facilities at the nearby Langdale Hotel.


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