I caught the 13:55, just, and after changing at the mysterious “Oxenholme for the Lake District” found myself in the enigmatic Kendal for the first time since 2017.
I actually completed the chunky Kendal set back then, but a year or two later I find SIX (6) new entries. What’s happened ?
Well, brewery taps and beer bars, mainly.
I’d spent, ooh, 73 minutes trying to work out what was open and when, but reckoned that if I turned up at 14:40 and hoped I’d be able to start making some inroads into that half-dozen.
Surely, in a Lakeland tourist town where the cheapest central room available tomorrow night is £218, there’d be enough trade for pubs to open up on a Tuesday in July ?
Well, they must all stick to the Spoons, or the Costa, or take afternoon tea in their Guest Houses, as the centre of town wasn’t bustling.
And NONE of the six were open. Perhaps they never are open at that time, but you can’t sell much beer if you’re closed. The famed Ring O’ Bells (top), the one on consecrated ground, is up for rent. Will I ever make it there.
At the Barrel House on the sprawling industrial estate that is craft central, the cafe was open, and I almost claimed an accidental tick of Soup (a DIPA ?) in Joey’s,
but the Barrel House Tap wasn’t open till Thursday and couldn’t sell me a single bottle of their beer to take away either. Their gaff, their rules.
I popped across the industrial estate to the Factory Tap, which had people outside and in, but it didn’t open till 4 either.
“Nowhere’s open in Kendal !” I said, a miserable wretch after travelling all day for no reward (OK, Lancaster).
I trudged back through town, hoping to find something new to admire, and to be fair there’s a lot of little dark alleys and lanes which in Leeds or Dumfries would have pubs at the end.
I walked to the Union Tavern, which my extensive (but flawed) research told me opened at 16:30. It had opened an hour early today. My spirits lifted, and I forgot to take a photo so this one will have to do.
What a pub this was. The landlady was cheer and cheek in equal measure, pointed me to a beer board when seeing my confusion at the lack of pump clips,
and I joined the other early riser with a lovely pint of Kirby Lonsdale.
It’s not ancient, or modern, or crafty, or trad, but it had a sense of Pub I’d been missing for a while, and the landlady regaled us with tales of behaviour at the bar that reminded me all this table service was about to go
forever till winter.
Kendal redeemed. And that was just the start.