Six pubs in the Beer Guide and NONE of them are open !

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.

11 thoughts on “Six pubs in the Beer Guide and NONE of them are open !

    1. Oooh, that’s the sort of thing Simon would notice. Stockton-on-Tees has gone from a Bass pub and trad ales to 4 micro/craft bars in 5 years, I guess. Chester’s entries have changed dramatically in a decade too.


  1. The pubs of yore are no longer here. Will they return? Who knows. Did first mini-crawl (six) since Freedom Day (Tm Johnson), in a four mile radius – all pubs used before the pandemic – chatting to the landlords, today. 1) Brewery outlet – will only be doing their own, all guests banished. 2) Free House, 15+ years continuously in the GBG – after much discussion and anguish, will be pulling the cask and going ‘craft keg’. 3) A Fuller’s – no discernible change. 4) More a food pub, but previously tried with its beers – will now be going multinational lowest common denominator and price. 5) Changed hands across the pandemic, so didn’t know him. One cask option and rest multinational fizz as advertised on the telly. 6) Greene King pub – reduced to one cask from three – yep, we all only need one beer… so long as it’s not fecking GK IPA! – and rest multinational advertised keg, none of which were discernibly much to do with Greene King. So, early days, tiny sample, no statistical validity… but my impression is: 1) there will be one big winner emerging from this shitfest – the multinationals will extend and consolidate their hold over the family/foodie pubs beer drinkers tended to suffer – turning them into fast food restaurants in all but name ; and 2) cask as a mainstream product will become niche…even for those backing the One Is Enough tendency… back to the 70’s of discovered in tied houses – of which there are now much fewer – of regional brewers; and specialist pubs/micros in urban centres.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s always good to get detailed feedback and that’s pretty much my experience as well. Spoons in particular have dropped from 5 or 6 to 3 or 4 beers, the usual ones, and Greene King and Marston cut back as well. Worrying times for cask, and to be honest the bigger keg brands like Magic Rock and Tiny Rebel and Thornbridge have fared better in this heat than cask.


  2. Not sure that this is one up on you Martin, but in the dim and very distant past, I had a pint, or possibly two, in the Ring O’ Bells.

    The year was 1976, and the beer was Lorimer’s 70/- shilling? Student field trip to the edge of the Lake District and very happy days! 🌞

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was at the Ring O’Bells in 2013 ( when shillings were long since out of circulation, but I do vaguely remember Lorimers 70/-. An Edinburgh brewery, part-owned by Vaux apparently. The latter owned the Travellers Rest near Grasmere in the 70s or 80s, so it wouldn’t surprise me that their beers were in Kendal too.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually, I just realised that most pubs don’t have huge staff numbers these days; and one person having a pub crawl there, just before getting a positive test, could cause a significant “Ping-gate” and severely impact opening hours.

      Liked by 1 person

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