Walking in the Lake District has always involved a crippling paradox. You walk to work up an appetite for a pint. You drink to take the thirst off the walking. Then you need to walk off the pint. Then you need another pint. Add to this a landscape so epic that you never want to go indoors again, and inns so cosy that you can't bear to leave the fireside, and the life of the fell walker is a morass of conflicting passions. No wonder Wainwright was such a tortured old soul. Nestled in a crook of land between Conistan Old Man and the Langdale Pikes, The Drunken Duck perfectly embodies the dilemmas of this landscape.
The walker encounters it on a soggy trip via Duck Tarn, past a row of ramshackle cottages. When the sun chases across the side of the mountains, it looks as if God is smiling. But inside, it is as dark and warm as the landscape outside is rainy and immense. It has wide oak flooring, wooden beams and open fires. Its beers are named after long-gone pub pets. Its black slate bar is quarried just down the road, and so are its immense sandwiches: Lakeland free-range egg; local honey-roast ham; roast pure-bred Galloway topside of beef ... They even brew their own ales. Tucked into a leather armchair with a pint, the inside emotion takes over and it suddenly becomes impossible to leave the hearth. Fortunately, there are rooms to rent with views of the Langdales. So there's no need to get overemotional about leaving just yet.
The Drunken Duck, Ambleside, Cumbria (01539 436347)Reuse content