Even on a warm July day the smell of logs burning wafts out the front door of the Kirkstone Pass Inn. The fire burns continuously on the hearth in the very heart of the Lake District… And at 1500 feet up above sea level, the smell drifting from the pub is stark in contrast to the otherwise fresh air of the mountain pass.
Kirkstone Pass Inn
In fact, the Kikstone Pass Inn is the third highest Inn in England and sits in the middle of the Kirkstone Pass, a perilous stretch of road connecting the settlements of Windermere and Patterdale. The notable stretch of road mere yards from the doorstep of the Inn is simply known as ‘the Struggle’, an indication that this road is not for the faint of heart, nor should it be driven in difficult conditions.
There has been a building here since the 15th-Century (1496 to be precise!) and it’s the highest inhabited building in all of Cumbria. It’s thought that the Inn was originally connected with a nearby Monastery at Ullswater, but over the centuries was transformed into a coaching Inn. ‘Kirk’ is the Old Scottish-English Word for ‘church’, owing to a nearby stone which resembles a church’s spire.
In the past, the Inn would have been a welcome source of rest and comfort for local residents herding their livestock across the harsh terrain. Before an era of tarmac and asphalt, the already difficult roads would have been dirt and almost impassable, even in the best weather conditions. (And, let’s be honest, you don’t come to the Lake District for the weather!)
Kirkstone Pass Inn, Circa 1858, via Wikipedia
Visiting the Kirstone Pass Inn
Today, the Kirkstone Pass welcomes weary adventurers, locals and tourists alike in its cozy setting. Sit inside and enjoy the fire, or venture out into the elements and admire the views below from the picnic tables set up opposite the Inn. Just sitting and watching people go by in both settings are experiences of their own…
The Inn is making an extra effort to be environmentally friendly and runs solely on wind power from a nearby turbine! There are also many vegetarian options on offer (which was a pretty nice surprise if you’re a non-meat eater like me!)