Following a hearty late breakfast I pulled on my boots in readiness for a good day’s walking in the beautiful countryside surrounding Lake Windermere.
I managed to get 400 yards before literally stumbling across a picture-postcard pub called the Hole In t’Wall, Bowness. Twelve yards later, I was leaning on the bar placing my order. The clock had bearly passed midday.
I am a sucker for a traditional old English boozer and this place, with it’s dry stone garden wall, wooden stocks and white painted exterior, oozes that old-fashioned charm that many of us city dwellers like so much.
To be fair to me, 400 yards was a good effort. The sun was beating down and there was a spot available in the beer garden. If I hadn’t stopped for a beer then I could have landed-up in those stocks facing the firing squad for crimes against boozing.
Anyhow, I bought a pint of Hartley’s XB Gold (4%) and went to sit outside.
I let out a satisfying gasp of ‘aaaaaah’ as I took my first swig of ale. It was like an involuntary action brought on by the sheer joy at having a pint in my hand and an excuse not to go walking.
The Hole in t’Wall is the oldest pub in Bowness, having been built in 1612 and this is reflected in its rather quirky interior.
A favourite haunt of Charles Dickens, the Hole is often buzzing with a mix of tourists and locals and it’s easy to see why. The classic ingredients of an open fire, slate flooring and low beamed ceiling is a winner with many in search of the quintessential English country pub.
The beams are lined with a fine array of water jugs and chamber pots – perfect for punters like myself who often get caught short while dashing to the loo.
Just to the right of the bar, down a small flight of stairs is a dimly lit room called Old Smithy’s Bar which has some excellent stained glass windows.
The New Hall Inn, as the pub is also known, acquired the name Hole in t’Wall because the blacksmith who worked next door often popped in for a pint. To save him the enormous inconvenience at having to walk such a great distance, the pub actually knocked a hole in the wall so pints could be passed through to the blacksmith – hence the name of the pub and the area of it known as Old Smithy’s Bar.
It’s not just the tourists and locals which pack this pub, there’s the stuffed animals too. Lots of them.
If you didn’t know where you were you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled into the workshop of an eccentric taxidermist.
The lakes and fells of this stunningly beautiful corner of England prove to be an irresistible attraction for thousands of tourists every year.
But forget pounding pavements and footpaths, walkers should take a book and head to this pub to soak up the history, peace and quiet. For me, it was an afternoon well spent.
THE INNSPECTRE’S SUMMARY
ADDRESS: THE HOLE IN T’WALL, Lowside, Robinson Place, Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 3DH. 01539 443488.
ATMOSPHERE: *** Quiet, just how I like it. A few folk, like myself, soaked up the sun in the beer garden, while only a couple of miserable swines chose to stay inside.
DECOR: **** Dark, cosy and interesting.
SERVICE: **** A nice, polite young lad served me. He was a cool dude. In fact, he’s the kind of dude you’d expect to find in a boy band or in a TV show like Hollyoaks. I used to be cool.
SELECTION: *** A good choice of northern brews including Robinson’s Dizzy Blonde and Union Double Hop.
PRICE: *** £3.20 for my XB is pretty good. Double Hop was £3.50.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS: The Hole in t’Wall offers a good range of ciders and homemade meals. The pub hosts regular live music nights.