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Pub review: Inside 17th Century Horse & Farrier, a Lake District walker’s paradise

Above the grand front door of this walking paradise of a Lake District pub is a date engraved in curly red and black numbers: 1688.

The Horse & Farrier, originally a ranch before the savvy farmer took the plunge, has been letting travelers pass by well before the days of Wordsworth’s solitary wanderings and the ensuing tourist boom.

In those early days, only the most hardened would make it. In his 1720 travel book, A Tour Through The Whole Island Of Great Britain, Daniel Defoe, on arrival at Windermere and its ‘unpaffable hills’, declared that ‘all pleasant part of England was at an end’, and returned to London.

Tom Chesshyre has checked in to the Horse and Farrier (above), which is right across from Blencathra Mountain in the village of Threlkeld

Beautiful: Tom describes Blencathra, pictured, as one of the 'very most beautiful peaks' of the Lake District

Beautiful: Tom describes Blencathra, pictured, as one of the ‘very most beautiful peaks’ of the Lake District

In his 1720s travel book, A Tour Through The Whole Island Of Great Britain, Daniel Defoe, upon arrival at Windermere and its unpaffable hills, declared that all the pleasant part of England was at an end, and returned to London.  Above - Blencathra

In his 1720 travel book, A Tour Through The Whole Island Of Great Britain, Daniel Defoe, on arrival at Windermere and its ‘unpaffable hills’, declared that ‘all pleasant part of England was at an end’, and returned to London. Above – Blencathra

Of course, the rugged mountains (or hills) would soon become the big lure, rather than a reason to stay away.

And one of the prettiest peaks, Blencathra, is right behind the Horse & Farrier, making a perfect base for an ascent.

From the outside, the old inn in the peaceful village of Threlkeld looks quaint and inviting: a terrace of whitewashed buildings with black frames, flowers in hanging baskets and a colorful pub sign featuring a hard-working farrier nailing a horseshoe.

Inside, fires flicker and a series of labyrinthine rooms with cozy nooks stretch beneath a low beamed ceiling.

Tom dined on chicken madras, one of the inn's 'classic' dishes, with mango chutney, poppadoms and turmeric rice

Tom dined on chicken madras, one of the inn’s ‘classic’ dishes, with mango chutney, poppadoms and turmeric rice

Tom says the Horse & Farrier looks 'picturesque and inviting' from the outside, and 'the fires flicker' inside

Tom says the Horse & Farrier looks ‘picturesque and inviting’ from the outside, and ‘the fires flicker’ inside

The inn has a dozen 'smart' rooms, which have been recently renovated

The inn has a dozen ‘smart’ rooms, which have been recently renovated

Hikers sheltering from a downpour huddled, steam rising from fleeces as they sipped pints of Wainwright — a ale named after famed Lakeland hiker and guide-writer Alfred Wainwright.

The approximately ten neat rooms of the independently run inn, owned by the Arkley family, have been recently renovated. Mine was in shades of gray with a comfortable wide bed and good linens. The bathroom was nicely decorated with olive tiles and a decent shower. Just what was needed after tackling Blencathra.

But the hills are not the only local attraction. The bustling market town of Keswick can be reached via a five-mile former railway line converted into a footpath. The intriguing Threlkeld Quarry and Mining Museum, housed in an old granite quarry, is across the road. Plus, you can play a game of darts at Horse & Farrier’s merry nearby sister pub, the Salutation (known as The Sally). The Sally also has newly renovated rooms.

About his stay, Tom said he was 'glad to have chosen the Horse & Farrier for the night'

About his stay, Tom said he was ‘glad to have chosen the Horse & Farrier for the night’

Tom writes: 'Hikers sheltering from a downpour huddled, steam rose from the pelts as they drank pints of Wainwright - a beer named after the famous Lakeland hiker and guide-writer Alfred Wainwright'

Tom writes: ‘Hikers sheltering from a downpour huddled, steam rose from the pelts as they drank pints of Wainwright – a beer named after the famous Lakeland hiker and guide-writer Alfred Wainwright’

The breakfast was 'memorable', says Tom - 'perfectly poached eggs, a generous helping of smoked salmon and excellent coffee'.  Above Blencathra rules the village of Threlkeld

The breakfast was ‘memorable’, says Tom – ‘perfectly poached eggs, a generous helping of smoked salmon and excellent coffee’. Above Blencathra rules the village of Threlkeld

B&B rates at the Horse & Farrier start from £110 per night.  The image above shows snow on top of Blencathra

B&B rates at the Horse & Farrier start from £110 per night. The image above shows snow on top of Blencathra

The bustling market town of Keswick, above, can be reached from the Horse & Farrier along a former 5 mile railway line converted into a footpath

The bustling market town of Keswick, above, can be reached from the Horse & Farrier along a former 5 mile railway line converted into a footpath

Good, hearty food is available at the Horse & Farrier itself – burgers, steak pies, fish and chips, lamb shank – attracting locals and tourists alike. On the evening of my stay there was a genius buzz of conversation. When I saw a neighbor eating a delicious-smelling chicken madras, one of the inn’s ‘classic’ dishes, I ordered the same and it was no disappointment: spicy and tender, with mango chutney, poppadoms and turmeric rice.

Breakfast was equally memorable: perfectly poached eggs, a generous helping of smoked salmon and excellent coffee.

I then went up to the hills again, a spring in my step, glad I had chosen the Horse & Farrier for the night.

TRAVEL FACTS

Horse & Farrier, Threlkeld, Cumbria. B&B from £110 per night (horseandfarrier.com).

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