The Traveller's Rest, near Grasmere

AS a born and bred Cumbrian I have always prided myself on knowing my home county like the back of my hand. The only trouble with that, is that I don't really - as evidenced by my woeful performance as an impromptu tour guide while driving a German visitor into the Lake District for lunch last weekend.

The German - Peter, from Bavaria - was staying with my best friend, whom he has known since their university days.

We packed him into the back of my car and headed into the Lakes via Coniston, pointing out various landmarks on our way to the Traveller's Rest inn on the A591 towards Keswick.

Our slightly convoluted route left poor Peter feeling both sick (our Lakeland lanes being a far cry from the German autobahns) and unimpressed with our tour guide efforts. Between us, we managed to misidentify Coniston Old Man and get Rydal briefly confused with Grasmere - but otherwise we were brilliant.

It was persistently raining as we arrived at the Traveller's Rest, a pretty, whitewashed traditional pub on the roadside, so we scurried inside and settled ourselves in the attractive - and suprisingly large - dining room.

There are two cosy bar areas, each with fires, as well as the dining room, so no shortage of space. The menu is standard traditional pub food, with specials on blackboards.

Meals are divided in terms of size - small, medium and large - which seems a sensible idea. Special dietary requirements are taken seriously - with plenty on the menu to cater for intolerances and allergies.

Between us we ordered a Traveller's ploughman's platter for Sarah at £10.25, Cumberland sausage with cabbage and bacon at £13.95 for me, and a slow-braised lamb shank (£15.95) for Peter, who had never heard of such a thing.

The brief wait for the food was spent gazing out of the window at the mist-clad fells and discussing Brexit, which left Peter none the wiser, as Sarah was a staunch remainer while I was a determined leaver.

Delivered by a charming young European waitress, the food was towards the top end of quality for a pub meal, without nudging into gastro-pub territory.

Sarah's platter was a generous affair, piled with thick, excellent ham, traditional cheeses and other bits and bobs, including a rather dry Scotch egg ("not as good as the Co-op's" was Sarah's verdict) and a tasty pork pie.

My sausage was lovely and spicy, piping hot and served on a bed of good mash and in a rich gravy. I'd actually asked for chips, but wasn't remotely bothered by the mistake - and the apologetic waitress immediately brought a huge bowl of excellent chips as a freebie extra, which was a very nice touch and well-received - as was the free, delicious bread brought as we sat down to order drinks.

Peter enjoyed his first ever lamb shank but balked at our insistence that he try some good old English brown sauce along with it. "What is is?" he asked, squinting at the bottle, "chocolate sauce"?

Eventually, he capitulated and tried some and declared it "interesting" but I don't think he had any plans to smuggle a few bottles back to Bavaria in his luggage.

A shared sticky toffee pudding and ice cream ("another English classic!") went down a treat and we left the Traveller's feeling replete with traditional British food and having done our German visitor proud.

The service had been friendly and efficient throughout, and we all enjoyed the atmosphere and cosy surroundings.

The continued driving rain put paid to our plans for further sightseeing in the Lakes, Sarah pointing vaguely up the A591 and informing Peter "there's more lakes and mountains up there".

Then we headed back south, via a less travel-sickness-inducing route, for Sarah to introduce poor Peter to the mysteries of Six Nations rugby which, she reported later, he found both baffling and hilarious.

The Traveller's Rest lives up to its name - and is well worth stopping off there. Good food, friendly service and an inviting atmosphere. Our German visitor was well impressed with everything, except the English roads ("I think I'm feeling sick because you're driving on the wrong side") and his hostesses' skills as tour guides.


Food 4 Service 4 Atmosphere 4 Value 4


Traditional menu Lots of seating areas Cosy feel


Outdoor drinking and dining will be noisy due to busy road