A COUNTRY pub in the idyllic Winster Valley has set up a “barter board” encouraging customers to exchange home-grown produce for a pint.

From damsons to carrots and winter greens - even an hour’s gardening - the blackboard at the Hare and Hounds in the hamlet of Bowland Bridge lets locals know what they can swap with the kitchen.

Bartering is one of several ideas that new owner Coastal and Country Inns hopes will place the rural pub firmly at the community’s heart. The Post Office is making twice-weekly visits and Cartmel Fell WI was invited for a fireside natter while knitting tea cosies .

“I love the idea of a barter board,” said WI member Molly Wood, “particularly as I have a freezer full of local damsons.” Ruth Smith added: “It’s nice to see a local pub become the heart of the community again.”

Many Cumbrians have fond memories of the years when the late Peter Thompson, stellar Liverpool FC and England footballer, ran the pub.

Chris Hannon, MD of Manchester’s Coastal and Country Inns, said: “I see country inns as an integral part of the community both socially and economically. We want local people to feel the pub is theirs for food, drink and jobs. Food will be measured in yards rather than miles with as much produce sourced as locally as possible including lamb, beef, damsons, gin and cider.”

The Hare and Hounds is one of six businesses owned by Coastal and Country Inns, including the Crown Inn at Roebridge, North Yorkshire.

“There is a calendar of established dates in Bowland Bridge - a duck race, a storytelling festival - which we hope to add to with food and music events,” added Mr Hannon. “We want it to be a place we would be delighted to call our local.”