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THE BOWER HOUSE INN ‘flowers’ in CAMRA’s Pub of the Season award.

The Bower House Inn, nestling in the spectacular Eskdale valley, is surrounded by its own

beautifully tended gardens, secluded arbours and quaint, elegant buildings. Recently, the

West Cumbria branch of CAMRA took great pleasure in visiting the inn to present them with

the highest award of the season, the Autumn Pub of the Season for 2017.

Brothers James and Phil Marsham, together with Nick Putnam are the three Directors who

steer all the hard working, friendly team, in this tight run ship. Nearly 30 members of this

branch of CAMRA received a special kind of old fashioned welcome, glowing real fires in the

bar and dining room were very much appreciated along with the main feature of the day,

the beer.

Andy Roberts, Pubs Officer for the branch, paid tribute to ‘Marshy’ and the whole team. He

said, ‘Every three months we make an award to a pub who we select as doing something

rather special, it is a prestigious award of which you should be very proud.’ He continued to

add, ‘I personally have been coming to The Bower House for an awful long time, and, on a

recent visit was delightfully surprised by the range and quality of your beers. I notice there

are quite a few families in here enjoying the wonderful atmosphere, hopefully real ale

drinkers of the future. We thank you all for your dedication and congratulate you on

receiving this CAMRA Pub of the Season award for Autumn 2017.’


This inn is perfect for any occasion; large gardens to host weddings, a bar with oak-panelled

seating, captain’s chairs, beamed ceilings, and, for that extra special occasion a separate,

intimate dining room. We were served most royally by our hosts and wish The Bower House

continuing success; especially with their Christmas Party menu, served 1 st – 21 st December,

special Christmas Day meals 12 – 2pm and for a winter get away from it all – 2 night

accommodation with a 2 course meal on one of the nights (visit the website).

Many of these inns were originally farmhouses, serving ale from the front room. The

Kirkstile, Loweswater and The Pheasant, Bassenthwaite certainly originated in this way and,

we think that this also applied to The Bower House. One of our members seems to

remember two older ladies bringing jugs of beer through to the front room many years ago.

If this rings a bell with any of you, please let us know, by telling those in the pub, as this is

very much a community inn; still boasting its own cricket team, darts on Wednesdays,

weekly quizzes on Sunday, held for local charities from 5.30pm, World Food Nights on

Thursdays (booking recommended) and a piano in the corner for anyone who fancies a bit

of music.

Congratulations on being such a gem of a place, worth the extra effort in getting there, and,

you don’t even have to drive with Irton Road Station on the La’al Ratty closeby. With real

fires and real ales to tempt you, don’t stay away. Enjoy the same fantastic hospitality that

the West Cumbria branch of CAMRA were treated to very soon.





The Stag Inn at Crosby was awarded  CAMRA’S Pub of the Season for Summer 2017





Roger Brown, landlord of the popular Stag Inn at Crosby, took over the running of this inn in 2001, finding one real ale being served, a Jennings Bitter; the original beer to come from the Cockermouth brewery, brewed for over a hundred years. Deciding immediately to increase this choice to three; the West Cumbria branch of CAMRA is proud to acknowledge his contribution to keeping real ale, in good condition, by awarding him a coveted award for their Summer Pub of the Season 2017.

Roger told the assembled crowd of CAMRA members that he understood the inn to date from the late Victorian era; saying that, to his knowledge, it has always been named The Stag, and, in the beginning,  was a stopping off hostelry with facilities for coach & horses.

Lively debate followed, whilst we were sampling the three real ales, as to why the pub held the name ‘Stag’ (probably connected with hunting, landowners or royalty, as so often is the case with pub names).  It was in the reign of King Richard II, that pubs were first ordered to hang a sign outside, to make them easily visible. Many pubs adopted a white hart, the personal badge of Richard II.  It made sense to indicate your loyalty to the local lord by adopting their chosen symbol. If anybody has any clues about ‘The Stag’ let the paper know.

On behalf of the West Cumbria branch of CAMRA, Geoff Wilkinson, who lives nearby in Maryport, was delighted to make the presentation to Roger. He said, ‘It’s a great pleasure for me because The Stag holds some pleasant personal memories. In my early drinking years in the 60s, it was one of three pubs in the village, but was one of the few pubs in the area that offered bar meals. When I was courting my wife to be, I thought nothing of whisking her from her home in Allonby, to the bright lights of Crosby, to be seduced, not by my clumsy romantic efforts, but, the prospect of chicken, sausage or scampi in a basket!

He continued to add, ‘Fast forward to the 21st Century and the landlords and owners, like Roger, are faced with lots of issues which makes them have to ‘think outside the box’ to be able to run a successful pub. Over the years, drink driving laws, high rates of duty on alcohol, cheap supermarket booze resulting in changes in drinking patterns and some very confusing advice about recommended alcohol drinking levels, have thrown up many challenges for publicans.

Roger’s formula for success may seem simple in its conception, but it is by no means obvious to all involved in the pub trade. His bar staff are friendly and well informed and he keeps his beers in good condition, not afraid to try something new amongst the three cask ales he has on offer.

His kitchen staff prepare good food for an imaginative menu catering for all tastes and most allergies. The layout of the pub means that a quiet corner is never far away and this encourages conversation.  Roger himself is usually on hand keeping an eye on things and engaging in chat and banter, offering a warm welcome to everyone, be they locals or visitors.

Geoff concluded by saying, ‘The British pub has a long and fascinating heritage and CAMRA will continue to do what we can through awards like this, to support pubs and publicans serving real ale. So, congratulations to Roger and his staff for the hard work and dedication that has won them the award of the West Cumbria branch of CAMRA’s Pub of the Summer Season 2017’.    The Stag Inn opens all day (closed Tuesday lunchtime only).


Food is served at lunchtimes and every evening; with a good sized function room, often used for Christenings, Weddings, Birthdays and Anniversaries.





Fantastic award to Gosforth Hall Inn: Pub of the Year 2017!!!

Our ‘FIRST DIVISION’ says branch Chair, Chris Hale...

West Cumbria branch of CAMRA also recently presented Rod and Barbara Davies, from Gosforth Hall Inn with the top prize of Pub of the Year 2017 at their AGM, held in this excellent inn; making for a top score all round.

Chris Hale, branch Chair, said, ‘there are 163 real ale establishments in our branch area so; more than there are clubs in the top 4 Football Divisions and therefore, worth more than the winner of the First Division’. This remark was met with spontaneous applause from all the CAMRA members present, enjoying the delicious, extremely well kept real ales. Chris rounded off by saying, ‘This is it in our branch, you both have gained the top prize and you are the people who can take the credit’.


Receiving their certificate for CAMRA Pub of the Year 2017, Rod said, ‘We have been here at this inn for 15 years now and have always tried very hard to promote real ale. This is also testament to the massively strong appeal for real ale in this area. We can’t thank you enough for this wonderful award’. Barbara concluded by saying, ‘And this is (referring to Rod) the quality control man in charge of the bar’.


The couple, who work in tandem, keep a keen eye on every detail, make everybody so welcome and have transformed this inn into the most hospitable and comfortable inn over the years. Their Beer Festival in August with a ‘Beach Party’ theme, CAMRA recommends you to put in your diary, to be held on August Bank holiday 25th 26th 27th with Real Live Music, Real quaffable ales, Real fun and Real mouth watering food.







LOWTHER CLUB, WHITEHAVEN awarded  CAMRA’S Club of the Year awards, both in branch and in all of Cumbria, for 2017

Lowther Club in Lowther Street, Whitehaven has been having a refurbishment; the members have been busy with tasteful renovations to this Georgian Listed building, a friendly club, formerly the Conservative Club; where everybody is made most welcome.

The West Cumbria branch of CAMRA is so impressed with Lowther Club, that they have chosen it as their top club for 2017; with 4 constantly changing real ales, in good condition on offer and a Beer and Cider Festival to look forward to on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 26th 27th 28th May.

Kate Gilmore and Tracy Marie Dale have been singled out by the club to receive the award, Kate (right) is the club's new manager; who conceived the idea of running a Beer Festival.

She said, ‘We are thrilled to say that the top man from Beamish brewery is coming over to officially open the Beer and Cider Festival on Friday 26th at 3pm, to pull the very first pint of a beer ‘Fair’s Fayre’, exclusive to Lowther Club (not available anywhere else, except near Beamish)’. Other Beamish Beers are ‘Silver Buckles’ and Bell Tower’.

Festival doors open at 12 noon each day and entry for the whole session until midnight (at least), wrist bands mean you can come and go, are £5 for non members and, Gold passes for whole weekend £12. Ploughmans and filled rolls to soak up all that delicious beer and cider and lots of great live music – Friday has Just Graham, Matt Johnson and That 60’s Band; Saturday you can hear Committed to Rock, Just Steve, The Paddy Maguire Band, featuring Jenna Hooson and, Sunday MT Arms.

You can be guaranteed a good time, CAMRA don’t award their Club of the Year 2017 without careful assessment from all their branch members; they recently held their branch meeting here and enjoyed all the ales on offer. Get yourselves along to enjoy 12 real ciders in an upstairs dedicated cider bar and 30 real ales downstairs in Lowther Club on 26th 27th 28th May.







CAMRA take the job of keeping ‘you posted’ very seriously and, in particular, took especial delight in ‘delivering’ the recent award of Pub of the Spring Season 2017 to The Letters Inn, Aspatria.

A bus full of eager real ale drinkers from the West Cumbria branch of CAMRA visited The Letters Inn early in April to present the landlord Kevin Thurlow and landlady Lynn Ashworth with this well deserved prize.

Kevin, with his cheeky banter, greeted us with, ‘welcome to the pleasure dome’, so, we knew we were in for a very good day out. One of the most important ingredients for a successful recipe in pub management is giving customers a warm, friendly and inviting atmosphere; they have this here in spades.

On behalf of this branch of CAMRA, Geoff Wilkinson paid tribute to them saying, ‘there are many factors which contribute to success, different folk may have different ideas about what constitutes a good pub; it may be somewhere they can meet with their mates and watch sport or racing, play darts, cards or pool, listen to live music, hold a club meeting or, it may be the joy of having a quiet pint in pleasant surroundings; having a good crack or a lively debate ranging from pigeon fancying to Brexit or Donald Trump to ferret breeding. It may be somewhere to escape from the husband, wife or kids or to reminisce about times when mild was ninepence a pint or, when you could catch a train from Spyatry to Baggra’.

Geoff continued by saying, ‘ What is essential is a friendly welcome and this is what myself and others have experienced on our visits to the Letters. It attracts people of all ages and backgrounds and has become a community hub, at a time when pubs have got to be more active and innovative in getting people out of their living rooms, drinking cheap supermarket booze and down to the pub where they can engage in conversation with their fellow men and women. It’s a great stress reliever when the crack is washed down with an excellent pint of real ale’.

Geoff rounded off with, ‘So, congratulations to Kevin and his team for making the pub such an attractive destination and meeting all the criteria for making it West Cumbria CAMRA’s Spring Pub of the Season for 2017’.

In addition to serving up to two ever changing real ales the Letters Inn is a very active place for the whole community. Quizzes, and being in the District Pool League, with teams travelling away, feature highly on the agenda as well as the local Rugby teams using The Letters as their base, with a large function room at the rear of the pub.

Kevin and Lynn were thrilled to be singled out for this special CAMRA award. The West Cumbria branch of CAMRA thanks them for the wonderful hospitality that was shown to them the day they visited. It was a huge ‘thumbs up’ from all the branch members, who wish The Letters Inn, Aspatria continuing success. They urge you to get out and about whilst we still have gems of pubs, like this, on our doorstep. www.westcumbriacamra.org.uk







January 2017 A GLOWING AWARD BY CAMRA for the Bridge Inn at SANTON BRIDGE

Nearly thirty members of the West Cumbria branch of CAMRA received the warmest of welcomes at the Bridge Inn recently: a glowing, crackling fire to greet, not only us, but a family on holiday with a young baby, and several other locals and visitors enjoying the inn’s fine hospitality.

CAMRA was there to present the seasonal award for the best pub in West Cumbria for Winter 2016/2017 and Stephen Walker, on behalf of all the eager real ale drinkers from this branch of CAMRA, expressed his appreciation to Steve Cottrell, and all his staff, for the part they have all played to help promote quality ales. He said, ‘with 21 pubs a week nationally closing down, we select our award winners very carefully; recognising the importance of the survival of pubs in the community, we have to get this right. I walked through the door today, and saw 7 hand pumps serving real ale; including a delicious Adnams beer I was drinking in Suffolk only weeks ago. Well done to you all on this great achievement’.

Steve Cottrell, who took over the Bridge Inn in January 2015, is certainly doing ‘his bit’ to save pubs. After recently taking over The Globe in Gosforth, together with Irton Hall, he now has a ‘hat-trick’ of pubs. He says, ‘I have always supported local pubs, I think they offer so much to the local community; we are delighted to receive this special CAMRA award and, I wish, on a personal note, to thank everybody, especially the staff at the Bridge Inn. Humphrey Ringa, our Bar Manager, deserves to be singled out for his incredible contribution’.


Left to right: Humphrey Ringa, Bar Manager;  Jonny Cottrell, General Manager,;Stephen Walker, West Cumbria CAMRA, member presenting the award.


The Bridge Inn, once a modest, mailcoach halt, is now a fine country inn; with one of the most spectacular locations in the Western Lakes and Fells. With locally sourced, good food on offer in either the Dalesman Bar or the Eskdale Room, you can be sure of complimenting any good real ale with a perfect selection from the varying menu. You will find a fine selection of Jennings beers, alongside an ever-changing range of interesting guest beers.

On the day of the West Cumbria branch of CAMRA’s visit, we were greeted by Humphrey Ringa, Bar Manager at this inn since June 2006 and Jonny Cottrell, who is Steve’s son and General Manager. After looking after the cellar here for over 10 years, Humphrey was proud to receive this CAMRA Pub of the Winter Season award. He said, "It gives me personal pleasure for the inn to be recognised with this award; having had no real ale experience before coming here from Kenya, I have learned and listened to our customers; my true measure is the enjoyment I see in our discerning drinkers when they sip, taste and savour their real ales".

Make time to visit the Bridge Inn soon; experience that warm welcome yourself, with 7 real ales to suit every taste.

Eileen Lithgow



October 2016 Tom Fool and CAMRA at the Inn,  Ravenglass

West Cumbria Branch of CAMRA members had a brush with Tom Fool at The Inn, Ravenglass on Saturday 11th October when Stephen Walker presented a well deserved Pub of the Autumn Season Award. The Inn used to be called Holly House until it was acquired by The Pennington Hotels and Inns Group just under two years ago.

Stephen Walker, the Chairman of West Cumbria Branch of CAMRA echoed the sentiments of all the members and other real ale drinkers in the cosy bar when he paid tribute to Peter and Ioana Pennington, and all their hard-working staff,  for going that extra mile in making sure quality always comes first.

This 17th Century Inn on the western side of the Lake District is located in the National Park‘s only coastal village, Ravenglass. With spectacular views across the dunes and estuary where three rivers meet:   the Esk, the Mite and the Irt, it was thrilling to sit outside, chat with old and newly made friends, whilst watching the glorious sun set and view the fishing boats that brought fresh fish and lobster to the table earlier that day.

The Pennington Group of Hotels and Inns have been offering superb real ale in Ravenglass for several years at The Pennington Hotel,  just a short distance from The Inn.  A landlord from twenty five years ago,  Barry Davies, a member of one of the oldest families in Ravenglass was found still enjoying his beer at The Inn on the day CAMRA presented this prestigious award to Debs Falks, Craig Niven, Peter and Iona Pennington.


With a choice of at least three real ales (many more in the summer months)  CAMRA members were treated to five beers, all in excellent condition. Coniston XB and their national award  winning Bluebird Bitter, Hardknott Coolfusion with its ginger notes, Robinson‘s South Island, a New Zealand Blonde Ale with Nelson Sauvin hop, Hesket Newmarket Red Pike and another Hardknott beer from nearby Millom, Tom Fool, a delicious golden ale.


Tom Skelton the 16th Century court jester at Muncaster Castle with his links to Shakespeare and the ghost stories about him causing trouble today is a fitting character to have this ale named after him. Infact, in Tom‘s day it was safer to drink beer than water!

Peter Pennington enjoyed a drink of Tom Fool with CAMRA members and chatted about the visionary changes that have and are being wrought at The Inn.


He paid particular tribute to Debs Falk who built up The Inn for 17 months before moving to another of their establishments, Sella Park Country House Hotel and chief chef Craig Niven who Peter recalled  resembles Aladdin in the cave when he sees the fresh produce brought in each day.  Because the menu changes daily in accordance with the selection of fish and seafood available.  The Inn specialises in sustainably sourced and locally landed produce so that visitors experience a real taste of Cumbria.‘


Stephen Walker and all of CAMRA members enjoyed a superb visit to The Inn. He urges readers to get out there and investigate the wealth of hospitality not only in Ravenglass but around our area‘.

If you would like to join an overnight Ghost Vigil at Muncaster Castle on Friday 31st October to see Tom Skelton and other spirits see the Muncaster website. If not, pop in The Inn at Ravenglass to enjoy a Tom Fool Ale instead!

Opening times at The Inn are:      Mon  5pm - 11pm;      Tues - Sun  12noon - 11pm

Food service:     Mon 5pm - 10pm (pizzas only);  Tues - Sat  12noon  -  9pm;  Sun 12 noon -  6pm.

They also serve take away fish and chips and pizza.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 November 2017 14:18