The Old Crown - Hesket Newmarket
Hesket Newmarket is right on the northern edge of the Lake District,and I first visited about five years ago. This was not an accident. A friend of mine Dave, when hearing I was heading that way, informed me I should not miss The Old Crown as it was his favourite pub in the country. Dave knows his onions when it comes to beer, so this was not advice to be easily ignored. So, after a thrilling day of terror on Striding Edge, we headed up to Hesket in the camper van to see what was so good about it.
There are some pubs that when you walk in them, you know immediately you have made a mistake. The chattering of the customers dies away and they silently watch as you make your way nervously to the bar to order a pint. You can feel their eyes boring into you as you peruse the pumps and a cold sweat breaks out. You order a half, down it in one and get out of there.
The patrons in the Old Crown, on the other hand, go out of their way to be friendly. On my first visit and on all my subsequent ones, I have never failed to easily fall into conversation with the other customers and the bar staff are always friendly.
Maybe this has something to do with the fact that The Crown is a co-operative, formed in 2003 when 125 customers clubbed together to buy the pub. The brewery behind the pub had become a co-operative a few years earlier so it made sense. Prince Charles has visited the pub a couple of times and was served a complimentary drink as he apparently doesn't carry any money with him. Maybe I'll try that next time!
The beer is supplied by Hesket Newmarket Brewery, also a co-operative and situated rihgt behind the pub. They range from Scafell Blonde, a pale golden beer which uses some lager malts - to the dark, maltiness of Great Cockup Porter, and many other delicious brews including Blencathra, Skiddaw Special and the legendary Doris' 90th Birthday Ale.
My personal favourite is the Skiddaw Special, which slides down exceedingly well with one of the Old Crown curries.
Old climbing equipment and signed pictures of various climbers are around the walls, including Chris Bonington who downed the first pint of 'Doris' back in 1998.
And at the end of the evening its just a short stagger along the road to Greenhill Farm which offers camping facilities in the field behind the farmhouse. Hopefully some forward planning will have taken place and the tent erected before a session in the pub - or working out just which pole goes where may be something of a trial...
|Well appointed facilities at campsite|