Golden Rule, Ambleside

Smithy Brow
LA22 9AS
015394 32257

The Golden Rule is possibly the best known pub in Ambleside, especially to generations of real ale drinkers and pub lovers. It’s a traditional pub with three rooms with bench seating and real fires. Outside, the garden at the back is great on a on a sunny day, and has views over the rooftops of hills and mountains (photos 1 & 3). The front of the pub is well known for its wonderful floral displays in summer (photo 5).

Back in 1977 the Good Beer Guide described it as a “friendly local popular with hunters, farmers walkers and students” and the welcome to all still applies today. It continues to be a regular feature in the Good Beer Guide and sells four Robinsons Beers along with three guest ales. In winter the famous Old Tom is sold, an 8.5% dark old ale named after the Robinsons brewery cat (photo 2).

The Golden Rule can be found just off the main drag at the foot of “The Struggle”, the steep and tortuous road leading up to the Kirkstone Pass and the Kirkstone Pass Inn. Ambleside is on the banks of Lake Windermere, making it hugely busy in summer, and the pub is a welcome relief from the crowds, tourist shops and cafes in the town. The pub, which dates from 1683, is one of the oldest pubs in town and is Grade II listed.

I’m old enough to remember the Golden Rule when it was owned by Hartleys Brewery of Ulverston in Cumbria. The company was taken over by Robinsons in 1981 but the pub was still badged as Hartleys when I visited in 1994 (photo 4).

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