On a recent short break in the Lake District staying near the village of Greystoke not far from Penrith and Ullswater we came across The Boot and Shoe, a pub which also offers meals and accommodation.
Greystoke itself is a lovely little village with its 17th century slate roofed stone houses and cottages and is also home to Greystoke Castle, the ancestral home of 'Tarzan.'
At the centre of the village there stands an ancient market cross that dates back at least to the early 1600's and it is just along from here that you will find The Boot and Shoe.
Finding out what pubs were named after is something I enjoy reading about or asking about particularly if they have an unusual name and as The Boot and Shoe is not a name I can say I have came across before, I was interested to read inside that the pub acquired its name because of the strange sartorial habit of a former Duke of Norfolk wearing a shoe on one foot and a boot on the other to ease the pain of crippling gout! It did say however, that it is not certain whether or not he shuffled down the long drive from the castle and across the green to the pub clad like this as it is not recorded, but the villagers like to think he did just to complete the story.
We were staying at a lodge park a few minutes drive up the road from the village and as the road ran alongside Greystoke Forest and was single track in places with passing spaces, it wasn't something I relished driving along at night in the pitch black darkness. It was so remote I had barely (if any) a signal on my mobile and didn't fancy pulling over to allow a car to pass in one of the more difficult spots and ending up in a muddy ditch, and so we visited the pub during the daytime for a meal on two occasions during our stay.
The Boot and Shoe is open all day and seems quite popular with locals and visitors. There are a few spaces outside to park your car, but on both occasions all available space was being used and we ended up parking by the roadside opposite the green.
The pub itself is an old coaching house which fits in well with the other buildings in the area and has retained its old charm. It looks fairly big from the outside, but I was surprised when we entered to find it is actually very small inside and cannot seat a great deal of people. There is seating outside and a patio area/garden at the back but as it was November, it wasn't really the weather for sitting out.
There are two small bars divided by a stone and brick partition, with tables of various sizes and also a few stools along the bar. As it is small with low ceilings it does feel very cosy and although the tables are close together to make use of the limited space, it didn't feel too cramped. On one wall was a bookcase holding a number of books for visitors to look at and a fireplace with a roaring log fire going sat on another.
On our first visit one afternoon, we found a small round table for two in front of the window and sat down. To be honest there was only one other table available and it had a reserved sign upon it. The lady behind the bar greeted us with a friendly smile and said we could sit at the reserved table for the time being if we wished as she was expecting some hunters coming in but not until 3pm. It was only a little after 2pm but I thanked her and told her we were fine sitting at the table by the window.
There were menus on the tables and also some specials chalked up on a blackboard on the wall. For such a small pub I was surprised at the amount of choice available which included starters, mains and desserts as well as a selection of sandwiches. There was also information on the themed nights they hold at the pub such as Tapas and Sangria night or Curry and Steak nights. All meals are cooked using locally sourced ingredients where possible.
We both decided upon a hot beef sandwich which came served with home made chips and a salad garnish. We chose these from the blackboard and at less than 10 for the two it was reasonably priced.
I ordered a soft drink as I was driving but my partner enjoyed a pint of one of the local real ales available.
The drinks were also reasonably priced.
Starters included Soup at 3.95 and Prawn Cocktail at 5.25, mains were priced at under 10 (unless you ordered steak) and included fish dishes, gammon, chilli, lasagne and burgers. Vegetarian options included Mediterranean Vegetable and mixed Bean Lasagne and Baked Goats Cheese and Sun Blushed Tomatoes wrapped in Filo Pastry on a Roast Garlic and Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce. There were also hot and cold sandwiches and jacket potatoes. Desserts included puddings, cakes and cheesecakes all priced at around 4.50.
We didn't wait long for our meals to be brought out and we thoroughly enjoyed them. The beef was tender and the home made chips delicious. The lady who had greeted us when we arrived also chatted to us before our meals were served asking where we were from etc and spoke a bit about the local area. I told her we were enjoying a short break away for my partner's birthday and she told us they get quite a few visitors from the lodge park, particularly in the warmer months.
She told us they have quiz nights on Thursday evenings and live music in the pub also at least a couple of times a month and that they were open until midnight every night apart from Thurs, Fri and Sat when they close at 1am. It is difficult to imagine how they fit live music into the space available but they obviously manage it somehow.
On our second visit, we were welcomed back again and this time the pub wasn't as busy but it was a little later in the day after 3pm. My partner was asked if he had enjoyed his birthday which I thought was nice of her to remember. Again we couldn't fault the food and service.
The toilets were very small but clean and easily accessed in a hallway off the bar area. The accommodation must be upstairs and whilst I didn't see the rooms, they did look quite nice on the photographs I saw and are advertised as twin rooms from 40 per person per night and single from from 47.50 per person per night. Dogs are welcome with prior arrangement.
I enjoyed our visits to The Boot and Shoe and will certainly visit again as we have decided we would like to return to the area for another short break in the future.
The Boot and Shoe
Tel. 017684 83343