30 years ago | Drunken Duck Inn, Barngates, Cumbria | 9th April 1993
In our first year at University, a few of us decided to meet up in the Lake District over the Easter weekend. We arrived at the campsite at Low Wray, on the north-western shore of Windermere and set up our tents.
With everyone having assembled by around tea-time on the Maundy Thursday, there was nothing else left to do but go to the pub. But where was it?
Fortunately, someone had spotted a small sign pointing up the hill about a mile and.a half back down the road to the site. That was good enough for us, so off we wandered, hoping it wouldn’t be too much further from the sign.
Not only was it almost another mile further on but the rest of the walk was a steep incline, climbing for over 300 feet. We were all starting to work up a thirst. Hopefully, this place would be worth the effort required to get there.
Was it ever! We arrived at a charming pub called the Drunken Duck Inn, ordered a round of Old Peculiers and sat outside, around the bench tables across the road. In the mild spring sunshine, we chatted and ate and drank as the evening wore on. Through nothing but pure luck, it just became one of those magical nights when all the elements were perfect.
Not only did we go back the next night but we were there the next year as well, each time expecting the experience couldn’t possibly measure up to that mythical first night. Every time, we were pleasantly surprised that it did. The place seemed to be enchanted, as if it could only be accessed from the outside world via a portal.
I’ve been back a few times since then, over the years – I even bought the T-shirt on one visit. It’s gone a little more gentrified in recent times but at least it’s still there, still legendary. One day I’ll go again and when I do, I’ll sit at those bench tables across the road.