Located in Clifton just a couple of miles from Penrith, The George and Dragon is a revamped inn on the edge of the Lake District providing outstanding food from the Lowther Estate and comfortable rooms above the cosy pub.
70,000 acres of land with a castle undergoing a complete refurb, Capability Brown landscaping, holiday cottages and working livestock farms make up the Lowther Estate with the family now committed to bringing more visitors to the area via their holiday cottages and caravan parks. The George and Dragon was really a personal project explains son Charles, whose project the inn is – there was nowhere really good to eat nearby and they decided to make the most of the fabulous produce on their own estate – from beef from their shorthorn cattle to vegetables from the kitchen gardens and fish from the Solway Estuary – to use in the kitchen.
The George and Dragon opened first as a restaurant and pub with the chef they managed to pinch from Michelin starred 21 Queen Street in Newcastle, Paul McKinnon at the helm.
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Paul loves cooking local, seasonal produce and the strength of the menu lies in its simplicity, alongside a few more ambitious things on the specials menu: the twice baked cheese soufflé is legendary in the area and the risotto and chicken liver pate I tried were heavenly. Service is fantastic and the really lovely thing was the way the George and Dragon obviously happily caters for locals who come to the pub for a pint, as well as those who’ve come further afield for the restaurant: the two sit happily side by side.
The rooms above the pub are cosy and warm and the beds are fantastically comfortable, although its hard to forget you’re beside the M6 – some of the best rooms are right next to the road and the motorway hums in the distance. But any visitor to the area is likely to be getting a good night’s sleep by virtue of the exploring they’ll be doing in the Lake District – this is a little known part of the Lakes and the Lower family are keen on bringing more people to the area to discover what it has to offer.
It’s a beautiful part of the world and this inn is a fine example of just what the area needs to boost its profile and ensure people come to appreciate its natural charms.
* George and Dragon, Clifton, Cumbria (01768 865381, www.georgeanddragonclifton.co.uk). Singles from £60 per night, doubles from £90, B&B.