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|Address:||Elterwater, Ambleside, Cumbria LA22 9HP|
|Price: £40.00||Wine: £14.50||Champagne: £39.95|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 12N-2, 6-8.45|
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A group of us stayed at The Britannia Inn recently for a long weekend of swimming in the Lake District. Yep, you read that right, swimming. And swimming, as everyone knows, makes you hungry. If you can imagine how hungry you are after a dip in your cosy, chlorinated, local pool, then imagine how hungry you are after a chilly slog across Coniston Water. So the food here had some huge holes to fill, and it did that admirably. The menu is hale and hearty in that countryside way which cocks a snoop at nouveau pretensions: steak and ale pie with a suet crust, yes; battered haddock and chips, yes; goat's cheese salad with a honey and balsamic dressing, don't make me laugh! They still serve veg in porcelain bowls and it will almost certainly be boiled broccoli, cauliflower and a pureed swede/carrot mix. Taste-wise, it's about as subtle as the menu would suggest, but that's fine by most people: what you want after a long, leg-aching walk or 45 mins in 13 degree water is something which radiates warmth from the stomach outwards, not something which chilli-burns your tongue but leaves you shivering. It should come as no surprise then that it seems popular with locals and walkers (as well as the lesser spotted swimmers) and the benches outside filled up quickly at the weekend when it was sunny; inside seemed to get equally busy on weekend evenings with Sunday night no exception (thanks to the hotly contested quiz night of which no more shall be mentioned). The service is spot on for a country pub: at times it may seem a little chaotic but it always comes with a smile and always turns up trumps in the end. A lovely place for a well-deserved meal or as a base from which to explore this extraordinarily beautiful part of England.