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South of Penrith, Clifton is a small, rather undistinguished village but it has something to celebrate with the George and Dragon. This lively inn is a major local draw and, with its handful of bedrooms, makes an ideal stop-off en route to Scotland. Draught ales, open fires and proud photographs of the owner’s prize-winning cattle characterise the bar. The restaurant has cosy corners, wooden flooring, blackboard menus and an open kitchen from which surprisingly good food emerges. Try a gutsy pork fillet with pak choi, or a neat mound of cured salmon with beetroot, capers and pickled fennel. There’s sea bass and prawn tagliatelle too, or venison with wild mushroom risotto, plus reassuring desserts such as apple and sultana crumble. The excellent wine list includes many available by the glass or carafe. Nearby, swanky Askham Hall is under the same ownership, but this laid-back hostelry has its own distinct character.
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