The pub time warp of Keswick is due a shake-up


BACK in the merry month of May I spent a Saturday handing over energy bars and bananas to exhausted fell runners in Rosthwaite and Catbells, while working at the Keswick Mountain Festival.

Saturday was an early start – 6:30am – so I travelled there the night before having arranged to camp near to Crow Park, where the festival was being held, and I’d planned to stay until Sunday morning when I was hoping to walk up Grisedale Pike.

Normally when I’m in Keswick it’s after a day on the fells, and I’m usually exhausted and ready for a drink and some food; I’ve never really had time to have a proper look at what the town has to offer – other than its many outdoors shops.

What I soon realised is that the pubs are all very samey; mostly Jennings with a smattering of Thwaites, and all in a bit of a time warp. It seems the current trend for independent pubs and bars offering craft beer from a range of breweries along with a contemporary menu has not arrived in Keswick; although it’s not just Keswick, Ambleside is the same. What’s going on, or rather not going on?

I guess that if you’re a pub in a tourist hotspot – and what could be hotter than the Lakes? – then you don’t really have to try too hard; but that’s cynical because you don’t need to travel too far out of Keswick or Ambleside to find great pubs offering craft beer from a range of breweries along with, yes, a contemporary menu.

Why is there such a difference between these towns and the surrounding villages?

And then the other day Bar eS (no, I don’t understand it either) started following me on Twitter, so I had a look at their website, which states: “With its rustic interior, comfy sofas and unique back room ‘hub’, BAR eS provides drinks, food and music in a funky, relaxed atmosphere. Select a beer from the impressive range and enjoy home-made tapas, cooked with the freshest ingredients.”

Things appear to be looking up in Keswick.

And being a social media consultant I obviously had to venture to their Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus (G+) pages; and they’re using the first two really well with lots of images and interaction, and a friendly tone of voice.

However, there’s very little happening with their Google Plus page; they made a start on it a couple of months back but there’s been nothing since, and this doesn’t surprise me because very few businesses or people seem to know or care about it.

Now is not the time to discuss the pros and cons of G+ though, there’s more important stuff such as when can I next get to Keswick to pay a visit to Bar eS (after a walk in the fells, of course).

* Apologies to any craft beer places in Keswick or Ambleside that I’m unaware of; track me down @richardhamer and I might visit you.

And if any bars or restaurants in the Lake District want help with their social media, get in touch with me on 07906 686596 or email me.

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