Tuesday 6th August 2013
I was with fellow drinker Russell on this one pub visit to South Lakeland. We were spending the night in Lancaster and decided first to take a local train journey out in to the country for a pint or two. Cark looked to be a good choice and that's the way it proved to be. The Engine Inn is about five minutes stroll from Cark & Cartmel station. Note the different name for the station compared to the village. This is because Cartmel is a separate entity. That village boasts four pubs, a small brewery that it is possible to visit, and a racecourse. Plenty of reasons to go there!
For an old pub in an old village I am surprised that there is so little information on its history. The pub itself proclaims itself to be 17th Century. I think that is a step too far, although there might have been an inn on the site way back then. A few of the village's houses and bridges have acquired listed status, but not the pub. Completely aside from this, I noticed the station footbridge was listed but not the handsome station house, constructed by the Furness Railway in 1857, strange!
The pub's building provides few clues, but the inside layout is the most revealing as it is a series of small rooms off what was once a central corridor. Most of these have been subsequently opened up and it feels like the building has been added to over the years.
On entering there are separate areas on left and right. The bar is about midway down the pub on the left side. There is a room allocated to dining beyond this.
Please don't get the wrong impression about this pub, as it certainly does have a lot of space allocated for meals because of its location in a tourist area, but the drinker is definitely not neglected.
The pub is situated in the middle of the village right alongside the fast-flowing River Eea alongside the main bridge. There are some garden tables on the grassy areas outside. You might have thought that as the pub is quite close to the railway; its name might have derived from that source, but no. The Engine is said to be a Fire Engine; possibly, but I think it is a Traction Engine, whether for road or for farming use, I don't know. The nicely-painted sign shows the agricultural version. Confirmation would be welcome.
When we visited there was a reasonable beer selection that had two from South Lakeland. They were: Sharp's (Rock, Cornwall) Doom Bar (4.0%); Copper Dragon (Skipton, North Yorks) Copper Pippin (3.9%); Healey's Brewery (Wellington Inn, Loppergate, Cumbria) Blonde (4.3%) and Unsworth's Yard Brewery (Cartmel, Cumbria) Pride of Cartmel 1643 The Cromwell Door (3.9%). I think the latter is the longest beer name I have yet to come across. Russell and I each had one of the two local offerings and for the next pint, had the other. Our consensus was that they were both extremely good beers.
Weston's (Much Marcle, Herefordshire) Traditional Scrumpy (6.0%) was also on hand pump. Also of interest is that they sell two local gins: Spirit of the Lakes Bedrock Gin from near Keswick (not Bedrock) and Langton's No 1 from Skiddaw. Both companies make much of the pure water used to distil their gins and they form part of the new wave of distillers that are entering the spirits market in this country.
The pub is a true inn and has five double letting rooms. It is well worth a visit at any time and would make a good base to stay and enjoy the beery and scenic interests of Southern Lakeland.
The Engine Inn, Station Road, Cark-in-Cartmel, Cumbria. LA11 7NZ. Tel: 01539 558341
Open: Monday-Saturday: 11.30-01.00. Sunday: 12.00-01.00
Kitchen: Monday-Thursday 12.00-14.30; 17.00-20.30; Friday 12.00-14.30, 18.00-21.00; Saturday 12.00-21.00; Sunday 12.00-19.30
From the station there are two ways to get to the pub: a) If arriving from the Barrow direction, leave the station on that side and turn left. You will soon arrive at Station Road, turn right and you will see the pub on the opposite side. b) If arriving from the Preston or Lancaster directions leave the station on that side, walk up to Station Road, turn right,
cross over the railway and follow same directions as a).
Train operator is Trans-Pennine Express with through trains from Manchester, Preston
and Lancaster. There are some trains provided by Northern that come from Lancaster (sometimes Preston or Morecambe) on the way to Barrow.