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The Kirkstone Pass Inn, Ambleside, Cumbria


Kirkstone Pass Inn in Lake District, Cumbria, has a long and colourful history which lends a certain charm and personality to it. This old coaching Inn is believed to be connected to an ancient monastery dating back to the 15th century, and is reported to be the permanent residence of travellers who’ve long since been dead…

Throughout the Inn’s long history, it has had plenty of stories about spectres and apparitions. Quite a few stories of the supernatural have come from people working in the surrounding area and tourists visiting the Kirkstone pass. Some of the apparitions are believed to be the spirits of travellers who have met an unfortunate death whilst making their perilous journey.

One of the stories is that of Ruth Ray, who was on her way from Patterdale to see her sick father with her small child in tow. As so often happens in the area surrounding Ambleside, the weather unexpectedly took a turn for the worse and snow quickly fell, making it impossible to walk in any direction with certainty. When Ruth had not returned, her husband set out to look for her along the path she would have taken only to find her frozen and lifeless. The baby was wrapped up heavily and survived. To this day Ruth still haunts the Kirkstone Inn. It is thought she’s warning walkers of the weather and the dangers of the Kirkstone Pass.

There is the ghost of the young boy who was killed by a coach outside the building. It is reported that a picture of a 17th century coachman was captured while he was lurking in the bar. The ghost was apparently the great, great grandfather of the family who took the picture, and it’s said that the spirit followed the visiting family who took the picture home and is now living with them!

There are stories of a frightening grey lady and the ghost of a hiker who once worked at the inn, who is now believed to be the culprit behind some of the poltergeist activity at the inn. Another ghost is that of woman who was hanged nearby for the supposed murder of her young child. She apparently haunts the tree close by, which is where she met her end.

There is also the famous copy of the picture of the church in the nearby village of Troutbeck which still hangs on the wall of the Inn today. In the picture is Reverend Sewell who helped rebuilt the Inn in 1847. When you compare the original picture form the copy, you will see that only the copy has the figure of a man standing behind the Reverend.

Brief History

The building has records dating all the way back to 1496 A.D, and it is the highest inhabited building in Cumbria at 1500ft. It is also the third highest Inn in England. The Kirkstone Inn is close to the summit of the Kirstone pass. It was formerly a coaching house but it now caters primarily to tourists and travellers.

Near the top of Kirstone pass, one can see the Kirkstone Quarry. This is where rocks are extracted and architectural stones are produced. The Kirkstone Inn is named after the large stone standing just 500 metres away from it. The Kirk Stone has a distinctive shape and the word Kirk is Scottish for church. In the 1800’s the tall stone building was used as a coach house. During the 1950’s it was used as a garage and petrol pumps and a forecourt was added. The building has now been converted into a cottage inn.


Kirkstone Inn offers wonderful views of the Lake District to visitors. The area has such picturesque views that it has been immortalized in poem by William Wordsworth. The Inn offers a tranquil retreat to visitors who want time for reflection and quite conversations. The Inn has four en-suite rooms, three double rooms and one triple room. For budget travellers, there is the Budget bunkhouse, which can accommodate 12 people.

It also comes with central heating and hot shower. The Inn offers home cooked meals to guests. They offer local food made from the freshest ingredients at reasonable prices. The Inn’s home-made Steak and Ale Pie has won several awards. All the meals are cooked to the guest’s order. Kirkstone Inn also offers an impressive Vegetarian Menu and Bed and Breakfast accommodation option.


  • Tea and coffee-making facilities
  • DVD player + wide selection of DVD’s
  • Full English breakfast
  • Award winning food
  • Bags of character
  • Picturesque surroundings

Things to do

When you come to Kirkstone Inn, you can expect great food, picturesque views, the best beer and numerous outdoor activities. On your doorstep there are classic mountains including Red Screes, Helvellyn and Fairfield, which are all waiting to be climbed. You can get the best views on clear days. They are the same views that have inspired writers and artists alike, and are truly stunning. A little further afield you have all the activities that Lake Windermere and Ambleside have to offer.

You can visit the numerous villages/towns in the area, spending a day shopping and enjoying bites to eat in many of the local restaurants, or enjoy many of the museums, heritage sites, and art galleries the Lake District has to offer. There are also several golf courses close by, and if hiking and biking are something you’re looking to do then there’s no shortage of beautiful tracks you can follow.

Room Tariff

  • Bed and breakfast accommodations available from £36.00
  • Bunkhouse available from £9.50 ppprn. with showers charged at 20p for five minutes of hot water

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