A popular village gastropub in Derbyshire’s Peak District has made the top 20 of a prestigious list ranking the country’s best establishments. The much-loved Pack Horse, in Hayfield, has landed at number 18 on the Estrella Dam Top 50 Gastropubs list for 2023.
The good news follows the pub being included on a list of the cosiest pubs to enjoy a winter lunch in the UK by The Good Food Guide. The venue, which has become popular for its seasonal, contemporary food, was also once again named in the Michelin Guide for 2023, maintaining its status alongside 10 other county venues on the list.
The Market Street pub has been run by self-taught chef Luke Payne and partner Emma Daniels since September 2016, and has been earning rave reviews for several years. Luke said he couldn’t believe they had made it onto the gastropubs list after what has been a “challenging” time for the industry.
He said: “I genuinely didn’t believe we would make it. Thank you all so much. I can’t express how challenging this year has been – it’s been impossible to take stock until now. Thank you, we are so honoured to be among our mentors, peers and friends.”
Based in the centre of Hayfield, a village at the base of Kinder Scout, the pub offers a variety of “posh” nibbles as well as a choice between a two- or three-course set menu served Thursday to Sunday. Perfectly placed for a meal after a walk in the Peak District, the pub’s website offers a couple of useful route guides for anyone looking to start or finish a hike at The Pack Horse.
It is led by an ethos of sustainability and seasonality, with food that changes through the seasons and offers “a unique snapshot of the British food calendar”. It works with a range of local suppliers including a butcher just four miles away, a fishmonger who sources produce from the North Sea and a vegetable supplier that sources only the best from British growers.
In November 2021, the Pack Horse was hailed as “pretty much pub perfection” in a rave review by a national restaurant critic. The pub wowed The Times’ reviewer, Marina O’Loughlin, who praised its stunning High Peak location and its “elevated and unexpected” take on pub grub.
After singing the pub’s praises for its “ambitious” cuisine, she added: “None of this is to say that the Pack Horse has lost sight of what the perfect village pub should be. There are still chips on onion rings; divine, both: crisp, golden and greaseless.”
While the pub’s Michelin Guide review reads: “Real ales and weekly quiz nights help this traditional stone pub to remain a true village local. Hearty pub dishes come with a refined edge and the Manchester (Scotch) Egg has become something of a signature. Characterful open fires mix with warm, contemporary décor, and it’s run by a friendly team.”
It is not to be confused with The Packhorse Inn, in Crowdecote, between Hartington and Buxton, or The Packhorse Inn, in Little Longstone, near Bakewell, although these other Peak District pubs are also both highly regarded.
Also ranked on the Estrella Dam Top 50 Gastropubs list for 2023 is The Duncombe Arms, near Ashbourne. The 19th-century pub, which placed 41st on the list, prides itself on serving classic and modern British food of fine-dining quality in warm and relaxed surroundings.
It is based in the rural village of Ellastone, on the Staffordshire side of the River Dove, the pub is only a short trip away from the Peak District making for some amazing countryside views surrounding the pub.
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