The Pack Horse Affetside
Set in the picturesque village of Affetside on the old Roman road Watling Street, the Pack Horse dates back in one form or another to 1442! Whilst the current building that sits on the site itself isn’t quite that old, it is still an old building with plenty of history. There is an Affetside history website where you can read more here.
From the journey down Watling Street surrounded by fields and farms, it is clear you are going to be eating and drinking in a lovely country pub. The views from the outside terrace and the conservatory dining room are stunning.
We were very lucky when we visited last as it had been snowing, this adds even more to how lovely the pub looks and the added benefit when you are sat next to one of the four open fires looking out at the snow. When it does snow, Affetside and the Pack Horse does get a fair bit. Thanks to the wind it is quite common to see the front door completely covered by a mountain of snow. There are various pictures on the walls of the pub depicting this.
The bar area is a great place to relax with a drink or two, it has comfy chairs, an open fire and the atmosphere is chilled and relaxed. You can dine in this area, but you have to order your food and drink at the bar when sitting here. Sunday afternoons are particularly busy in the bar, but the atmosphere is great, especially on a winters day with people warming up with their dogs by their side.
By contrast, on a summers day, the bar has people queuing for a refreshing glass of prosecco or a nice cold pint. The seating area is empty as everyone is taking advantage of the decked seating terrace outside, admiring the stunning views of the surrounding fields and hillsides whilst sipping their drink.
The conservatory area is one of the more recent additions to the Pack Horse. It is bright and airy and gives stunning views from the rear. It is a very popular place to dine and so if you want a spot in there make sure you book in advance. It has fantastic views by day and is very bright, by night it has a fantastic ambience whilst looking out to the dark hillsides.
The conservatory has its own bar but table service is provided for food and drink.
As you step into the restaurant area of the Pack Horse you feel a sudden warmth, due to the age of the building, it is dark with low ceilings, wooden beams and low lighting levels. This coupled with the open fires that are constantly roaring away in the Winter months, makes you feel very warm and cosy and it, in my opinion, the place I most want to be.
Whether you are calling in for a drink and a seat by the fire or you are wanting a 3-course meal, this is my favourite spot. The chairs aren’t uniform and don’t match, but that’s nice, it adds to the character of the place.
I prefer the conservatory in the summer months and the restaurant in the Winter. We have spent Christmas Eve for the past few years here sat by the open fire, it’s idyllic.
What makes the Pack Horse stand out to me is it has the whole package. You see, I have been to plenty of pubs and restaurants where the food has been stunning, but if the customer service isn’t up to scratch and they don’t deal with problems correctly, I won’t return.
Some places have fantastic customer service and the food is average, I will visit them again just not in a huge rush.
The Pack Horse stands out from the crowd, it does both exceptionally well. From the person that greats you if you require a table, to the bar and waiting staff. If you are passing and they are full, they will go out of their way to do all they can to try to accommodate you. They are never in a rush with you and have plenty of time to talk and advise you on food.
One negative experience I had, was a cheese and onion pie that was cold when it arrived. I don’t expect perfection, anywhere can make mistakes at busy times. But, it was the way they dealt with the issue, they apologised profusely, replaced the entire meal and didn’t charge for the meal. This was all done without being prompted, there was no need to complain, they just took care of everything. By contrast, I have been to other restaurants with issues far worse that you have had to explain customer service to them in great detail in order to get a lesser result.
Obviously, this is the main event, this is the bit that matters. I sometimes move sections around when I am reviewing somewhere as I think this is the bit people want to know most. But the Pack Horse is about more than food. It does food exceptionally well, but I wanted to try and give you an understanding of what makes it the full package and why you need to pay this place a visit.
I have sampled lots of items on the menu, which changes frequently to keep you on your toes. They do deals if you buy several starters together, this is a great way of trying new things. The selection on the appetizers, starters and sides will keep you deliberating for a while. If I had to recommend any one item though it would have to be the garlic bread with cheese. This comes served on a hot ciabatta and just melts in your mouth.
When it comes to mains they have a lot to offer, burgers, risotto, pasta dishes, plenty of options of fish and much more. The portion sizes whether we are talking starter, main or dessert are fantastic. The Pack Horse isn’t the cheapest place to dine, you could always opt for your local 2 for £10 pub if the price is your sticking point. But the prices are very reasonable and when you look at the portion size you think that even more. You will never leave hungry!
The desserts are fantastic, from the huge cheese board to the hot chocolate brownie. Be conservative when ordering your starter and main and make sure you leave room for one of these absolute delights.
I would highly recommend paying them a visit if you are passing, Bury, Bolton or any of the surrounding visits. In fact, make the journey, wherever you live, it’s worth the hour drive out for the amazing food and atmosphere.
You can book a table by ringing them on 01204 884 584.
You can find them at The Pack Horse, Watling Street, Affetside, Bury, BL8 3QY.