“ Address: Edisford Road / Waddington / Clitheroe BB7 3HU / Lancashire „
Whenever we visit my mother in Lancashire who now lives in a care home, we always take her out for at least one meal. Let's face it, however good a care home may be, the food usually leaves a lot to be desired. On the most recent trip, after a little run out into the countryside, we stopped off at the Lower Buck Inn in Waddington for a spot of lunch.
The Lower Buck has been dispensing hospitality since it was built in 1760. As you'll see from the photograph, it's built from the local limestone in a style which is traditional for this area of the North West. Once upon a time, in my disreputable youth, I used to visit the Lower Buck on a regular basis because it was in a remote location and the landlady was not averse to serving underage drinkers! It was run by a brother and sister, the Simpsons, who turned a blind eye not only to those of us who hadn't yet reached a legal drinking age but also to the finer points of cleanliness. Those days, and the Simpsons, are long gone and the Lower Buck is now a country pub which offers hearty meals, both lunches and evening meals, as well as having a fine stock of ales. The current owners have been running the Inn since 2005 and during that time have built up a reputation for offering excellent food made from local produce and drink supplied by local breweries.
How to find the Lower Buck
The Ribble Valley in Lancashire is one of those largely overlooked areas of England. Most people are heading for the Lake District just to the north or to the Yorkshire Dales. If you aren't local, Waddington may seem slightly off the beaten track but nevertheless is a small, picturesque and thriving village a couple of miles from Clitheroe. I should add here that although Waddington has a Lancashire postal address these days, it's actually on the other side of the River Ribble from Clitheroe putting it firmly into the West Riding of Yorkshire (but I won't hold that against it.) To get there, take the B6478 from Clitheroe and once in Waddington follow the road through the village. Where the road crosses the stream, turn hard left up Belle Vue Lane and past St Helen's Church on your left. The Lower Buck is situated just behind the church on Edisford Road.
Facilities and ambience
There is some parking available on the cobbled area to the front of the pub but a more substantial car park with plenty of spaces is available to the rear. The main entrance has a raised, fairly steep step, but access for wheelchair users is available through the rear entrance. My mother, who is now quite disabled and uses a walking stick can just about manage the step with a bit of extra help.
The inside of the pub is very traditional with flagstone floors, dark wood fittings and open fires and there are several rooms to choose from, two of which are served by the bar, and they all have open fires which certainly gives the place a cheery and welcoming feel, especially on wet days of which there are many in this part of the world. There are also dining rooms on the upper floor, accessed by a staircase and there's a beer garden and on those rare sunny days, you can opt to eat outside.
There isn't any of that horrible background music here, just the low hum of conversations and the crackling of a roaring fire. The landlord is pleasant and friendly and like most people in the north of the country is happy to chat.
The toilets on the ground floor are suitable for disabled or able bodied customers and the facilities are well appointed and clean. I can only comment on the women's toilets but must assume that the men's facilities are as good. My brother, who was with us, told me they were fine.
We chose the smaller of the ground floor dining rooms which only has four tables and, on this occasion, there was only our party and one other there.
This isn't a gastro pub so the food on offer isn't fancy but is very substantial and you certainly won't leave feeling that you haven't had enough to eat. This is farming country so the standard menu offers a good choice of meaty meals as well as several fish dishes and there are a few vegetarian options, too, though these are fairly standard. On the day we visited one of the vegetarian meals on offer was Cheese and Onion Pie (a north country favourite) which someone at the next table was eating and it looked and smelled delicious.
As well as the standard menu, there are daily specials and a children's menu and the pub is happy to provide smaller portions from the main menu also. The food on offer ranges from snack-style meals such as Potted Morecambe Bay Shrimps and sandwiches up to very substantial pies and meat and fish dishes. On Sundays there is the addition of the traditional roast dinner.
My brother opted for Steak, Mushroom and Guiness Pie and my mother and myself had fish dishes. I'm a non-meat eater but the pie looked and smelled great with a light and crispy pastry topping and lots of chunky pieces of meat in a plentiful supply of thick gravy. It was served with carrots and peas and there was a choice of potatoes, chips, roasted or mash. My Mother had Fish (haddock) and Chips served with garden peas, which again was superb. The batter was a tempura which was light and crisp and the fish moist and beautifully cooked. The chips were proper ones by which I mean they were twice cooked, crisp and golden. I opted for the Seafood Linguine which was tasty and aromatic though I wished afterwards I'd also gone for the Fish and Chips!
By the time we'd eaten our substantial main courses, we were all too full for a pudding, especially as most of these were also of the rather hearty crumbles, pies and sponge pudding varieties, although there was a choice of ice cream also available.
The bill, including the drinks, a beer and two soft drinks, came to just over £40 for the three of us.
It's also worth mentioning that we were left to enjoy our meals in peace and at our leisure and only approached once by the landlord to find out whether everything was to our satisfaction. I much prefer this sort of laid back service rather than have someone forever hovering nearby. It certainly added to our enjoyment of the meal.
This is a free house and serves several beers from local breweries including from the local micro brewery, The Bowland Beer Company based at Bashall just outside Clitheroe. I didn't try the beer but my brother had a pint of Hen Harrier which he declared excellent ale. The pub also carries several fine wines supplied by Byrne & Co from Clitheroe, a wine merchant with a national reputation.
For anyone visiting the Ribble Valley (and it's well worth a visit if you enjoy beautiful, unspoilt countryside surrounded by dramatic moorland) I would highly recommend visiting the Lower Buck. The food is substantial, well cooked and presented and very reasonably priced. There is an excellent choice of drinks to accompany any meal and the pub's ambience is warm and welcoming and the hospitality friendly and sincere. I can guarantee you'll have an enjoyable dining experience and it's one you'll want to repeat.
The Lower Buck Inn
Tel: 01200 423342