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Patrick’s Pub Trawls: The Lamb Inn, Sandford

PUBLISHED: 09:21 04 September 2014 | UPDATED: 09:21 04 September 2014

A classic old village pub with low-slung ceilings

A classic old village pub with low-slung ceilings


In his regular series of columns for Devon Life, PATRICK McCAIG of The Otter Brewery takes us on a trawl of some of his favourite pubs.

The details

Real ales:

Lushingtons, Skinner’s Brewery

Porthleven, Skinner’s Brewery

Otter Bitter, Otter Brewery

Local ciders:

Devon Mist, Sandford Orchards

Shaky Bridge, Sandford Orchards

The Lamb Inn, Sandford

Sometimes a day in the life of a drayman at Otter Brewery poses a challenge, especially when the snow comes in over Dartmoor and carpets the outer reaches of Mid Devon. This is a time when our professionals raise their game and Head Brewers (Dad) should really be savouring the warmth of their mash tuns, rather than trying to help our intrepid drivers in their duty.

I am still bitter (as in Otter) that I, a former driver, took the call from Dad saying that he had made it to The Lamb Inn at Sandford but unfortunately his truck hadn’t. A slight altercation with a flint wall at the bottom corner of Jockey Hill was where this dray met its maker.

Apparently he and his partner in crime Vic (our maintenance man) had appeared at the bar like two snow-blind Yetis seeking sanctuary and warmth after their yomp into nearby Sandford. They were welcomed at The Lamb with open arms and dispatched to the roaring fireplace to defrost. A quick sharpener (some form of anti-freeze) and a skim through the mouth-watering menu took our now soggy pseudo drayman into a state of utopia. They were going nowhere! Not only did I deliver their beer, I also dug them out and dropped them home.

The Lamb Inn, SandfordThe Lamb Inn, Sandford

I’m not bitter now because this event fuelled my desire to see what all the excitement was about. I took my Devon Life column critics (Mum and my wife Tor) to the Lamb for lunch on a glorious, sunny day.

Welcomed at the bar by a very relaxed Mark Hildyard, we instantly felt at home or even, on holiday. I later learned his laid back nature and look (board shorts and a T-shirt) emanated from a very recent holiday in Cannes. I suppose if you want to create a vibe, you have to live it.

And live it we did. The mouth-watering menu was suitably fit for a summer feast. We covered most quarters of this challenge and its overall quality demonstrated that Mark’s team ensured the Lamb catered for kings as well as the skittle teams. For me the outstanding highlight was the wood pigeon wrapped in an onion and bacon croustillant, tied together with a potato string, although the homemade bread also deserves a mention.

Tucked away nicely at the back is a well-established, split two level garden (complete with outside bar) that calls out like a siren for a long lazy Sunday afternoon session. It was nice as well to see another family brewer on the bar, this time in the form of Skinners, transporting a little of their Cornish vibe to inland Devon.

Suitable interior decoration at The Lamb Inn, SandfordSuitable interior decoration at The Lamb Inn, Sandford

As we loaded back into the car, brewery-bound and contented, Mum chipped in with the observation that when landlords get their offering and formula so right, this really is the best industry in the world to be a part of.


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