Hunters Lodge - Child-friendly pub with a playground, on the A35 between Lyme Regis and Axminster
At the start of the school summer holidays I had a vision that I would work my way around the beer gardens of the south west, boldly testing them out for child-friendliness in the name of the blog, and also doing a fair amount of basking in the sunshine with a cold drink in hand.
Unfortunately, the weather hasn’t quite been on our side for the last couple of weeks, and, well, to be honest, pub lunches can tot up so I’ve been mostly touring the region’s playgrounds with a homemade picnic and a flask instead. (I know how to live..!)
However, today we were in the mood for a filling pub lunch as one of the girls had had a bad night’s sleep, so we met with a friend and her little boy at a pub just off the A35 at the junction for Lyme Regis called The Hunters Lodge Inn.
The sun was shining so we sat in the expansive beer garden, which has a smart decking area (dogs on leads welcome on the deck but not on the grass), and a large open play area with swings, a wendy house, see-saw, slide and climbing frame as well as a football goal and some wheelie tractors and go karts. The climbing frame is a bit of a relic but the children loved it so I guess ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’
The children were well entertained running around the enclosed garden, riding the little tractors down the verge, and somehow managing to get spectacularly muddy even on a dry August day, which I take as a sure sign of enjoyment!
Hunters Lodge is a child-friendly pub both indoors and out. Inside, there’s an annexe to one side of the pub which is very much family friendly with a little kids’ nook, where you’ll find a selection of toys, family board games and books, as well as a pool table. We were given paper and a pot of crayons at the bar to further entertain the children which is always appreciated – reading up on their website it’s clear that the management have considered what is important to customers visiting with young children which goes a long way to making the experience of eating out with kids easier.
The pub has recently opened a new garden bar/cabin, which wasn’t open today but when it is it serves the garden with alfresco food and drink – ideal on warm summer days and evenings to save you navigating through the maze that is the back of the pub.
Being honest, I found the kids menu to be on the pricier side at £7.95, however each child's meal comes with a tub of Lovingtons Ice Cream. My girls went for pizza and chips (obviously) and the pizza was cat-shaped complete with celery eyes which was a nice touch.
My friend and I shared a sandwich (again, I think this was £7.95 from the main lunch menu) which was very tasty and nicely presented but not a huge doorstep wedge so ideal for lighter appetites. I am told the main cooked options are humongous in portion, which I do like to see in a pub, because I am greedy!
There’s a baby changing unit in the ladies’ loo, and buggies can access all areas with a little help over the various steps. There’s ample parking right next to the pub (rare for eateries in the area!) and it’s just an 8-or-so minute drive from the seaside resort of Lyme Regis.
All in all a pleasant pub and beer garden in a convenient position just off the main road, ideal for those with younger children who need a little space to get down from the table inside or out, or for teens and pre-teens who enjoy a game of pool.