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The Water Witch, Lancaster

Aldcliffe Road
Phone: 0152463828

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Reviews (Current Rating Average: of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

Just a quick pint, then I'm off left this review about The Water Witch

Pleasant canal-side location with a good number of wooden tables beside the towpath. With the weather good, and restrictions inside due to the coronavirus, I didn't get a proper look around, but the semi-traditional interior seemed to suit the heritage building. I also didn't get to see the handpumps, but I was assured that that the five names reeled off were reasonably local, and my Tiffin Gold from Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery (£3.75) certainly hadn't needed to travel too far.

On 28th September 2020 - rating: 7
[User has posted 6198 recommendations about 6198 pubs]

Will Larter left this review about The Water Witch

Still has nine hand pumps (see previous reviews - I was last here just over five years ago), but at the time of my latest visit two of these had ciders available, with just four real ales. Two were from local Cross Bay, with the others still local-ish but further away. If I visited pubs for food, as most of the customers I saw were doing, I would probably like it more than I do as a beer drinker. Having said that, my Hawkshead Winter Red was in good condition, and I didn't feel totally out of place, so it is good enough for another visit some time. I still prefer the White Cross, though, just a brief stroll along the towpath.

On 17th February 2020 - rating: 6
[User has posted 2643 recommendations about 2492 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Brainy Pool left this review about The Water Witch

remains a pretty insufferable place, especially in summer when the yuppies of Lancaster descend here en masse. the food takes priority most of the time and it's all just a bit sterile and pretentious. and overpriced.

On 10th August 2018 - rating: 4
[User has posted 772 recommendations about 753 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Al Bundy left this review about The Water Witch

A nice canal side pub. It has 9 real ales pumps that had 5 on and 4 "available soon". A long, thin bar and an outside area. Pleasant and enjoyable.

On 4th March 2015 - rating: 9
[User has posted 3389 recommendations about 3303 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Will Larter left this review about The Water Witch

The Water Witch can be accessed from either side of the canal: a footpath leads down from the main road near the infirmary entrance, and there's a footbridge from the opposite bank which is accessible from Aldcliffe Road and from the mooring basin. I remember coming here before it was a pub, as we used to hire punts from the owner who livied in a canal boat moored alongside. I organised a race from Galgate to here, which we finished off with a keg of beer set up in one of the buildings that now make up this pub. Now there are eight hand pumps, with seven beers available at the time of my recent visit. Two were from Kirkby Lonsdale, two from Black Jack and one each from Titanic, York and York's Off The Wall experimental arm. There's a 30p per pint discount for Camra members, but this applies to whole pints only, and I was on halves because of my bike. This is a food-led pub, with not much of an atmosphere to it, partly because it's for diners more than drinkers, partly because of its long, thin shape. Maybe if I'd stayed longer it would have grown on me.

Date of visit: 13th December 2014

On 13th February 2015 - rating: 6
[User has posted 2643 recommendations about 2492 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

John Bonser left this review about The Water Witch

On the towpath of the Lancaster Canal that runs closely by the centre of the city is The Water Witch, a well known pub that has won multiple awards for both its beer and food offerings in recent years.

Previously being stables housing horses that pulled barges along the canal, the premises only became a pub in 1978. It’s a long, narrow stone built building running parallel alongside the canal bank. In the early nineneenth century, a company called Water Witch Waterbuses provided a canal service between Kendall and Preston – hence the pub name. Even today, cruises may be taken to/from Carnforth and the Lune Aqueduct from a waterbus terminus close by on the opposite bank.

As we approach the pub, the pub sign greets us with the welcome “award winning canalside pub, quality homecooked food, waterfront patio, large selection of cask ales”.

The interior features exposed sandstone walls, stone paved floors, a long wood panelled light pine bar counter and a modern, contemporary style interior that is surprisingly devoid of character and items of specific interest. For instance, there’s no old photos of the canal or the premises in their former capacity, nor are we told why the pub is so called. The counter runs alongside the back wall, with several further areas either side. To the left of the main entrance, an upstairs area (and the ground floor area immediately below it) mainly cater for diners, but the food emphasis is quickly apparent throughout the pub.

There’s a number of picnic tables outside at the front on the cobbled towpath area from where, on my mid – September visit, I was able to watch the efforts of a man fishing in front of the student flats on the opposite bank, despite several prominent “No Fishing” signs.

By the entrance outside, a sandwich board told us that, during August / September, the following guest breweries would feature at some stage, with no less than 3 beers on from one of them at any time – Milk Street Brewery, Banks and Taylor, Red Squirrel, Blue Bees, Bridestone. However, on my visit, we only had 4 beers on in total – York Guzzler ( presumably because it’s a Mitchells of Lancaster owned pub ), Black Sheep, Old School Brewery Detention Bitter and one beer only from Red Squirrel – London Porter. This was something of a disappointment. The pub is a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular and several award certificates are displayed just inside the entrance.

My pint of York Guzzler ( £ 2.80p after the prominently advertised 30p CAMRA discount had been somewhat grudgingly applied ) was reasonable, but the food emphasis is all too apparent, with bar staff seemingly under instructions to ask “ is that all?” to those not ordering food when being served.

On a reasonably warm September lunchtime, it was pleasant sitting outside in the sun overlooking the canal, but I did cut short the length of my planned visit.

I only visit pubs nowadays when I’ve done my research (reading other reviews, web sites, pub/ beer guides etc ) and, on the basis of which, will be expecting an enjoyable and impressive visit. In this case, I had considered beforehand that there was a sporting chance that I’d be scoring this pub a 9 out of 10. Perhaps, I just came in on a bad day – and I’d probably give it another go next time in Lancaster – but it’s only getting a 7 from me.

On 6th October 2014 - rating: 7
[User has posted 560 recommendations about 560 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

ROB Camra left this review about The Water Witch

A great canalside pub, originally converted from a stables used for the canal company horses. Well described by others below. The outside seating area will be great in summer and a few hardy souls were braving it on our visit. 8 beers available on our visit and as we decided to eat here I managed 3 of them. All were in very good condition. The left hand area is a dining room, but you can eat throughout the pub. We went for their homemade burgers and chips which had been recommended to us by friends. They were right as well, the burgers were excellent. I can't see me ever visiting Lancaster and not having a beer in here. It's a very good pub.

On 10th June 2014 - rating: 8
[User has posted 2866 recommendations about 2786 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Real Ale Ray left this review about The Water Witch

I can see Bucking Fastard and his shipmates moored up here for a good few hours. Taking in the White Cross also, which is only a few minutes further along the canal - two gems along a short stretch of water. For us landlocked ale lovers, the pub is accessible across the nearby canal bridge.
The pub is long and narrow, which is no surprise. The walls were undressed sandstone blocks, with a stone paved floor. The bar is situated on the right of entry, where you see their 14 highly polished handpumps. The left side of the pub was mostly set out for dining, there was also a small mezzanine here. There were 9 ales to choose from on our visit, up to 14 when trade picks up.
We went for the Coniston Bluebird and the Old School Brewery Textbook.

On 23rd February 2014 - rating: 9
[User has posted 2976 recommendations about 2976 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Danny O'Revey left this review about The Waterwitch

Old canalside building refurbished in a modern clean way and there are benches on the tow path.

Well worth finding with 6 good real ales.

On 19th August 2013 - rating: 8
[User has posted 1281 recommendations about 1258 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Quinno _ left this review about Water Witch

A long-overdue re-visit at Christmas. Now owned by Mitchells though internally little has changed. Plenty of ales available but little variation within a theme of mid-range bitters, even my York Christmas Cauldron was little more than a light brown beer. Mrs Quinno sampled an enjoyable cheese board. Perhaps I caught it at a bad time but really over Xmas a couple of dark or 'proper' seasonal ales isn't too much to ask?

February 2008
An absolute must-visit, a pretty canalside freehouse serving eleven (yup) handpumps with the condition of each of the six I tried in good nick, along with a huge selection of foreign bottled beers and vodkas (look out for the Porter by the Anchor Brewery in San Francisco, it is an absolute corker for £3.50). Prices are a little on the expensive side for Lancaster but given what's on offer I think it's acceptable. The Water Witch was the most famous of the passenger ‘packet boats’ which once plied the Lancaster Canal and apparently this place was converted in the late 70’s from an old stable block, though you can only spot this in subtle ways, like the backlit glass at the bar. The interior is long and narrow with exposed masonry walling and stone flooring. Popular in summer due to the seating outside, it also attracts a fair number of students with a halls on residence located over the other side of the canal. The food is well renowned though I’ve yet to try any. Highly recommended if visiting the area.

On 28th December 2011 - rating: 8
[User has posted 3997 recommendations about 3985 pubs]

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