Pub Reviews

Published on February 5th, 2014 | by Alastair Gilmour


The Cross Keys

A positive attitude and an emphasis on the customer

Esh is as rural as County Durham gets – simply breathe in the farmyard aroma. It’s rather stimulating.

The Cross Keys in the village is a very tidy and welcoming pub, divided into separate dining room and bar area. With its low ceilings, sturdy pillars and hefty beams it’s not difficult to grasp that there’s been a pub here since the 14th century which is thought to have been visited by Edward I.

After a few years in the doldrums it is obviously now in safe hands with its positive attitude and an emphasis on the customer. Much extended over the years – rough stone pillars remain from what were once exterior walls – it retains a country pub ambience. The bar area’s counter is a very attractive combination of timber and dressed stone.

The Beer

Terrific choice and flavour range reaching across Border Rampart, Ringwood Boondoggle, Wylam Red Kite and Haxon Wit (keg), Black Sheep Bitter, and a selection of bottled world beers. They’re well looked after and change regularly so there’s enough there to satisfy the most demanding of palates.

The food

A menu that promises local sourcing and home preparation. Sunday lunches are popular with regulars. Bar snacks include local cheeses while classic beer battered fish and chips is an everyday stalwart. The à la carte menu features Jack Daniels BBQ glazed pork ribs and sizzling seafood jambalaya.

Where is it? Esh is a long, narrow strip of a village on top of the hill above Langley Park – between Lanchester and Durham. Follow the signs for Esh and Quebec from the A691. The views across the valley are stunning – farmland, woodland, age-old settlements and strangely beguiling wind turbines.


Paul and Marie Young. The Cross Keys, Front Street, Esh, County Durham DH7 9QR, tel 0191 373 1279

About the Author

Alastair Gilmour

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