The Lake District is home to a secret pub…
A pub that appears pretty normal on the surface but, behind the real ales and the packets of monster munch, is actually a haven for a multitude of wild woodland animals; a sanctuary from the poachers that haunt the neighbourhood and somewhere the animals can get a decent meal when pickings are slim.
Of course I can’t actually tell you the name of this pub, or at least I can’t broadcast it here… it’s all very 007. I could tell you, but after getting sworn to secrecy when I stumbled across it by the single most intense, Mafiosi-esque (and probably inbred) people I have ever met, I’m not going to risk it.
What I can tell you though, is that it was the single strangest encounter I had with an animal in my life. And that includes the episode when my mother brought home a hedgehog with special needs.
Stood outside the pub getting some air I was just thinking how creepy The Lake District can get of a night with hardly any street lamps and virtually no noise – when the landlord crept past with a bucket and disappeared into the bushes next to me. The noises that followed of scampering, scuffling and squeaking we’re so intriguing so (clearly learning nothing from the ‘Fun Spot’ incident) I followed him.
I don’t know what I expected to see but it certainly wasn’t the hundreds* of wild badgers that stood before me eating chips and beans. The landlord wasn’t best pleased at my presence, but after a brief (but completely terrifying) interrogation in which I was 98% sure I was about to be ‘whacked’, I was handed a bucket and told to make myself useful by getting some more food from the kitchen.
Returning with the weirdest combination of food in my bucket; chips, baked beans, bacon, toffee sticky pudding etc, I sat on the cold, wet grass and fed the badgers.
It was completed surreal, I mean how many people have held out a chip, of all things, and a badger sauntered over and nibbled it out my fingers, before going back to get stuck into it’s apple pie and custard?
* This is a wild exaggeration. There was only about 20 – but still, that’s a lot of badgers to see sharing a full english breakfast…