Where is the highest pub in Scotland?

You may know where the most remote bar in Scotland is, while the title for the oldest remains disputed, but do you know where the highest pub in the country is?

Published 15th Feb 2018
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

Contrary to popular belief, you won't find it in the Highlands - or even the islands for that matter - in fact you'll find it south of Glasgow in a small village in Dumfries and Galloway named Wanlockhead.

The village sits at the head of the Mennock Pass, which forms part of the Southern Uplands and lies approximately 1,531 feet above sea level.

Robert Burns visited there in the winter of 1789-90 and even wrote his poem Pegasus at Wanlockhead there.

A major stop on the Southern Upland Way, gold (some of the world's purest) mined in the area was reportedly used to make the Scottish crown.

Highest pub in Scotland

Picture: A.M.Hurrell\Wikimedia

The highest pub in Scotland

The village pub, the Wanlockhead Inn, opened in 2003 taking the crown as Scotland's highest pub from the previous holder, the Walk Inn, another drinking den in the village, which actually sat slightly higher than the Wanlockhead, but closed in the late 90s.

A family-run venture, the bar is owned by the McKelvey family, with father James and son Dean pulling the pints for residents and visitors to the area alike.

highest pub in Scotland

Picture: Billy McCrorie\Geograph

Explaining the pub's popularity, Dean said: "Tourists come and visit us to say they have been in Scotland's highest pub and had a pint. The village museum (of Lead Mining) gets 10,000 to 15,000 visitors a year and most of them also come to the pub for a drink and a meal."

Open every day except Monday, the bar serves drinks until 10 or 11pm (depending on footfall) on weekdays and is open until midnight on Sunday and 1am on Friday and Saturday.

Dean stated that the pub is not only popular with locals and tourists alike but also the walkers on the Southern Upland Way who usually stop in to refuel on their journey.

A quick trawl of Trip Advisor confirms that the inn is held in high regard by many of those who have visited with one user describing it as not only Scotland's highest but also "its friendliest".

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The inn also has its own micro-brewery, the Lola Rose brewery - named after Dean's daughter - which makes beers (both cask and bottle) for the pub and also some of the other bars in neighboring towns and villages.

highest pub in Scotland

Beer with altitude. Picture: Lola Rose Brewery

You'll usually find one of Dean's beers on the taps, with the red and gold ale particularly popular with guests and a newer stout also now on offer.

With a focus on Scottish beers, Dean confirmed they also sell whisky and the usual gamut of spirits, with food served 12pm until 8pm.

For entertainment, there's regular events throughout the year, a pool table and live music from local acts.

He added: "We also have some Glamping Pods on the grounds should anyone need them, we've found some people seem to think the altitude means the alcohol hits them harder than they were expecting - but I'm not convinced!"

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Surprisingly, the Wanlockhead Inn is not the highest in the UK, that accolade goes to the now famous Tan Hill Inn, which featured in Waitrose's 2017 Christmas ad and is found at 1,730 feet above sea level in North Yorkshire.

• READ MORE: 5 of the oldest pubs in Scotland

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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