The Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel was originally a farm and an Inn. In the rate book of 1885, it was named as Middlefell Inn and run by John Bennett, who was a well-known guide for tourists. It has been extended a number of times, the original piece being the middle portion; another piece was added later and the stables at the Northeast end were made into a dining room. The shippon, on the other end, was made into a bar and the cow stalls are still there, intact.
These were the days of the horse-drawn ‘charas’ bringing visitors from Little Langdale over Blea Tarn Pass; they would stop at the top and blow their horn, a signal to get lunch or tea ready – the number of blasts informed the staff of the number of passengers requiring the meal!
The Hotel was sold to Professor G.M. Trevelyan in the early 1900’s for £4,100, he promptly gave it to the National Trust. This was the first property the Trust owned in Langdale. The Hotel was run as a hotel and farm up to 1949, when the shippon was converted into the Climber’s Bar.
All the climbing clubs in the country at this stage came to the Old Hotel for their club dinners which meant that many of the best British climbers who had taken part in the Everest and other Himalayan expeditions stayed at the hotel including Sir John Hunt, Mike Westmacott, Alf Gregory, Tom Bourdillon, Sir Charles Evans, Neil Mather, and George Band.
The younger up-and-coming climbers frequented the Climber’s Bar – Joe Brown, Don Whillans, Ian MacNaught-Davis, and Dennis Davis. In the evenings they often had talks and slide shows – Chris Bonington and Ian Clough, after being the first British climbers to ascend the north face of the Eiger, tried out their lecture at the Old Hotel before giving the real thing in Keswick.