Once the favorite pub of famous Gloucestershire writer Laurie Lee, The Woolpack in Slad is one of the county’s most well-known and beloved inns.

Perched on the side of one of Stroud’s five valleys, this historic inn has been pulling pints for hundreds of years and is pretty much everything you’d expect of a traditional pub.

Today it’s a sublime mix of old and new, with the traditional pub feel combined with a very contemporary menu that wouldn’t be out of place in a ‘fancy’ London restaurant.

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Inside is a main bar where regulars and visitors gather to sample a range of local ales, while to the rear is a second dining room with windows overlooking a bucolic English landscape.

The scene is recreated on the ceiling of the room in paint, apparently donated to the pub after being used on a film set. It covers the entire back room ceiling and is a sight to behold.



The Woolpack’s dining room with Slad’s painting on the ceiling

There are no frills in The Woolpack, but it still manages to bewitch and captivate. Outside, a vine-covered terrace clings to the hillside, while beside the road and opposite the village church where Laurie Lee is buried are other tables.

The pub is now owned by renowned artist Daniel Chadwick, born and bred in the valleys, known for his colorful and kinetic sculptures, who has worked to preserve the spirit and essence of the pub for over 20 years.

In the kitchen, chef Adam Glover, who has crafted a unique menu that pays homage to the local food Gloucestershire is famous for.

The poet and writer Lee, whose series of autobiographical books beginning with Cider with Rosie made him a household name, was a pub regular until the end of his life in 1997 and could often be found drinking a pint at one of the tables.

Glover’s menu is quite deconstructed, with dishes presented in a long list without titles, so it’s easy to order a few smaller dishes or one large, depending on your mood at the time.

Small appetizers included dishes of almonds or olives, bread and butter, smoked oysters or cod roe, and radishes. The radishes were just that – served with the leaves still attached and taking up the entire plate in an extravagant green packet.



Laurie Lee was an English poet, screenwriter and novelist born in Stroud in 1914. His best known work was Cider With Rosie which tells of his childhood in Gloucestershire.  It is part of a trilogy with As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning and A Moment of War.  The second deals with his departure for London and his first visit to Spain in 1935, and the third with his return to Spain in December 1937 to join the International Republican Brigades.  He moved to Slad in 1917 and died in 1997.
Laurie Lee was an English poet, screenwriter and novelist born in Stroud in 1914. His best known work was Cider With Rosie which tells of his childhood in Gloucestershire. It is part of a trilogy with As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning and A Moment of War. The second deals with his departure for London and his first visit to Spain in 1935, and the third with his return to Spain in December 1937 to join the International Republican Brigades. He moved to Slad in 1917 and died in 1997.

Then you could tantalise the taste buds with tomatoes and salted ricotta, asparagus and butter or perhaps a generous plate of mussels drizzled with cider and lovage.

We had the aged Dexter cheeseburger (£16), which came in a brioche bun with fries on the side. The locally sourced hash that made up the homemade burger patty was enormous and tasted so obviously superior to your standard burgers that it was almost an entirely standalone dish.

Our other main course was Torbay sole (£19), served with agretti – a succulent shrub also known as seaweed, from the Mediterranean which tastes a little like spinach – and bottarga, salted and dried fish eggs.

I had to Google these two things on my phone, which I guess makes it awfully simple for me, but at least I knew what I was ordering. Suffice to say that I chose well; it was really very good.



Sole Torbay with agretti and bottarga at The Woolpack
Sole Torbay with agretti and bottarga at The Woolpack

While my husband was tying himself to a cafe au lait, I was seduced by the Pear and Almond Tart (£8.50), served with golden Jersey cream, which slipped on a treat. As Prue Leith would say, it’s definitely worth the calories.

Our final bill including two glasses of house wine, a pint of and a G&T came to just over £80, but I think the table next to us would push well over a ton with their oysters, mussels, radishes and the Barnsley Chop, not to mention copious amounts of alcohol.



Woolpack Aged Dexter Cheeseburger
Woolpack Aged Dexter Cheeseburger

It’s not a cheap night out at the Woolpack – probably much more so than when Laurie Lee drank here with her friends a century ago – but if you’re willing to push the boat a bit it’s worth that bit more for the experience to enjoy the gastronomy in a very beautiful place.