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The Pack Horse, Hayfield, Reviewed

Jonathan Schofield finds Hayfield a sweet setting for a decent meal in a crazy interior

Published on August 28th 2012.

The Pack Horse, Hayfield, Reviewed

HAYFIELD is undeniably cute.

The miniscule town lies about fourteen miles south east from Manchester Town Hall as the crow flies and reminds me of Hebden Bridge but is smaller and less gentified. There's the odd gallery selling quartz sculptures and the like but here it's very much more low key. It still feels real. 

Good custard and cream, nice fruit and jelly that was proportionate to the rest. Trifles provide the only use of jelly in cooking outside kids parties. 

Hayfield is a great base for walks into the Peak District, up into Kinder Scout or over the lower hills nearby. Best of all there are loads of pubs - the perfect finish to any stroll. 

Cute HayfieldCute Hayfield

The Pack Horse pub was recommended in a Twitter poll and is handsome in that big-boned upland way. The outside looks as sturdy as ever, although the decking is excessive.

Classic Pennine pubClassic Pennine pub

Inside the word 'excessive' doesn't do it justice. Some interior designer went mad in there, literally insane.

The place looks like a nail bar crossed with an Amsterdam bordello.

There's pale furniture in the dining area and see through plastic chairs (very comfortable it must be said), there are weird wonky mirrors with plush covered frames and there's a wonderfully tasteless chrome-effect horse's head. 

Tasteless Artefact Of The Week: A chrome-effect horse's headTasteless Artefact Of The Week: A chrome-effect horse's head

Unaccountably, on our visit there was only one table laid with linen and nobody was allowed to sit at it. Perhaps the squire of Hayfield owns this special place to which he brings the local young wenches before nipping upstairs and exercising his droit de seigneur.  

The squire's wenching tableThe squire's wenching table

The food is better than the surroundings. 

The potted slow cooked Gressingham duck for £5.50 with orange relish, toast and salad, was ruggedly lovely - it's the main picture above. I could quite easily have fought my way through the adorable texture of another pot as well. The salad was a fine addition but the orange bunched with the meat was the star. 

My slow-braised lamb wrapped in prosciutto over champ (mash with onions and milk) for £15.95 was another winner. The lamb was rich in flavour, enhanced by the ham. The champ had a few two many big lumps of spud but was otherwise just the ticket. 

Lush lambLush lamb

A steak and mushroom pie eaten by my companion was above the level of most other pubs' grub. Pastry was decent enough and so was the '48 hour gravy'. At £13.95 it was perhaps a couple of pounds too much and certainly didn't need to be tagged 'home-made' - we'd sort of assummed that. 

The redberry and elderflower trifle at £5.50 was a trip-down-memory-lane treat. My now deceased grandmother would have approved. Good custard and cream, nice fruit and jelly that was proportionate to the rest. Trifles provide the only use of jelly in cooking outside kids parties. I loved this dish. 

Jelly and fruit trifle funJelly and fruit trifle fun

A Platinum Blonde ale at around 5% was a golden ale, that was thirst quenching and citrussy. I had two pints.

The Pack Horse makes for an eccentric visit. As noted it tries a mite too hard with the food but delivers the goods. The interior is plain silly, but metrosexual men will be pleased by the eight options of handcleaner on offer in the toilets. 

Would I go back?

Yes, if I was walking the hills again and felt like stoking up.

Hayfield taught me something else as well. I learnt that Arthur Lowe, Captain Mainwaring of Dad's Army, had been born there. Oh the glamour.

That made me smile.

Metrosexual men of the world bask in this 'product'Metrosexual men of the world bask in this 'product'

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield


The Pack Horse, 3-5 Market Street  Hayfield, Derbyshire, SK22 2EP
01663 740 074 

Rating: 13/20 

Food: 6.5/10
Service: 3.5/5
Ambience: 3/5

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away.


Captain Mainwaring plaqueCaptain Mainwaring plaque

Very practical shopVery practical shop

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Francesca GaffeyAugust 28th 2012.

I love this place - they seem to have changed the chairs and tables, as it used to be all mis-matched furniture, but looks like they have replaced them with the see-through chairs. Also, they used to have an amazing chocolate fondue dessert and a huge ploughman's lunch served on a huge wooden board, looked impressive and was v tasty! Thanks for reminding me of this fantastic, crazy place - I will be making a trip over soon!

NazcaAugust 28th 2012.

Don't think a muddy mountain biker would be too welcome ;)

Phil WalkerSeptember 3rd 2012.

When I used to go there a few years back, the main waiter was a (very nice, but quite camp) gay bloke, who I think ended up with at least part ownership - which probably explains the decor, toiletries etc.

I never got the impression they'd mind a muddy mountain biker, but maybe things have changed?

The food did go down hill for a bit so we stopped going, but looks like it may have perked up again

Phil MurphySeptember 4th 2012.

"... a (very nice, but quite camp) gay bloke, who I think ended up with at least part ownership - which probably explains the decor, toiletries etc", now THAT, is comedy genius.

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