As the weather begins to improve and ferries return to Piel Island, one of Cumbria's most iconic pubs has returned better than ever.

The Ship Inn, located just off the southern tip of the Furness Peninsula, has been closed during the winter months but re-opened to punters on March 29.

The pub is steeped in history and has welcomed visitors for hundreds of years. 

The 50-acre island it sits on is home to just a handful of residents but is bustling every summer time.

One of the most famous aspects of the inn is the tradition of the King and Knights of Piel.

The tradition states that each new landlord is crowned 'King of Piel' in a ceremony where they sit in an ancient chair, wear a helmet and hold a sword while alcohol is poured over their head.

The current 'King of the Island' is Aaron Sanderson, 35, who took to the 'throne' at the start of 2022.

The Westmorland Gazette: As well as taking on the ten-year-lease for the pub and becoming caretaker of the island, he and his team have been busy re-vamping the pub since they took over.

Now, they are keen to share their updates with punters.

Aaron said: "We're now into our third season and feel that plans are really starting to come together.

"It’s not easy running an island business with its varied and unique challenges and it's been really tough with the pub changing over hands so many times. 

"We wanted to share some of the work that’s been carried out over the past year and we can't wait to welcome people back to the island now."

The Westmorland Gazette: Solar panels were a first for The Ship InnThe end of February 2023 saw a big change for the Ship Inn - the installation of solar panels.

On the pub's Facebook page, the team shared a picture of 30 of them nestled behind the pub.

This means staff and punters can now spend most days without the noisy diesel generator - which Aaron says was a feature of his first season.

There also charge a bank of batteries to get the business through the night.

The Westmorland Gazette: The scaffolding at The Ship InnLast year any visitors to the pub will have witnessed the building covered in scaffolding.

This is when The Ship Inn underwent some important external works and maintenance.

Lecks were replaced and repaired along with rotted doors and windows.

Some minor concrete works also took place to the rear of the building along with the interior and exterior wood windows and guttering also painted.

A team of lime wash specialists also came in and exhibited a very interesting process.

The main bar area got a refresh with sanding and painting the fitted benches.
The Westmorland Gazette: The painted fitted benches in the main bar area

Staff have also began painting the three en-suite guest rooms  being prepared for late 2024 - as a quiet winter escape.

The pub kitchen is also currently getting a revamp.

The last coat mixed with lard and now the pub's white walls can be seen from miles around.

Aaron added: "We had a great opening weekend and we're just hoping for some fantastic weather now to welcome people back to the island.

"Our next step is for us to provide food so we'll provide more details of that soon."

To keep up with the Ship Inn's latest updates, visit the Facebook page.