A quaint little pub in a remote setting just outside Bishop Auckland and Coundon. Middlestone is a hamlet that is home to this 1770-built pub that was named after the old shipping station on the old drovers road from Upper Weardale to Teesport. One unique fact about this pub near Coundon and Bishop Auckland, is the cellar is actually ABOVE the bar!

The Ship Inn pub in Coundon

Image taken by Aiden Dawson

But what makes this pub appealing among another pubs in the area, is their dedication to traditional cask ales. It remains very popular because of their quality pub meals at affordable prices.

Inside the pub, it is fairly small but in a comfortable way. Through the day, the room gets it’s cosy ambience from the sunlight shining through the stained glass windows. At night, the open fire is alive and crackling especially in the winter. The lounge features many eye-catching nautical artefacts and sea memorabilia. With their solid oak floor and walls festooned with real ale pump clips- the lounge really does have that traditional warm and friendly “pub feel”.

There is also seating outside right on the road, along with their rooftop terrace. The front of the south-facing pub overlooks the panoramic views of the Cleveland Hills.

We will now delve into the reasons why we recommend this pub in more depth.

Why You Should Visit This Pub Near Coundon, Bishop Auckland

While this pub is not the only pub in Coundon and Bishop Auckland, it is the only one in the hamlet of Middlestone and the most unique in the region. Perfect location for a quiet few beers or a treat to a traditional pub meal.

Food and Drink

One good reason for paying this pub a visit is their traditional cask ales. Their bar has up to 6 beers from local microbreweries to national breweries. A lot of these beers are hard to find in most pubs.

You also have a selection of beers and lagers served on draft including Brewdog. Other alcoholic drinks include an arsenal of spirits, gins, fine wine and whiskey. You can also just have a soft drink or a low-alcoholic beer too.

If you’re in the mood for a warm tipple- coffee, tea and hot chocolate are also served here.

Food menus are provided at the bar and there is a decent selection of meals to treat yourself to. Their nautical-themed menu features Captains Classics that include:

  • Hunter chicken
  • Horseshoe gammon
  • Scampi
  • Peppercorn with black pudding

They have a long list of starter options including:

  • Garlic mushrooms
  • Black pudding & bacon
  • Calamari fritters
  • Potato skins

A separate steak menu which includes rump steak, ribeye steak and other steaks all derived from locally-reared cattle. Why not try some of the Captains Burgers including a parmo burger- where else can you get a parmo chicken burger?

They also have a set menu for parmos that include a list of all different varieties including Italian, Bolognese, Cajun their signature “Teessider”.

Their separate Italian menu includes a wide variety of pizzas made with sourdough thin crust. A pollo menu featuring many different chicken breast meals and a pasta menu with proper Italian recipes- from your standard Bolognese to Dolcelatte.

It’s fair to say, that The Ship Inn pub in Bishop Auckland is very unique for it’s variety of food from a spectrum of different cuisines. You can look at their full menu by clicking here.

Function Room

This pub is also a decent venue to hold private events. From wedding parties to christenings, birthday parties to conferences. The function room provides the perfect bit of space to make your event extra special. It is upstairs from the main lounge with the rooftop terrace that offers the beautiful view and atmosphere for you to celebrate and/or chill in the summer evenings surrounded by countryside air.


This venue often hosts events including live bands- for example, an acoustic party band and other live acts including comedy nights with local talented comedians. They have also previously hosted larger events using their surrounding grass space including barbeques and musicians and a pop-up outside bar with a gazebo.

There is a dartboard in one of the indoor spaces- they run a darts club on a regular basis. All the tables in this area are moved to facilitate playing darts.

Visit their Facebook page to keep up to date with upcoming events.


Middlestone is also home to a bed & breakfast including a Converted Primitive Methodist Chapel offering four-star accommodation right on the doorstep to the Ship Inn. It is a very good location for a quiet break or weekend stayover somewhere that is remote and away from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life. This pub is also near to Coundon which is home to other decent pubs and bars, which are recommended for their own reasons. You can visit The Ship Inn along with other nearby pubs in Coundon and Bishop Auckland to make an evening out of it.

Other things to do nearby include golf- with the Bishop Auckland Golf Club just a 5 minute’s drive away. The location is surrounded by plenty of walking trails and cycling routes around the country lanes. It’s a 10 minute’s drive from Bishop Auckland town centre and the new Tindale retail park so not too far from a shopping day out.


Above all, The Ship Inn is recommended for being accessible to all people with disabilities.

Wheelchair Access

There is no step going in/out the pub’s main entrance, the doorway is wide enough to pass through as well. Inside the pub, there is seating space to the right and the left as you enter. The bar area to the left has three small tables and one long upholstered seat and plenty of room for a wheelchair to park among the tables without obstructing the space at the front of the bar.

Through the bar room there is another seating area with tables for up to four people and just enough room to manoeuvre a wheelchair around. There is also more space for a wheelchair to sit outside the pub. Note that there are more picnic benches on the grass although this area is on a hill and may be difficult to get a wheelchair to these seats.

The rooftop terrace and upstairs function room can be accessed from outside by parking on the lane that forks from the main road and goes up the incline just before the pub and from here you can move a wheelchair from the lane to the rooftop terrace. With the pub being located on a hillside, the rooftop terrace and upstairs are level to the High Road, with the Low Road being level to the front and main entrance to the pub.

Diverse Menu

The menu includes a very diverse and wide selection of food so there’s bound to be something that you will like no matter what your taste and preferences are. It is also accommodating for people with dietary requirements including vegan/vegetarians- with food including veggie burgers, and vegan friendly pizzas too. They also serve gluten-free options including gluten-free pizza. It is best to ask the staff for more information on these options and for allergies too.

Child/family Friendly

It’s a family friendly environment, they sell drinks suitable for children including fruit juice and soft drinks as well as hot chocolates. The environment is calm and relaxing, no loud music playing. They sometimes have football matches playing on the TV at a reasonable volume. The place never gets rowdy with people drinking, it mostly attracts families and old folk. It never get’s overly crowded or noisy.

Dog Friendly

The Ship Inn is also dog friendly and this includes guide and assistance dogs. They even offer dog biscuits at the bar too. It is a decent spot for dog walking and there’s plenty of outdoor space in the hamlet for your dog to run about (be mindful of other people though).

Outdoor Space

The seating outside includes two picnic benches and two round tables with moveable seats. It is right on the roadside and is all flat and level ground- no kerb on the roadside. It is important to note that there is no pavement either so the seats at the front of the pub literally ARE on the roadside, but the road very rarely gets busy with traffic- just be mindful when vehicles pass.

There are other picnic benches located on the grass slopes.


We hope you found this listing helpful in finding more accessible places to eat and drink. Other pubs in Bishop Auckland and Coundon include:


Q Can you book a table?

Q Can you order food to take out?

Q Is the kitchen open during all opening hours?

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  • Monday04:00 PM - 10:00 PM
  • Tuesday04:00 PM - 10:00 PM
  • Wednesday04:00 PM - 11:00 PM
  • Thursday04:00 PM - 11:00 PM
  • Friday04:00 PM - 11:00 PM
  • Saturday12:00 PM - 11:00 PM
  • Sunday12:00 PM - 09:00 PM
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