Village pub up for national rural award

Iain Dempster & Fiona Brown at the Leadburn Inn.  (Pic: Alan Wilson)
Iain Dempster & Fiona Brown at the Leadburn Inn. (Pic: Alan Wilson)

The Leadburn Inn near Penicuik is one of four finalists vying for the Country Pub Of The Year title at the Scottish Bar and Pub Awards.

The pub, restaurant and hotel, popular with passing trade and in particular bikers, was taken over in October 2013 by couple Iain Dempster and Fiona Brown. They now hope to take the Country Pub Of The Year title on August 16 at the Hilton in Glagow.

Fiona said: “We are really pleased, we were finalists in another category last year but unfortunately didn’t win.

“We are the only finalist in this category from south east Scotland. We will just have to wait and see, but we are delighted to be in the final four. Fingers crossed. We are just happy to get this far and get this recognition.

“It’s just a wee independent pub in the middle of nowhere. We have a big regular clientèle and we are grateful for their support. If it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be here. We really get to know our regular customers.”

Fiona spoke of a turnaround at the pub since she and Iain took over: “We are rural so always working hard to bring people in. We get a reasonable amount of passing trade as we are on a busy route. Our client base is quite wide, people come from all over, Edinburgh, Penicuik, Dalkeith.

“When we took over it was nothing at all, it’s all about thinking off new ideas and we have turned it around. It’s taken the Leadburn from what it was into a great pub that serves good local food, in fact we are probably more food-led now. Our chef is great. You get quality freshly cooked food and we do try to get all our produce locally.

“We try to have local beers where we can as well. We do a lot with Stewart Brewing in Loanhead and we have a lot of local craft beers. We also have a good selection of non-alcoholic ciders and beers because of our location.

“Country pubs can be a dying thing but we are still moving forward.

“We are a privately-owned country pub, which are few and far between these days, there are not many that are not part of a chain.”

The Leadburn Inn , which also has a kids soft play area, is popular with the biking community. Fiona said: “On our biggest bike night, the monthly Thunder Thursday, we had around 800 bikers here at the beginning of June for it. It was a really good night with a great atmosphere.

“We have a big event on July 29 – 60 years of H-D Sportster & Custom show, with music, stalls, kids face painting. It should be a great day.”