Saturday 14 May 2011

A Tour of the Lake District

I had a truly wonderful time in the Lake District. We stayed in a little town called Bowness-on-Windermere which was a great centre spot for exploring the area. The weather was glorious, it was sunny all week and not a spot of rain until the evening before we left. I hear they have thunderstorms now, so we were very lucky.

We were out walking every day, exploring a new town around Windermere, hiking in the fells, clambering up to waterfalls, hunting out local food shops and taking in the spectacular views!

I was also very impressed with the availability of vegetarian restaurants in the area. There isn’t even one vegetarian restaurant in the town I live in and yet I managed to eat in three different vegetarian restaurants in one week whilst in the Lakes. Not only that but in all three I should think that over half the menu was also gluten free, meaning I was in my element and quite giddy with all the menu choices.

Below is a little summary of some of my holiday highlights and places I would recommend visiting if you are ever in the area.

A ride on the ferry from Bowness-on-Windermere to the other side of Windermere Lake. It’s only 50p for a foot passenger and you get some wonderful views of the lake – bargain!

After stepping off the ferry you can take a short hike up some steep stone steps to an old Water Station with some interesting history and yet more views of the lake.

I was amazed to discover that almost any patch of ground near water or in woodland was sprouting an abundance of wild garlic! I’ve never seen so much. We picked a bit and had it with some salad at dinner. It was quite strong but sweeter and milkier tasting than raw bulb garlic. I’d have loved to have picked some more and made it into soup.

Do you have a powerful car? Are you are confidant driver? If so then this next trip is for you! A drive through Hard Knott Pass leading into Wrynose Pass. It’s a long, steep, twisty, narrow, often cliff edged path through the valley. It takes you right up into the mountains and gives some amazing views but some of the roads and so steep and narrow it will have you clutching at the dashboard, especially if you meet a car coming the other way and have to reverse down a cliff!

Half way through Wrynose Pass you can pull over and walk up onto the hilltop to explore the ruins of Hard Knott Fort. It’s very open and exposed so go prepared to tackle the wind.

A walk to Stanley Ghyll Force Waterfall, situated between Eskdale and Boot is a definite must. It may in fact be the most enjoyable and scenic walk I did whilst in the Lakes. You have to walk through some woodland, following rocky streams, before climbing up narrow stone steps and crossing over wooden bridges to reach the waterfall. The walk is so peaceful and tranquil and the surrounding vegetation is so lush that it is almost tropical!

A hike up Loughrigg Fell near Grasmere is very rewarding and perfect for anyone not keen on attempting one of the bigger mountains like Scarfell or Coniston. It’s still a challenge, being very steep and quite rocky in parts but we got up and down in one afternoon and, as always, the views were spectacular! On one side we had Windermere and the other views of Grasmere.

It was very windy at the top, so much so my hair was flying all over the place and I could barely see where I was walking, but gosh, the wind and the views really made me feel alive!

No walk would be complete without a rewarding ice cream at the end. There was a company we discovered called The Windermere Ice Cream Co who made over 30 different flavours of ice cream and as luck would have it, they had a scoop shop in the village we were staying in, so we were able to indulge quite often. The ice cream was divine – if not a little pricy. My tip would be to go for a single scoop tub over a cone – they give you more ice cream! My absolute favourite one I tried was the cinnamon and plum ice cream – heavenly, but we also sampled tiramisu, rum & raisin, damson, cherry and coconut.

Lancrigg Vegetarian Restaurant in Easedale is a hidden gem. Set in a huge manor house its completely vegetarian with many of the dishes being adaptable to gluten free. Its hidden just on the outskirts of Grasmere, in a stunning location and is well worth a visit. We went for lunch and were really impressed at the variety and care that had obviously been put into planning their dishes.
I had the daily special which was oven baked cashew nut and lemon falafel served on a fresh tomato sauce with fresh cranberry chutney accompanied by a side salad, a warm ratatouille and paprika potato wedges. It was huge plateful and all so tasty. Using cashew nuts in falafel was a real eye opener for me. It gave them such a rich creamy flavour, I’ve never cooked with cashews like this before but I’m longing to try it out myself.

Desserts were equally impressive. I had a chocolate espresso mousse with coconut sorbet. The mousse was so rich and intensely chocolaty, while still being soft and light. It was the perfect contrast to the cool silky coconut sorbet.

Another diner had the simply named pavlova, and was presented with a mountain of delicate meringue topped with freshly whipped cream and a mix of lightly stewed and fresh summer berries. It was a fabulous meal and everyone left absolutely stuffed!

In Grasmere we discovered a shop dedicated to tote bags printed with amusing things, with their brand being ‘…. Are Good’ ranging from things like chocolate to piano teachers. I ended up buying two, one for myself and one for a friend. I couldn’t resist the Cakes Are Good bag.

More? Artisan Bakery in Kendal is well worth a visit if you love bread. They have a fabulous array of breads, pies and brownies. I’d looked them up for a visit as I’d heard they made gluten free award winning brownies – what they refer to as ‘muddies.’ Let me say they deserve their award. YUM! One of the best bought brownies I’ve ever eaten, even before I went GF. It had a thin sugary top crust and was packed with chocolate flavour. The texture was almost that of flourless chocolate cake – so good!

The Staff of Life Bakery, also in Kendal, is another good bread shop. It’s a tiny shop hidden down a side street but the smell was just incredible and you could see the breads being handmade in the back. Sadly nothing GF but other family members raved about the bread.

In Kendal yet again, The 1657 Chocolate House is the place to go if you fancy a hot chocolate and cake. They have 18 different flavoured hot chocolates on the menu as well as about 6-7 different chocolate cakes. We stopped by mid morning and sampled the mint hot chocolate, almond and the cinnamon spice. All delicious.

Low Sizergh Barn is situated on a running farm and their shop has a fantastic display of local meats, cheeses, pickles, jams, fruit and other assorted goodies. I picked up a bottle of rosemary extract which I’m longing to try out in a lemon cake. They also have a tea room which if you visit between 3:30pm and 5pm you get to watch the cows being milked below from a huge picture window. Not something I’ve ever experienced before!

Finally I would highly recommend Zeffirellis in Ambleside. It’s an Italian restaurant attached to a cinema, although can go just to one or the other. Being attached to a cinema may make you think that the restaurant would be a little substandard, but rest assured this is not the case. The restaurant was very sleek and stylish, with dim lighting and an arty glass water feature thing in the middle of the room. It had been recommended to us, but imagine how delighted I was to discover that it was also completely vegetarian. Not only that but all of their pizzas and most of their pasta dishes were able to be made gluten free. I had a delicious gluten free pizza and it was so nice to have such a wide choice from the menu.

As you can see the Lake District has such a lot to offer and I feel there was still more we didn’t get chance to explore. Guess I’ll just have to go back again next year!
Update: Blogger was playing up yesterday and for some reason it's deleated all the comments from this post - humpf!?


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Thanks for sharing! That is one beautifl place.



James Brewer said...

Fantastic Post - thanks for sharing your experience. I don't think you can beat the British countryside and exploring it. I've not yet explored the Lake Distrtic, but it looks wonderful.

How great it would be to also have that artisan bakery nearby?

Johanna GGG said...

great pics and all those places sound wonderful - now I wish for a trip to the lake district - such a lovely part of England

Beth (jamandcream) said...

Fab photo's. I'm rather ashamed to say I've never been...must rectify

girls who like to gorge said...

Your trip looks fantastic! What great food and scenery!

Anonymous said...

Lovely pics - my brother got married in Bowness - it was really lovely. Haven't been there since, will have to take a trip this summer. The veggie restaurant sounds great - I'm a veggie and am fed up with restaurants having rubbish veggie options!

Chele said...

A lot o fyour photos look very familiar to me. I love the lake district, you can;t help but feel restored after a visit.

Rachel Hughes said...

Great pictures, you look like you had a great holiday. I love the Lake District.

The Caked Crusader said...

Goodness - you were lucky with the weather!
I think I could happily live in that bakery!

Monica H said...

Looks like you had a great time and ate well! Thanks for sharing all the photos with us.

Rosemary extract? I'm intrigued!

LPATRI11 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LPATRI11 said...

The Lakes look lovely. I'm planning a trip soon - any recommendations on hotels?

Katie said...


SOrry no hotel recommendations as I stayed in a self catered cottage. There is certainly plenty of hotel to choose from though

Rosita Vargas said...

lindos paisajes maravillosas fotos,en mi otro blog también tengo fotos de chile ,tu cocina me gusta mucho tienes bellas recetas,abrazos.