Baldry’s Tea Room, Grasmere: Lemon Meringue Pie – the very words bring back memories of childhood, when my Mum used to make the most mouth-watering dessert with her own lemon curd and squidgy meringue. I never thought I’d say this but … shhhhh – the LMP at Baldry’s Tea Rooms is possibly even better than my Mum’s. For a quick lunch, their homemade soup is excellent, but you must leave room for a big slice of tart, lemony heaven on a plate. Baldry’s has a vague air of Fin de Siècle France about it, with fancy gilded mirrors and pretty china and the idiosyncratic window display always catches the eye of passing tourists. Whilst you’re in Grasmere, you can see Wordsworth’s grave in ancient St Oswald’s churchyard and wander down to the lake to walk off all that delicious food.
Bridge Cottage Tea Shop, Grange-in Borrowdale: turn off the main road from Keswick to Honister, over the double-arched packhorse bridge, round the corner and there you have a perfect little grey slate cottage. Go through low doorway and find a cosy little table in this small, yet perfectly formed tea shop. There are always plenty of snacks, light meals (my favourite is the simply scrumptious cheese and ham toastie) and drinks to choose from. In the height of summer it’s very busy so be prepared to wait – definitely worth it. Go for a wander beside the clear waters of the River Derwent – there are plenty of pebbles to skim across the water. On your way back make sure you stop off for a walk to Friar’s Crag for one of the best views in the Lake District.
Rattle Gill Café: up a steep lane and round a little bend, alongside Stock Gill water cascade is a vegetarian gem. I sheltered from a rain storm one day and in the snug vegetarian café wolfed down a delicious bowl of vegetable soup (go for the HUNGRY Monkey bowl if you have a big appetite!) with fresh, wholemeal bread and a very fruitful smoothie. The friendly owners will make dishes to order and they have a very tempting children’s menu. Make sure you walk up Stock Gill and wander around Ambleside which, as a popular walking centre, has a large selection of shops stocking everything for the hardy hiker and camping crank.
Poppy Red: Hawkshead is the quaint Cumbrian village famous for Wordsworth’s school, Beatrix Potter’s gallery, its eponymous outdoor clothing shop and tasty relish. There are some excellent little shop and great pubs and the quirky tearoom, Poppi Red – so much more than just a place to get a good cup of tea, coffee or glass of wine. Curious tea pots, quirky plates and a cup cake cornucopia on one side and a jam-packed gift shop on the other. If the weather is fine, grab a table outside, order a drink and watch the world go by …
Low Sizergh Barn Tea Room: one of my absolute favourite places for a cuppa and a cake (en route to the Lake District on the A590 near Kendal), the tea room also has a unique view … over the milking shed. On any day of the week, mid-afternoon you will find little children, noses pressed up against the glass, gazing down on the black and white cows as they placidly line up to get attached to the milking machines.
In this tastefully converted rustic barn there’s always a great selection of home-made meals and delicious bakes to tempt the hungry visitor. Once refreshed you may then be tempted to purchase some locally grown strawberries, a pretty jumper or a wicker basket from the vast selection of crafts, food and gifts in their oh-so-very-enticing Farm Shop.