The Lake District Guide
Your eating out guide to the English Lake District!
We feature the best restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs and takeaway food places.
Like many areas of the UK which have traditionally relied on farming as one of the main industries, Cumbria in general and the Lake District in particular are blessed with great food products. The producers range from small, local artisan operations with a small-scale enterprise to brands that are known nationally and internationally, like the famous Kendal Mint Cake.
The meat is especially good. Herdwick sheep are raised in a natural environment on the flavoursome grass and herbs of the Lake District hills, and they are free to wander over the area they inhabit. The result is a slow maturing meat, which is full of flavour and rewards careful preparation as either mutton or lamb. The Lakes were also renowned in times gone by for the pork products that it priced, and this tradition lives on in the naturally reared and often organic bacon and sausages which you'll find offered for breakfast at many hotels and guest houses. Once you've tried it, you'll be converted, as it's simply delicious.
As in many other regions of England, gastropubs, high-class fusion cuisine, the cafe-bar and modern bistros have spread through the Lakes and produced a host of places to eat and drink which offer far more than the traditional "roast and three veg." There are now many places serving local meat, fish and vegetables in a style of cooking which is noticeably influenced by local tradition but which matches in sophistication the best England has to offer.
Some of the Lake District country house hotels bring modern cooking to its highest level: Miller Howe and Sharrow Bay are names which may be familiar to you, but there are many others, including several with Michelin stars to recommend them. There are also gastropubs with a fine reputation, excellent cafes, and - as always - the good old British pub grub, which can be excellent. We've tried to offer you the best choice available in each category, though of course standards change - moreso, perhaps, at the lower end of the market - and we'd appreciate your feedback on anything we have described here, as well as the places you think deserve to be included.
Choose your style of eating in the English Lakes:
Gourmet restaurants - if you want a gourmet experience in the beauty of the Lakes, we have some suggestions for you, with a Michelin star or two thrown in for good measure.
Other recommended restaurants and Gastropubs - who said the Lakes was old-fashioned? With everything from Thai to Chinese, British to French, home-cooked traditional roasts to modern-day bistros, your satisfaction is guaranteed.
Other Lakes pubs - the Lake District has some of the finest hostelries you could ever hope to find! We list the better pubs, with good food, where we think you'll enjoy both the food and the drink.
Cafes and Bars - the high end of the market (though not necessarily high priced) - great food, informal surroundings, in the beautiful scenery of the Lakes. Perfect!
Vegetarian restaurants and cafes - the Lakes has a few exclusively vegetarian restaurants; we list these and also list the places with specialist vegetarian options.
Great everyday eating - including takeaways, informal cafes, snack bars, and the occasional Lake District restaurant oddity that we wanted to share with you...
A walk around Grisedale (near Helvellyn, starting from Ullswater)
There are many Grisedales or Grizedales in the Lake District. This dates from the early Norse settlers who habitually had a special part of a valley, or a whole valley for pasturing pigs 'Grise' meaning pig or bore. The best known Grisedale is an eastern facing valley at the foot of Helvellyn. It is a typical glacial valley - cut out by retreating ice at the end of the ice age. One can enjoy an interesting round walk in it, as two good tracks go up on either side of its beck. From its northern track starts the popular Striding Edge path for Helvellyn. A good many of the walkers on this path have no idea what they are in for, and fondly imagine that the gap in the wall on the skyline is near the mountain summit. It is less than half way there! Many novices attempt Helvellyn by this route. But not for you the crowded struggle to the summit, but rather a quiet walk in a green valley cupped in great crags.
The tracks are good and for the most part easily seen. They may be wet in places after bad weather.
Park your car in the field at the head of the public road into Grisedale. From Glenridding side this road is reached on the right travelling towards Patterdale. Just after the Patterdale sign it will be seen signposted Helvellyn. From the Patterdale village end it is just after the church on the left. Drive up the road and through the gate at the top, parking on firm ground at the side of the field.
The track is at the farthest end of the field as you approach it. Join this track and go towards the bridge on the right. Go over this and right up the hill. Go through the gate at the top and onto the Striding Edge track, but instead of going up it, turn left onto an indistinct path through the bracken. In midsummer this bracken may be somewhat dense. But you soon leave it straight ahead onto a reasonable path, on grass. Below on the left among a grove of trees is a farm called Breasteads. Then there is a pleasant grove of Scots Pine. The path is plainer now; you cross several becks. A wood is soon below to the left. This is mainly of Scots Pine with some hardwoods. Go through the iron gate. As you go on you see a good number of large boulders. These have mainly fallen from the crags above. But some of the half-buried ones may be seen to have glacial scratches on them, where hard rocks were pressed and pushed along them by retreating ice. The hump of a fell on the left is Birks. This is part of the summit ridge of St. Sunday Crag which is straight ahead and to the left of the dip at the valley summit.
Cross the wooden bridge. Above on the right is Nethermost Cove. Typically of glacial valleys this is a "hanging valley" above the main one, so-called because the ice scooped out a pocket in its descent. Beyond this point the track goes through a wall for the summit of the pass. You turn off it before this. There is a ruin on the left. Just short of it is a large boulder. Go round this and stride across the little beck where it runs on a paved bed. Then head left to descend carefully on rough and stony ground to a grass path and a gate in the wall. Go through the gate and cross the bridge. Go forward, keeping to the higher ground to pass the bog, then bear left to join the track going down the valley again. Ford two streams.
There is soon a mixed wood on the left and the path becomes wider. Leaving the wood you go through a gate near a little "hoghouse" - a little barn. Go through another gate. There is now a wood on the right, another mixture of hardwoods with larch. Go through another gate by the farm which the wood protects (Elmhow Farm). Go through another gate and the track wanders pleasantly through fields. If you look left you will probably see walkers struggling up the fell-side path to Striding Edge. Through another gate and the track goes very happily alongside the beck. At the next gate the road is better surfaced. The old barn on the right, among the grove of old trees, makes a pretty picture. You are soon back at your starting point.