5 great walks with cafes in the Lake District
PUBLISHED: 13:00 21 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:16 20 June 2019
Award winning outdoor writer and photographer Vivienne Crow shares five favourite walks that have the added attraction of a good cafe to recharge the batteries
A visit to a tea shop always adds something a little special to any walk. What a treat it is to sit down to coffee and cake at the end of an afternoon stroll or to tuck into a hearty lunch half-way through a gorgeous hike. From quaint little tea rooms that still bring you your drinks in dainty china cups to modern cafés staffed by trained baristas serving artisan coffee, the Lake District has plenty to offer - and all surrounded by the most breathtaking of landscapes.
It's no exaggeration to say we're spoiled for choice, but here are five of my personal favourites.
Helm Crag and Brew at Heidi's
Helm Crag (1329ft) stands like a sentry above Grasmere, its distinctive summit rocks attracting the eye of motorists as they drive along the A591. Who can resist their siren call? A fairly steep, but well-used path leads up from the Easedale end of the village, enjoying spectacular views from both sides of the southern end of the ridge. The sure-footed will attempt an assault on those summit rocks, or you might just want to drop into the peaceful, little-visited side valley of Greenburn and get back to Brew at Heidi's in Grasmere where mouth-watering cakes greets you as you step inside.
Keldas and Helvellyn Country Kitchen
The pine-topped viewpoint of Keldas commands an excellent perspective over Ullswater. Walkers can tuck into breakfast at Helvellyn Country Kitchen, something of an institution with Glenridding walkers, before climbing steadily to the 1020ft summit. After a visit to the tree-fringed waters of atmospheric Lanty's Tarn, drop into glorious Grisedale, the valley that cuts between the Helvellyn and Fairfield ranges. Skirt the base of the fells and ford Hag Beck to reach Patterdale. End by following a roadside trail that weaves in and out of the trees back to Glenridding. That's a lot of charm and variety packed into just four miles!
Great Langdale and Elterwater Café
If you're looking for easy walking in impressive surroundings, look no further than Great Langdale. Set off from Skelwith Bridge and use a combination of lanes, tracks and trails as far as the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, where you can then catch the 516 bus back to where you started. The majestic Langdale Pikes dominate the scene for much of the time, and you get to call in at the small-but-perfectly-formed Elterwater Café along the way. The whole walk is a little over five miles, but a bus stop is never far away should you wish to cut it short.
Rannerdale Knotts and Croft House Farm Café
At just 1164ft, Rannerdale Knotts is a real whipper-snapper of a fell that can hold its own in a land of giants. Towered over by Grasmoor, Red Pike and the High Stile range, its rocky summit can be easily reached from Buttermere. After a brief stroll beside Crummock Water, a walk up through the secluded valley of Rannerdale, awash with bluebells in the spring, leads to the main ridge. Mostly grassy, but occasionally rocky, this provides an exciting but not too challenging approach to the fell top. Back in Buttermere, simple lunches and warming drinks await at the bustling Croft House Farm Café.
Watersmeet and the Watermill Café
Wildflower-filled woods, dreamy views of the fells and two pretty villages are encountered in the quiet countryside at the base of the Lake District's Northern Fells. Start from Caldbeck, walk downstream to the bluebell woods beside the River Caldew and then head through meadows and woodland to idyllic Hesket Newmarket. Country lanes and farm paths lead back to Caldbeck where a limestone gorge hides a dramatic waterfall and the picturesque ruins of a once busy bobbin mill. Fairtrade produce, including generous platters, are served up in a restored watermill further downstream. In summer, sit outside in the sheltered garden overlooking the village cricket pitch.
Book your table
All the walks mentioned here are described in full in Vivienne Crow's book, Tea Shop Walks: Walks to the best tea shops and cafés in the Lake District. Priced £5.99, it includes numbered route directions for 10 walks, OS mapping, colour photographs and fascinating facts about places along the way. Available in shops, cafés, tourist information centres and online (ISBN 978-1-908632-46-3).
Tea Shop Walks is one in a series of 'Top 10 Walks' books published by Northern Eye Books.