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  • Writer's pictureGreen Traveller

Where to Eat in the Lake District

As part of our Green Traveller's Guide to the Lake District, Jackie King picks out a selection of restaurants, inns, cafés and local produce in this glorious National Park in the northwest of England.

The Lake District National Park's rolling hillsides and wide open fields offer plenty of scope for the region's local producers to thrive.

Menus throughout the National Park are packed with a rich variety of local field-to-fork specialities: from Cured Cartmel Venison Carpaccio, to Cumbrian Fellbred Rump Steak, to the countless homemade products on offer at the region's artisan bakeries and cake shops.

Whether you're looking to head straight to the source at one of the Lake District's famers' markets and farm shops, or tasting the gastronomic delights of the region's top restaurants, you can be assured that while feasting on the local fare, you'll be helping to keep money firmly rooted in local communities.

Google map: shows the location and details of all the places to stay, local food and drink, nearby visitor attractions and activities in our Green Travel Guide to The Lake District:

Green = Places to stay Blue = Local food & drink Yellow = Attractions Purple = Activities

Places to eat in The Lake District

Lindeth Howe Country House

The restaurant at Lindeth Howe has build its reputation on providing only the freshest locally-sourced produce. Head chef Marc Guibert is currently succeeding in meeting the highest of standards, with the restaurant having been awarded 2 AA Rosettes as well as recently having won the 'Lancashire & Lake District Life Magazine's Lake District Restaurant of the Year' award. With a fantastic a la Carte menu offering up the likes of Cured Cartmel Venison Carpaccio and Cumbrian Fillet, it quickly becomes clear just why Lindeth Howe is one of the National Park's top restaurants.

The Restaurant at Borrowdale

Dining out is one of the great pleasures while on holiday, which is why Borrowdale Hotel has gone all out to offer one of the region's top dining experiences. The four course locally-sourced dinner is a particular treat, offering up the likes of Traditional Roast Lakeland Beef and a selection of Cumbrian Cheeses to give you a sample of the true quality of luxury produce. If you're up for something a little more relaxed you can rest by the fire in the comfortable lounges, or choose to dine from the comfort of the conservatory. With traditional locally-sourced roasts served from a silver trolley and a comprehensive wine cellar, this really is one of the fancier eateries to find local produce.

The Cottage in the Wood

The philosophy underlying this quality restaurant near Keswick is to use the best possible produce "and to combine these ingredients to create intriguing and original food." Head chef Ryan Blackburn strongly believes in the quality of Cumbrian ingredients, with food sourced from the likes of Lakes Speciality Foods and Donnan Quayside Fisheries in Whitehaven. The kitchen team have also embraced food foraged from the forests, and you'll likely find wild mushrooms, damsons, blackberries, bilberries, garlic and even nettles peppering the menu.

Quince and Medlar

Specialising in vegetarian dining, this cosy restaurant in Cockermouth revels in its own wood panelled, candlelit atmosphere. The restaurant has featured in the likes of the Which Good Food Guide, the AA Food Guide and Vegetarian Briatin, as well as having won the national vegetarian Society of the Year and Vegetarian Living Restaurant of the Year awards. Take a quick peek at the evening menu and you'll discover smoked cumberland cheese and mushroom roulade and a spinach cream cheese and Wensleydale gateau, and how about a date and fig sponge pudding for dessert?

Honister Yew Tree

You'll find the Yew Tree cafe/bar at the same location as the Slate Mine, which is a fantastic attraction in it's own right and is the last working slate mine in England, offering guided tours deep underground and live displays. Nestled at the foot of Honister Pass, the Yew Tree restaurant offers up good quality, homemade local food in what was once a traditional miner's cottage. If the weather gets really nice, you can enjoy a pint of ale while gazing out over the babbling brook.


This award-winning pizzeria is one of the Lake District's top eateries, as well as being a cafe, jazz bar and cinema! When it comes to food their philosophy is simple - take the finest local and organic ingredients, throw in a handful of Mediterranean influences and create unpretentious, delicious food. If you want to feel really good about dining here, order the 'Rainforest Pizza' and 25p will be donated to a small botanical sanctuary in Kerala, India. Also, if you fancy doubling up with a two-course meal and a cinema ticket, it'll cost you £17.95.

Brown Horse Inn

The Brown Horse Inn may have the cosy ambience of a rustic country inn, but the food on offer here wouldn't be out of place at a top restaurant. Drop inn for dinner and you'll be spoilt for choice, with the likes of the '21 day mature rib eye steak', the 'Lakeland barnsley chop' and 'venison and redcurrant sausages' to choose from. You'll also be pleased to know that all of the meat and most of the veg found on the menu is reared and grown on the Brown Horse Estate, with everything else sourced as locally as possible. In addition to that, you'll also be able to sample a whole range of hand pulled, home brewed and traditional ales, not to mention an extensive collection of wines.

Watermill Inn

A hugely popular traditional Lakeland pub in the quiet village of Ings, just outside Windermere. A regular feature of the region's 'Pub of the Year' competitions, Watermill Inn prides itself on offering a range of traditional real ales, served from real hand pumps. With a guaranteed 16 real ales at any one time (plus numerous guest ales), this really is the place to visit if you're looking to sample the best produce Cumbrian brewers can offer. And if that wasn't enough, the Inn also boasts a comprehensive menu full of traditional pub food to be enjoyed in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

Wainwright's Inn

If you're looking for a traditional country pub with award-winning real ales, log fires and menu filled with hearty dishes, you should look no further than Wainwright's Inn in Ambleside. Expect to find all the usual pub favourites, from traditional Cumberland sausage and mash to braised lamb shank and Wainwright's fish and chips (with batter made from Jenny's local beer). If you're not quite feeling up to a full meal you can try a light snack, maybe a filled roll baked fresh that morning from an artisan bakery in Staverley. With a range of award-winning ales and a thumbs up from both CAMRA and the Good Beer Guide, you don't necessarily even need to eat at all!

The Masons Arms

The Masons is a traditional bustling inn, where staff manoeuvre their way through the busy dining room with dishes full of Lakeland damson and pork sausages, local game, roast belly pork and Cartmel lamb shank - many of which are locally sourced. When you combine this with a fantastic selection of wines and fine beers it doesn't take long to understand just why the Mason's Arms is so popular. Spend the summer months eating al fresco on the terraces, and revel inn the wonderful atmosphere indoors when the sun goes in.

The Kirkstile Inn

The kitchen team have worked hard here to develop a reputation for unpretentious, home cooked meals that place strong emphasis on Cumbrian and Lake District suppliers, from the local cheeseboard and Waberthwaite dry cured ham to the Gilcrux trout and Lorton-reared rare breed pork. There's also a wonderfully relaxed environment and, while the specials board may change daily, you're more than likely to find the true favourites such as the Lakeland fillet steak and the Penrith chicken, plus you should certainly look out for the Cumberland Rum Nicky and bread and butter pudding!

Wilf's Cafe

This cosy little cafe in Staverley offers up good local food in a quiet riverside setting with decking that overlooks the River Kent. Visit around lunch and you'll find sandwiched made using local granary bread (even gluten free if needed), delicious Wilf's Rarebits and homemade cakes, while certain evenings play host to 'Speciality Nights', where it'll cost you £20.40 for 3 courses for a themed meal showcasing the very best that the cafe has to offer. The cafe also held a series of talks during February and March this year on subjects including long distance cycling and walking

Blackwell tearoom

Spend a little while at the Blackwell Arts and Crafts House tearoom and you'll soon discover that a great deal of emphasis is placed on quality and handmade produce. Visitors are able to select from a menu of freshly prepared meals and home bakes, including gourmet open sandwiches and Blackwell chocolate brownies. On wamer days, you'll even be able to enjoy your meal from out on the terrace that overlooks the Coniston Fells and Lake Windermere.

Low Sizergh Barn farm shop & tearoom

Within the farm's 17th century barn you'll find an interesting three-floor retail space, complete with a spacious farm shop selling all manner of local and speciality foods, as well as a good range of homemade Low Sizergh ready meals, deli salads and confectionary. There's also an extended cheese counter where you can pick up a number of local samples. Alternatively, you could head on over to the tearoom and tuck into freshly baked scones, good Cumberland sausage and homemade cakes - even the tea and coffee are bought based on their provenance!

Courtyard Cafe

Specialising in local and seasonal food, the Courtyard Cafe offers truly warm and welcoming atmosphere within the grounds of Holker Hall and Gardens estate. The head chef offers a hugely veried selection of daily specials, while the in-house baker whisks up a mouth-watering array of cakes, biscuits and desserts. Groups of ten or more can also take advantage of fine dining in the newly refurbished Burlington Room.

Brysons of Keswick

Renowned for the top quality of its fresh bakery products, Bryson's of Keswick is a one-stop-shop of all things delicious in the Lake District. With fresh goods baked daily, the company creates one of the widest ranges of breads, cakes morning goods and cream cakes that you're like to find for miles around. We'd highly recommend that you try both the speciality Lakeland Plum Bread and the Finest Fruit Cake, not to mention the Florentines and Borrowdale Tea Bread.

Grasmere Gingerbread

Owned and run by the Wilson family, this cosy cottage in Grasmere has been churning out delicious gingerbread since 1854. It is the delicious aroma of this freshly baked treat that keeps customers coming back to this relatively tiny shop, although once inside you'll soon discover tell tale signs that the building was once a school - the coat pegs are still in place, as is the cupboard used to house the school slates. As well as Sarah Nelson's Original Celebrated Grasmere Gingerbread, you're likely to find traditional rum butter, home made fudges and Penrith toffee.

Hawkshead Relish

Condiments don't tend to come more highly acclaimed than those on offer at Hawkshead Relish. This small, family-run business is run by Mark and Maric, who started serving relishes in their village centre café and soon decided to shut up shop to focus on production full time. In 2005 they received the 'Speciality Producer of the Year' award from the True Taste Awards and have continued winning awards ever since. Visit the shop and you'll not only find the full range of relishes, chutneys, pickles and reserves, but also cakes, biscuits, cheese and beer.

Kendal Farmers' Market

Pay a visit to the 'gateway to the Lakes' during the last Friday of the month and you'll soon find yourself surrounded by the sweet-scented stalls of Kendal's ever popular farmers' market. This is one of the top place in the region to get your hands on authentic local produce, directly from the producer. From local breads and cheeses to locally-reared meats, the producers you'll encounter are all passionate about one thing - spreading the word about just how good homegrown local Lake District produce can be.

More? Artisan Bakery

Having spent some 20 years in some of the Lake District's finest Country Houses, local chef Patrick Moore decided to pack up and open More? Artisan Bakery as a means of combatting the mass-produced industrial foods so readily available. A few years down the line and Patrick's award-winning bakery is using the finest quality, natural ingredients and traditional techniques to create a range of delicious breads and patisseries to sell both in store and online. So whether you're a foodie, a bit of a bread expert or if you simply love the smell of fresh bread, we highly recommend a visit!

Hawkshead Brewery

While it may no longer live in Hawkshead, the brewery is still one of the top places in the Park to pick up locally-brewed ales. A relatively new arrival is the Beer Hall, which has been given a Cask Marque award for serving the 'perfect pint'. Within the Hall you'll find two bars, the Beer Kitchen and shop. From the Hall you can actually see into the brew house itself and watch the likes of the Lakeland Gold and Damson & Vanilla Stout being brewed. We also highly recommend you try the speciality Beer Tapas, an ever-changing menu of dishes (including potted Flookburgh shrimp and Brodie's prime sausages) that are the perfect accompaniment to a pint of home-brewed ale.

For information on characterful places to stay, nearby visitor attractions and activities, see our Green Traveller's Guide to the Lake District

Artwork for Green Traveller's Guide to the Lake Distrcit


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