Mike's Lake District Guide
Mike Bevans, owner of Linthwaite, gives you his personal insight into his favourite Lake District locations, attractions and snippets of local information.
A wandering I shall go.....Apparently I enthuse about a few paces in the Lakes to shop, stop and eat, stop and stare, and it's been suggested I should write 'em down.
so here goes.
Bowness:Stars of Bowness are not obvious, though the village is really very nice being on the edge of Lake Windermere. If you want some outdoor gear I use Stuart Sports half way up the hill on the right, just past the NatWest bank. I am not a fan of Costa because I like to support small businesses. Bowness is near Linthwaite, so coffee is back at the ranch. Hole in t'wall is the pub to go to. Looks authentic. We have arrangements at the McDonald Spa at the Old England Hotel for our guests; it's free if you stay with us.
Windermere:The bit of town by the A591, the main trunk road through the Lakes, also known as the Golden Mile in Windermere. Lakeland is loved by shoppers of kitchen stuff. Go to the station and the car park's through there. There is a great cafe upstairs, run by our friends the Doherty's. He's ex Gavroche, so the nosh is good indeed. Nice views too. Lunch may involve a wait though. You can browse the kitchen drawer specialists meanwhile. There is a Greggs, to be avoided at all costs, but just down from them is the Oak Street Bakery. A different prospect altogether. There are the staples such as Boots, and WH Smiths if you really need them.
Staveley:This is a small village between Kendal and Windermere. Worth a detour. Great base for mountain biking and walking the Kentmere Valley. Wheelbase: they have all your bike needs. Huge warehouse. Also in Staveley Yard are numerous other good things. MORE bakery, where we buy some bread and I buy the 'full shaba'. Go on, find out what it is. Awesome brownies, or muddies as he calls them. A proper bakery with great takeaways and fine coffee. There is a small sitting area in and outdoors. Of course most people mention Wilfs, the vegetarian cafe, spread out over all sorts of levels in and outdoors as the place to eat in Staveley. In between these esteemed establishments is the Jewel in the Crown; Hawkshead Brewery, where you can not only enjoy a pint of fine local ale, but you can accompany it with some of the ubiquitous Mr Doherty's fine food. (Cumbrian tapas in other words.) Don't spoil your dinner though! Work it all off with a visit to the Waters and Acland bespoke furniture and cabinet makers. Serious antiques for the future.
Ings:A bit farther along from Staveley towards Windermere. here there are two things. A petrol station and the excellent Watermill Inn, where one of our old chefs cooks hearty meals. But the beer's the thing here. (Noticed a theme yet?) Worth mentioning you can download a fantastic map of the beers and breweries of Cumbria. The CAMRA breweries map is based on the London tube map. As well as the breweries, regular beers are featured along with their alcoholic strength, so you know what you’re getting. This is the second version of the map and 500 individually numbered maps have been printed. Click here to view.
Grange-over-SandsAlso known as God's waiting room, it really is a splendidly gentile place. It has a long flat promenade overlooking Morecambe Bay. Fabulous views. It has some shops. Some lovely parks and garden style parks with water and exotic bird life. It even has an adult outdoor gym. Most of all though it has Higginson's Butchers which happen to sell the best pies ever! Brilliant if you're off walking.
Hawkshead:This is where Wordsworth carved his initials in the desk at the grammar school. It's pedestrianised. Good car parking. No street parking. Great tea shops with massive cakes (The Sun Tea Shop), pubs, relish shops, and the National Trust have the Beatrix Potter Gallery here too. Essential!
Lakeside:The Bobbin Mill. What more can I say? I could mention the Lakeside Hotel; nice people, lake front, right next to where the boats stop on their way round Windermere (Bowness-Lakeside-Waterhead). Also, why not drop in to the YMCA which has a fabulous position; if you have kids you can book them on some terrific outdoor pursuits here?
Newby Bridge:On the way to Haverthwaite (you can always get the steam train from Lakeside), is the excellent Lakeland Motor Museum. One of the best I have ever seen, and I do love cars.
Ambleside:This is the biggest central Lakeland town. It has myriad outdoor clothing shops. Loads of tea shops and cafes. Pubs, cinemas, bookshops. Great on a rainy day. If you like garden centres, you may not want to go to Hayes. There are nicer ones elsewhere, but this one is enormous.
Grasmere:Daffodils. Wordsworth's grave. National Trust's new Allan Bank House; decidedly radical for the NT. Outdoor clothing shops, tea shops; Baldry's the best, pubs. Brilliant Jumble Room Restaurant. If you like 70's music you'll admire the LP sleeves in the toilet! Beautifully small. Cute, and American called it. Nestled in the central lakes overlooked by big fells, this is truly a great setting for a village. Don't forget to try the famous Grasmere gingerbread!
Skelwith BridgeOne of our favourite destinations for the fabulous Chesters by The River. This is run by our friend Steph Barton who also has the amazing Drunken Duck at Barngates. Chesters has a fabulous setting. A wonderful eaterie which is constantly re-inventing itself, and a shop full of desirable things for your home and kids/grandchildren. Soon to have a new takeaway food thingy. This is also another good base for walking but she won't thank you if you leave your car in the ir car park as space is precious!
BarngatesThe Drunken Duck. Great food; Chef Johnny used to work for us at Linthwaite 'when he were a lad'. Great beer; they brew the famous Tag Lag. All beers here are named after their dogs. But don't taste like dogs. I have never had one, honest.
Near SawreyThe ferry goes from South of Bowness (Ferry Road is a clue) just down the hill from Linthwaite across Windermere, the water not the town, to the Western shore. Drive West a very few miles, and in a short time you'll pass through Far Sawrey to Near Sawrey. Beatrix Potter's Hill Top Farm (NT).