Eat and Drink in The Lake District
There’s all the timeworn tradition you could possibly want in the Lake District, with a cosy old inn in every valley and genteel country-house hotels offering fine dining and panoramic views. Hikers can fill up on hearty bar meals in front of a roaring open fire, while silver-service afternoon tea remains a ritual in some of the best-located rural hotels in the UK. But despite the familiar images, the Lake District is no yesteryear time warp – cutting-edge cuisine has very definitely come to Cumbria, with Michelin stars attached to celebrate places like L’Enclume in Cartmel, and fresh, seasonal, locally sourced ingredients increasingly the default backdrop to menus across the region.
In the main towns and villages of Ambleside, Keswick, Grasmere, Cockermouth and others you’ll find a mix of hip eateries, independent coffee houses and artisan bakeries alongside the standard run of tourist cafés and restaurants, while even in some of the most remote lakeland valleys traditional old pubs have undergone boutique makeovers and are cooking up a storm. If there’s a dominant trend, it’s towards the gastro-pub side of things – the George & Dragon near Penrith, the Punch Bowl Inn at Crosthwaite and Hawkshead’s Drunken Duck Inn, for example, are all classy gourmet operations that can hold their own in any company. Local specialities include the famous spiral-shaped Cumberland sausage – mainstay of many a Lake District breakfast – while fell-bred lamb, regional cheeses and sticky toffee pudding are all fixtures on lakeland menus.