Food, Fells and Fun in Grasmere Lake District Cumbria

 

How did we learn about the Lake District, Cumbria in Northern England? We were hurriedly running to our next networking appointment at TBEX when we were stopped by a lady representing Northern England. She noticed our Food Travelist shirts and said, “You must visit Northern England. We have wonderful food to explore.” We stopped in our tracks to listen to the story of Northern England. After hearing about all that Northern England had to offer we wanted to learn more and take a trip to see for ourselves.

The Lake District is a mountainous region in North West England. The ‘fells’ or mountains are a destination for ‘walkers.’ We learned very early on that walkers are hikers. The Lake District attracts walkers from all over the world. We also quickly learned that we’d need to become walkers to keep up with the food serving sizes we’d be getting in Cumbria.

Map of Cumbria

Cumbria is a hilly region of northwestern England that contains the Lake District. The website golakes.co.uk has a fun interactive map (Wooly the sheep is your tour guide) for helping you get around.

We traveled to the Lake District Cumbria by train after arriving in Manchester. It was a comfortable hour and a half train ride. One thing you’ll notice right away is that people will talk to you. Friendly and communicative, locals are free with their recommendations and it’s easy to get around. We arrived at Windermere, the largest lake in the Lake District and took a quick taxi ride to our first stop Grasmere.

Grasmere
Our cab ride to Grasmere was short but our driver entertained us with stories of the local area both old and new. Our home for the next three nights would be Rothay Garden Hotel.

Rothay Garden Hotel
Rothay Garden Hotel

We were immediately at home in the calm, relaxing environment there. We opened our door, heard birds chirping and took in the beautiful surroundings.  Grasmere is known  for being home to Red Squirrels, whose existence is dwindling, and the community has several groups dedicated to keeping the little critters safe. We’re sad to say we didn’t spy any on our visit.

Red Squirrels Lake District Cumbria

The four-star Rothay Garden is well appointed and the rooms are comfortable and roomy.  All rooms are equipped with a tea kettle, an assortment of teas and biscuits (or cookies for us Americans). They provide robes and slippers to wear while using the spa. The spa includes a large hydrospa, which looks out onto the beautiful fells and gardens. Also available are an herbal pine sauna, aroma room and heated infra-ray loungers for relaxing your aching body after a long day on the fells or strolling in Grasmere.

View from Rothay Garden Hotel
View from Rothay Garden Hotel

The Rothay Garden also has a full service restaurant that looks over their beautiful gardens. The Garden Restaurant is known for their four-course dinner menu. We dined there one night and had a remarkable meal. The recommended local Cumbrian beef was tasty and tender. The prize winner was the sticky toffee pudding we had for dessert. A local delicacy made at many restaurants the Rothay’s pudding was definitely a stand out. After dinner you’re invited to the comfortable lounge for coffee, tea and petit fours.  It’s a most civilized and intimate dining experience, wonderful for any celebration or a getaway weekend.

Rothay Garden Cumbrian Beef
Rothay Garden Cumbrian Beef

 

English Breakfast at Rothay garden
English Breakfast at Rothay Garden

After you’ve enjoyed The Rothay you’re going to want to explore the town of Grasmere. It’s just a five-minute walk from the hotel. What’s unique about the Lake District is all the local foods and products. Walking along the streets in Grasmere you’ll experience an abundance of shops, restaurants and tea rooms. Be prepared to further relax and enjoy yourself.

Walk into Grasmere
Walk into Grasmere

 

Wordsworth Cemetary Grasmere
Wordsworth Cemetary Grasmere

Grasmere has a rich cultural heritage and was home to writer and poet William Wordsworth. His home, Dove Cottage, can be seen through a guided tour. The Wordsworth Museum holds original manuscripts, pictures and possessions. At the St. Oswald’s Churchyard cemetery you can see the burial place of Wordsworth and his family.

Grasmere Gingerbread Shop
Grasmere Gingerbread Shop

Right next to the cemetery is the famous Grasmere Gingerbread Shop. In 1854, Sarah Nelson created a tasty gingerbread. When visitors passed through the cemetery to pay their respects to Wordsworth the wafting aroma of Sarah’s gingerbread encouraged them to try this chewy crumbly treat. Still today you can smell that same aroma and taste the gingerbread exactly how is was made back then. You won’t want to leave Grasmere without trying this unique gingerbread. Royals, celebrities and now even Food Travelist has tasted this wonderful recipe. It’s perfect with a cup of tea. The even better news is that you can now buy this original gingerbread online. Check out grasmeregingerbread.co.uk. They ship around the world.

Sandwich at Grasmere Tea Gardens Lake District Cumbria
Sandwich at Grasmere Tea Gardens

While you’re exploring Grasmere stop in Grasmere Tea Gardens or Baldry’s for a bite to eat or a cup of English tea. Remember portions are large so splitting may be preferred so you can sample more tasty treats along the way. Don’t worry if your feet are muddy or you have your dog with you. Both are welcome at most establishments, and many have signs that loudly proclaim as much.

 

Grasmere Chocolate Cottage
Grasmere Chocolate Cottage

There are also specialty shops and one that really caught our eye was the Chocolate Cottage. This local treasure features handmade chocolates by Richard and Angela Barker that you simply have to try. The dark chocolate ginger a local specialty was my favorite but the crowd favorite is the Brandy truffle.

 

Fish and Chips at The Jumble Room
Fish and Chips and Beef at The Jumble Room

As we’ve mentioned there’s a wide variety of food to choose from in Grasmere. The Jumble Room with its unusual decor and eclectic menu was one of our favorites. Comfortable seating and atmosphere made us wonder what kind of experience we were going to have. We quickly learned that we were going to be fed and fed well.

Sticky Toffee Pudding Jumble Room
Sticky Toffee Pudding at the Jumble Room

The food was delicious and the portions more than plentiful.

 

Sheep Everywhere
Sheep Everywhere

In order to work off some of those calories we hit some of the shops. There are so many from which to choose. Several shops feature products made by local artisans and some are just plain fun.

Barneys News Box lake district cumbria
Barneys News Box

We had a fun time in Barney’s News Box. They seriously have more puzzles than we’ve ever seen. Two huge rooms FILLED with puzzles. It’s a puzzlers dream.

Tweedys Pub Grasmere
Tweedies Pub Grasmere

Ambleside

Just a short bus ride away from Grasmere is Ambleside. Those who are hikers can also make the journey walking along a 4.5 mile path called the Coffin Road. If you’re wondering why Wordsworth made the Lake District area his home, the scenery on this path will quickly illuminate you. This route was originally trod by people bringing their loved ones to the only consecrated ground for burial in the area, which was the graveyard at St. Oswalds Parish in Grasmere. Along the path several of the cement coffin stands or rest areas still exist.

Kendal Mint Cake
Kendal Mint Cake

If you make the hike you’ll want to pick up a Kendal mint cake for the journey. Edmund Hillary and his team carried  a version with them on the first successful ascent of Mount Everest. A high glucose source of energy, Kendal mint cake is said to be a good item to have in the bag of every hiker.

Ambleside is downright bustling compared to Grasmere. The main street traffic buzzes through this town that is at the head of the Lake District’s largest lake Lake Windemere.

Ambleside Below The Stairs Kitchen Shop
Ambleside Below Stairs Kitchen Shop

There are many restaurants, pubs, bakeries and shops to explore. The Old Bridge and the Old Stamp House where Wordsworth worked are some of the highlights in Ambleside. We didn’t visit the Old Stamp House because it was closed that day but we did visit the Below Stairs Kitchen Shop and picked up a few unique kitchen items.

Pasty Big Pasty
Pasty Big Pasty

Ambleside continued to fill us with large portions of food. We sampled tasty pasties, apple pie from Apple Pie and left fully satisfied. Ambleside is home to the Armitt Museum with exhibits on Beatrix Potter and German artist Kurt Schwitters. Ms. Potter has a long and storied history with the Lake District, and was in no small part responsible for preserving much of the land that constitutes the Lake District National Park.

Beatrice Potter Lake District Cumbria

If you’re a Beatrix Potter fan, you can also visit her 17th-century farmhouse Hill Top and visit nearby Hawkshead to see the Beatrix Potter Gallery as well as Hawkshead Grammar School attended by Wordsworth.

To learn more about the Lake District check out golakes.co.uk the official tourism website.

Special thanks to Visit Britain! We were guests of Visit Britain on our visit to Northern England. We were not financially compensated. All opinions are our own and reflect our experiences at the time of our visit.

Our visit to the Lake District Cumbria continues with our next stop – Cartmel!

THE QUICK BITE: The Lake District Cumbria is located in Northern England and a perfect place to explore beautiful countryside and amazing local food.

 

16 thoughts on “Food, Fells and Fun in Grasmere Lake District Cumbria

  1. Looks like a fabulous trip! I would love to visit there. We’ve been to the Cotswolds, but I’m really looking forward to a return trip to explore everything else. This looks like a great destination with fabulous food!

  2. From the start of your post I knew this was going to be a great trip! The Rothay Garden Hotel looked so inviting and relaxing. I could almost picture myself sitting around the yard looking for those red squirrels! I typically do not equate Northern England with amazing food options, but between the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop to the Cumbrian beef, you convinced me!

  3. The servings were so large – but still didn’t have trouble eating them. The food is so fresh and delicious. The fish & chips were amazing – as big as your head!

  4. Your wonderful post has increased my desire to return to England and the Lake District. I visited in 1991 and only stayed one night in this area. The food looks wonderful. I want some of that gingerbread! Now, to begin planning my trip across the Pond!

    1. Thanks Debbra! It’s a wonderful destination such a beautiful spot in the world. I hope you make the journey there someday. Thanks for stopping by.

    1. Hi Betsy! I have to say that I did think of you on the trip and how much you would enjoy a visit to Northern England. Hope you and Pete get to visit one day.

  5. So great to read about an area that I’ve always heard is beautiful. And, OMG, once again the food looks amazing…..I could almost smell the gingerbread (my fav). Love the blue sky in Grasmere and the rare beef. Sorry, I’m hungry again. My key question is: have you now taken up hiking?

    1. Hi Jan! I think you’d still consider us serious walkers. Not sure we’d ever be able to compete with the pros we ran into in Northern England.

  6. Those brandy truffles at the Chocolate Shop would certainly catch my interest. I’d be willing to walk for miles in such scenic country to wear off some calories.

    1. Hi Michele, you’re absolutely right the walking seems like a fair price to pay for all the delicious food you’ll find in Cambria.

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