More than 15 million visitors flock to the Lake District each year to enjoy the stunning scenery, explore the national park and embrace its natural beauty. There are also lots of different dining experiences to enjoy, from cosy pubs, fine restaurants and quaint cafés. Here are the best Lake District cafes that are worth a visit.
The Square Orange Café
Best for: Speciality coffee and live music.
Located in the heart of Keswick, The Square Orange offers a true continental cafe experience. The Square Orange is proud of its ethical approach with all of its tea, coffee and hot chocolate being ethically sourced. After enjoying a Derwentwater cruise with Keswick Launch, head to The Square Orange for a beer or a glass of wine. Enjoy a delicious, authentic stonebaked pizza in the Milanese inspired café and soak up the buzzing atmosphere during one of the weekly live music sets.
Langwathby Station Cafe
Best for: Cherry scone.
Langwath by is a pretty, remote train station on the famous Settle to Carlisle line, just outside Penrith. The station’s old waiting room is home to the unique Langwathby Station Cafe. The cafe is a popular spot with walkers and cyclists who come for the famous cherry scones and homemade quiche. The service is friendly, the prices are reasonable and dogs are welcome. Warm up on a winter day in front of the cosy cafe’s open fire and – if you’re lucky – you may even see the Flying Scotsman steam engine charge through on its way North.
The Crossing Point Cafe
Location: Kirkby Lonsdale
Best for: Home-cooked food made from seasonal, local produce.
The Crossing Point Café is described as the ‘culmination of a dream – an eatery that is all about local produce and the freshest food’. The pretty cafe offers wholesome, home-cooked food made from carefully selected seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. Inside the cafe’s rustic interior are wooden tables and a warming woodburner. The wine list has been curated by the owner and the menu boasts lovingly prepared, nutritious food in a friendly and relaxed setting.
The Lingholm Estate Kitchen & Walled Garden
Best for: Cakes in Peter Rabbit’s garden.
The Lingholm Kitchen and Walled Garden is open everyday for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. The café serves a range of foods, artisan breads and cakes – made in the adjoining Lingholm bakery – and barista coffee, teas and treats. It has a stunning 100 feet-long glass wall looking out onto the walled garden that once inspired Mr McGregor’s garden in Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
Best for: Cream teas.
Grange Cafe is located in the village of Grange, near the River Derwent, where the 1675 double-arched bridge still impresses visitors. The cafe offers light lunches and sweet treats and has seating both inside and out. With hundreds of fantastic walks right in front of its doorstep, Grange Cafe is the perfect pitstop. On a cold day you can enjoy local spiced sticky toffee pudding and, in the summer, nothing beats a cream tea.
Rattle Ghyll Cafe
Best for: Vegetarian food and the famous five-slice cake platter.
The Rattle Ghyll Cafe, in Ambleside, offers hearty, home-cooked goodness in beautiful surroundings. The rustic cafe bakes fresh cakes everyday and is well-known for its famous Cake Platter – five different slices of cake! The menu offers extensive vegetarian options from homemade soups and veggie chilli to baked potatoes and toasted sandwiches. You can choose from fair-trade, organic teas and coffees, fruit smoothies, milkshakes and juices.
The Watermill Cafe
Best for: Old-world charm and river views.
The Watermill Cafe specialises in delicious home-cooked food using only the finest local produce, served in the traditional village of Caldbeck. In the summer, guests can enjoy al fresco dining out on the terrace with views over the river Cold Beck. During the winter months, the candle-lit cafe is warmed by a cosy log stove. The historic building – built by a rector in 1702 – was used as a stone-grinding corn mill for more than 200 years. Today, the original waterwheel has been restored and adds to the cafe’s charm.
Best for: Italian platters and stonebaked pizzas.
Bici Cafe in Ulverston is an authentic Italian cafe and kitchen offering a daytime selection of brunch-style, light bites and artisan baked savouries. In the evening, you can enjoy delicious wood-fired pizzas, Italian small plates and a selection of desserts. The menu boasts traditional and contemporary pizzas, with the dough being made using a ‘long-fermentation’ method, adding to it’s authentic taste.
The Yard Kitchen
Best for: Soulful hideaway.
The Yard Kitchen is a bright, cute little café, located at Penrith’s Brunswick Yard. White brick walls line the interior where pressed flowers are displayed in frames. There is also a stove, to warm customers during the winter. The Yard Kitchen serves a wide range of soulful dishes, many with a foreign influence, and has lots of options for vegetarians. It’s a little tricky to find the café, but persevere, as it’s well worth a visit.
Best for: Cakes, pastries, lager and gin!
Poppi Red is a warm and welcoming cafe, and gift shop, selling a delicious range of cakes and pastries, freshly ground coffee and big pots of tea. The cafe was created by owner Kim Merrick who, after spending years travelling, came home and missed the shops she’d visited on her journeys so decided to create her own in Hawkshead. The cafe is decorated in floral prints, candy-colour polka dots and uplifting quotes. The licensed cafe also sells the locally-brewed Hawkshead Lager and a local damson gin in the summer months.
Syke Farm Tearoom
Best for: Fresh ice cream from the farm’s dairy herd.
Syke Farm Tea Room is a rustic, farmhouse cafe at Syke Farm Campsite in Buttermere. The farm’s Ayrshire dairy cows produce some of the freshest, regionally renowned ice cream. The smooth frozen treat is perfect after a summer’s walk around the beautiful Buttermere Lake. The tea room serves quality food in a casual, family-friendly environment, from sandwiches and soups to home-baked cakes and scones. Outside you can breathe in the beauty of the surrounding countryside and enjoy the staggering views.
The Moon and Sixpence
Best for: Coffee and pastries.
The Moon and Sixpence in Cockermouth is a stylish, artisanal coffee shop with a reputation for high-quality coffee and home-baked pastries. The owner, Stephen Kidd, has immersed himself in coffee culture and even lived in one of the world’s coffee capitals, Vancouver, where he gleaned experience from the experts.