Book Review by Steve Matthews of Bookends.
Tea Shop Walks: Walks to the best tea shops & cafes in the Lake District. By Vivienne Crow. Northern Eye Books. £5.99.
For some of us, a walk in the Lake District is a walk across the fells, a hike, a route-march, a physical challenge, mind and body pitted against the elements, climbing the heights and roaming the lonely spaces, conquering Scafell and Skiddaw and Helvellyn, pushing the body to exhaustion, battling the wind and the rain, the sudden storms and those occasional brilliant bursts of sunlight and experiencing the wonder of the fells with something akin to ecstasy.
For others, it is a Sunday afternoon’s stroll, nothing more than a few miles, five at the most, done at a leisurely pace, an afternoon for the quiet contemplation of the changing face of nature, completed with a warm cup of of tea in a comfortable cosy cafe where you congratulate yourself on an hour or two well spent and restore your energies with a generous slice of cake.
For those sensible people who belong to the latter category, Vivienne Crow has compiled the ideal guide.
There are ten walks and ten cafes. There’s Brew at Heidi’s in Grasmere. You start there and if you complete your four and a half mile trek over Helm Crag, - “a fell topped by fascinating rock formations, the steep climb rewarded by grand views” - you can sit down and enjoy the Brew’s “array of mouth-watering cakes”.
The Rattle Ghyll, “tucked away in a quiet Ambleside alley”, serves up “tasty meat-free fare”. After a three mile walk to cross over the ancient stone arch of High Sweden Bridge, you can reward yourself with “a popular chilli full of pulses and vegetables” and feel suitably virtuous.
For those who would venture the five miles round Great Langdale there’s the Elterwater Cafe which will be pleased to supply both breakfasts and afternoon teas.
If you’re walking through the woods on the western shore of Windermere, there’s no better place to rest your weary feet than the Cafe in the Courtyard at the Claife viewing Station. “It’s a no-frills place” and their Ferryman’s Lunch is “served in re-cyclable cardboard containers”.
There’s an attractive walk along the disused railway line at Coniston completed by a return along the lake shore. In the busy little Bluebird Cafe you can lunch on jacket potatoes and pasta and salads.
You need to give yourself three hours to complete the five mile walk from the welcoming Croft House Farm Cafe on Buttermere. Those five miles will take you on “a varied walk taking in a lake-side path, a hidden valley and a low ridge with magnificent views” and at the end, you can eat and drink your fill at the cafe which offers “simple lunches and warming drinks”.
The Flock In at Rosthwaite offers pasties and stews made from the sheep pastured on their own farm. The Lingholm Kitchen near the shores of Derwentwater makes its own artisan bread and cakes.
The Watermill Cafe is always ready with that bowl of hot, warming soup on a chilly winter’s day, and, if you’re there in the summer months, you can sit in the garden and enjoy licking an ice-cream and watching the Caldbeck cricket team at play. The attractive “sylvan” walk will take you along the river to the Howk and along the lanes to the edge of the fells at Nether Row.
This is an attractively presented little guide. The ten pleasing walks take you through scenery that mixes the drama of the fells with the peacefulness of the wooded valleys and the lake shores. There are enticing photographs, clear maps, neat directions and a description of those all-important tea- shops.
What more could the sensible walker want?