Play Hard

A gastronome’s guide to Cumbria

Here’s everywhere you should eat in the Lake District

Written by High Life North
Published 09.06.2021

By Camille Allcroft

Travel is one of life’s greatest pleasures and, although our plans for exotic foreign escapes have been put on hold for what feels like forever, there’s still so much to discover a little closer to home.

One destination which is always enchanting is the Lake District and Cumbria, which has so much to offer – from ruggedly beautiful landscapes to gourmet dining and luxurious hotels.

Windermere and Ambleside

Right in the heart of the Lake District, Rothay Manor is a Grade II-listed boutique hotel, set in secluded grounds on the northern edge of Lake Windermere. Check into their indulgent Fairfield Suite and enjoy fine dining in the two-AA Rosette restaurant, or lounge by the woodburning stove in The Brathay Lounge after a relaxed meal. It’s worth noting the hotel is also dog-friendly, which is handy if you want to bring your canine companion to explore some of the incredible walks nearby, such as over Loughrigg Fell.

Kysty in Ambleside is an attractive option for lunch or dinner, serving casual dining made with seasonal ingredients from Head Chef Dan Hopkins – every meal reflecting Chef Patron Ryan Blackburn’s love of simplicity.

Ulverston and Levens

Those in the mood for something sweet should head to The Handmade Ice Cream Company in Ulverston. After years as a pastry chef, Steven Darvill decided to start making ice cream with only the finest ingredients – which exceptional results (we can vouch for how delicious they are!). And that’s before we start on the waffles, churros and sundaes he also serves up here, too.

Another charming place to stay and dine in the Lakes is The Hare & Hounds in Levens. A former coaching inn, which dates back to the 16th century, The Hare & Hounds offers a staycation with that real country feel – where cosy rooms and impressive menus filled with pub classics dominate.


Lovers of gastronomy should make a beeline to Cartmel, home to Simon Rogan’s renowned two-Michelin star restaurant, L’Enclume. Guaranteed to impress, make sure you book your table well in advance. Fancy somewhere a little more laidback but still exceptional? Wander further along the cobbled streets to try Rogan & Co, Simon Rogan’s decidedly more relaxed neighbourhood restaurant, spearheaded by by Executive Chef Tom Barnes.



While you’re in this neck of the woods, make time for a trip to Cartmel Village Shop and pay homage to the home of sticky toffee. To say these puds are decadent here would be an understatement. Oh, and before you leave, be sure to stop by Cartmel Cheeses for a selection of artisan cheese fit to grace any cheeseboard when you get back home.


A little off the beaten track, The Black Bull in Sedbergh is worthy of the detour – this elegant inn is within the Yorkshire Dales, but also on the edge of the Lake District (meaning the views are outstanding). Guests can expect a warm welcome from owners (and husband and wife team) Nina and James. Nina is also Head Chef and she creates stunning cuisine inspired by her Japanese heritage and European influences. There are some incredible walks across the sprawling Howgill Fells, which lie right on the doorstep of The Black Bull and, after a long walk, you can retire to your room with a glass or two from their impressive wine list.



Further north, the Pentonbridge Inn in Carlisle is a refined restaurant with rooms, serving menus filled with local produce – some of which is grown in their own kitchen garden. En route to Carlisle, stop at the award-winning Shap Chippy for a hearty portion of fish and chips, washed down with their own zesty ‘Shapple Juice’, made with locally-grown apples by Cumbrian Apple Juice. Shap is situated in the picturesque Eden Valley, where there are plenty of enchanting walks. Don’t miss a visit to the atmospheric, 12th century Shap Abbey either, which is looked after by English Heritage.


Now, has all that whet your appetite yet?

Fancy planning any rambling routes ahead of your visit? WalkLakes have plenty of inspo, as does the Lake District National Park website.

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