Windermere is a large lake in Cumbria’s Lake District National Park, surrounded by mountain peaks and villages, including Bowness-on-Windermere.
Windermere Marina Village enjoys a lovely spot on the sheltered shores of England’s most famous and largest of lakes. This marina was established over 25 years ago on a quiet inlet and can accommodate boats up to 50′, with a max draft of 3’6″.
The other wing to the marina’s bow is the ‘village’ of self catered cottages circling the marina, enjoying the spa and the Boathouse where visitors will find decent food and a lively bar in a modern, New England style with views from the deck that are beguiling, even if you cannot actually see Lake Windermere. These cottages are busy year round, with short stay and long weekend options.
Berth holders and residents have a short walk into Bowness-on-Windermere, the only village directly on the lake. We walked along the water’s edge, passing the boating station where you can catch the ferries to Windermere and Ambleside before heading up into the town.
The friendly team at the marina gave me a list of their favourites. We passed the cosy Italian, Villa Positano, which is reliable and traditional. Note, it is best to book.
Then we found Chocobar, which the kids are talking about. Quality, real drinking chocolate with churros on the side if you wish, this is a good breakfast stop. For lunch the girls favour the take out sandwiches from Taylors Deli, but I know most berth holders just slide into the Boathouse, with its wonderful sun trap deck that serves a good range of meals, favourites being the freshly made, thin blistered crust pizzas and the moules.
Lake Windermere itself has four boating clubs and there are a staggering 4,000 craft on the lake.
Many of the lake’s finest dining experiences are to be found in the hotels; all glorious park land, roaring fires, afternoon teas and late night bars.
But do not be put off by thinking they are all stuffy/country house hotel types. At the Gilpin Hotel, a couple of miles from the marina, you will find Michelin starred Hrishi Desai juggling wonderful new world fragrantly spiced meals, his influence being the spices landed at Whitehaven back in the rum trading/coal exchanging days.
Just beyond Gilpin Spice is the Wild Boar, a cosy, low white-washed pub well known for quality meat, sometimes smoked on site. To add some steam to the smokery is a new microbrewery, turning out a range of beers, from a punchy IPA to a lighter blonde for those summer hiking days.
Now we need to reach wider to track down some real beauties on the coffee, bread and cafe front, so I cast my Twinstagram net and reeled in the following:
The More? bakery HQ is on an intriguing industrial site called Mill Yard, in Stavely near Kendal. Patrick More set this busy bakery up some years ago and is always pushing new products and maximizes local products, like my beloved damson, which can be found inside their rich fruit cake. The range of sausage roll fillings is weird and wide.
But over at Plumgarth Farm Shop we found a butcher, baker and delightful cake maker, along with Lovingly Artisan, started by sour dough enthusiast Aidan Monk. This is an excellent destination to fill the car and is conveniently situated just off the main A591 into Windermere.
Homeground, in Windermere. is run by Jane and Rich Metcalfe and offers a good choice of regular and guest coffees. Samantha (from the marina) loves their Eggs Benny and Rebecca heads straight for the waffles. It is a convivial café with wood burner/sofa area, great cakes and scones and is the well deserved winner of Cumbria Life’s Best Café Award 2016.
This has to be Chesters By The River – the open wood fired oven, incredibly imaginative vegetarian options and wonderful home made doughnuts, ensure a steady queue for a table here, overlooking the river at Skelwith Bridge, between Ambleside and Elterwater. There is also a fab shop attached selling all manner of exciting homeware, gifts and food. Well worth the visit.
The big night out?
For food I would head for Gilpin Spice, for Sunday lunch the Punch Bowl Inn at Crosthwaite and for romance, probably the Forest Side Hotel, Grasmere.
The Crafty Baa has recently roamed into town and the Bowness locals are enjoying some craft ales.
I cannot really do justice to this area in one column, as Grange-over-Sands and Cartmel, down in the southern lakes can boast the best pies, sticky toffee puddings and the much revered l’Enclume restaurant.
It is a beautiful spot, but my favourite area is still around Elterwater and Grasmere – and there is a lovely, simple walk from the Brittania Inn over to Grasmere. Just time to pick up the gingerbread and have a great coffee and sausage roll from the take-out kiosk called Lucia’s.
There is some great young talent in the kitchens here in Cumbria.
Five miles, starting or finishing from the Brittania Inn or Chesters on the River at Skelwith Bridge. Go for breakfast at Chesters, have a pint at the Brittania and back to Chesters in time for cake
With thanks to Josh from SLAM, Dan, Rebecca and Sam at Windermere Marina Village and to the cosy bar at the Derby Arms.
Penny’s Blog: hopshikesandbites.blogspot.co.uk