10 short walks in the Lake District with tearooms

The Old Post Office Tearoom and Shop in Troutbeck
The Old Post Office Tearoom and Shop in Troutbeck

After the hustle and bustle of the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year, it’s lovely to return to the quieter months of January and February, and to return to finding enjoyment in some of life’s simpler pleasures.

And what could be simpler but more thoroughly enjoyable than a gentle Lake District walk followed by a leisurely pot of tea in a nice warm tearoom? If this idea appeals to you, here are some popular – and less well known – short walks with tearooms you may like to add to your list in the next few weeks and months. 

To avoid disappointment, do double-check opening hours of your café before setting off, as these can be reduced over Winter and during quieter periods – and I don’t want you to be disappointed! 🙂

A quick note on safety: Please bear in mind that the following descriptions are intended as a source of walking ideas, and are not written as comprehensive guides to each route. For details of each walk, please consult a map or other trusted source such as a walking guide – there are plenty of fantastic ones detailing most of these routes, available in local book shops and online. Even accessible and well-known footpaths can be extremely soggy and slippery at this time of year, so make sure you wear suitably sturdy, non-slip footwear too. 🙂

1. Friar’s Crag, Keswick

The bench at Friar's Crag
The view along Derwentwater from Friar’s Crag

This may be one of the most popular short walks in the Lake District, but that doesn’t make it any less special. The path to the viewpoint at Friar’s Crag is almost completely flat and, taking just 10 minutes or so, leads you from the Derwentwater foreshore in front of the Theatre by the Lake to this iconic view along the lake towards the ‘jaws of Borrowdale’. You can carry on down to neighbouring Strandshag Bay and complete a circular route, or return the way you came.

The café at the Theatre by the Lake
The Lakeside Café Restaurant at The Theatre by the Lake, Keswick

The Lakeside Café Restaurant is probably the most convenient place to stop afterwards, or you could wander into Keswick itself for a huge choice of tearooms, pubs and restaurants. Read more on the blog about the Friar’s Crag walk, and things to look out for while you’re there…

For route details, use this map from Miles without Stiles…. (external link)

2. Elterwater to Skelwith Bridge

Elterwater with footpath
The iconic view across Elterwater

This stunning walk leads you through picturesque scenery and woodland following the Great Langdale Beck, and eventually you’re treated to this well-known painter’s view across Elterwater. You can start this walk from Skelwith Bridge or Elterwater, with a café located at either end – Chesters by the River at Skelwith Bridge, and the Elterwater Café in Elterwater. Read more on the blog about the Elterwater to Skelwith Bridge walk…

Chesters by the River, Skelwith Bridge
Chesters by the River, Skelwith Bridge
The Elterwater Café
The Elterwater Café

For route details, use this map from Miles without Stiles… (external link)

3. Orrest Head, Windermere

The view from Orrest Head
The view from Orrest Head – well, one of many!

For a rather more invigorating walk uphill, with a rather rocky climb at the summit, you may like to visit the viewpoint at Orrest Head. The lake views from here are hugely rewarding, and, since I visited, you’ll apparently come across a wooden sculpture of the Gruffalo in the woodland too!

The sign at the beginning of the walk suggests this route will take 20 minutes, but in my experience it does take longer. Head back down to Windermere village, and you’ll find a huge range of cafés to choose from. Read more on the blog about a walk to Orrest Head…

4. Aira Force, Ullswater

A walk from the lower car park at Aira Force takes you through a Pinetum and on ascending pathways either side of the river to the waterfall, bridge, and a lower viewing platform. There are lots of steps on these paths, so it’s not an easy walk for some, but hugely popular! According to the National Trust, tourists first began to visit Aira Force 300 years ago, and in the 1780s the Howard family planted over half a million trees here, designing the pathways too. The National Trust tearoom can be found in the lower car park.

Aira Force’s National Trust profile… (external link)

The National Trust tearoom at Aira Force
The National Trust tearoom at Aira Force. This would have been a full shot, but one lady looked visibly horrified to be in my photo, and I can’t be that unkind! 🙂

5. St Bega’s Church, Bassenthwaite

St Bega's Church with Bassenthwaite in the background
St Bega’s Church with Bassenthwaite in the background

(In 2019, The Old Sawmill Tearoom opens for the season on 16th February.)

This picturesque walk leads from the car park at Dodd Wood, past historic Mirehouse house, and on to St Bega’s Church on the edge of Bassenthwaite. Pick a sunny day and this place is really special. I especially like this tearoom too!

For route details, use this map from Miles without Stiles… (external link)

The Old Sawmill Tearoom at Dodd Wood
Just savouring the taste of the delicious food I once had here… The Old Sawmill Tearoom at Dodd Wood

6. Wray Castle and Windermere lakeshore

Steps down to Windermere shore
Steps down to Windermere shore

The western shore of Windermere has a particularly appealing atmosphere, and the four-mile walk from Wray Castle to Ferry House (with return by boat) is especially popular. You can just take a short stroll, however, by dropping down from the castle to the lakeside and sticking to the shore near Wray, then returning the same way for a cuppa at the Kitchen Court Café at the castle (note: the castle itself is closed to visitors during the winter months, although the café remains open – see their website for opening times).

Alternatively (although I haven’t tried it for myself), Miles without Stiles suggest the following walking route… (external link)

Wray Castle
Wray Castle

7. Bowness-on-Windermere to Claife Viewing Station and the Café in the Courtyard

The view from Claife Viewing Station
The view from Claife Viewing Station

This is a very gentle stroll rather than a walk, but I like it because it takes in some fresh air, views, and something a little bit special – Claife Viewing Station, which was recently restored by the National Trust.

Start off from Bowness and walk round to the car ferry via the Glebe and Cockshott Point, and for just 50p each way as a foot passenger you can cross the lake for a ten-minute walk to the viewing station. There’s a lovely little pop-up café in the courtyard here too. Watch out, as some of the walk is on a narrow road, but it’s just a really pleasant experience, without being too demanding!

The Café in the Courtyard at Claife Viewing Station
The Café in the Courtyard

8. Troutbeck village

Troutbeck
Overlooking Troutbeck in spring

I only recently discovered that this lovely historic village, situated above the Troutbeck valley, has its own self-guided trail which allows you to explore the village’s beautiful heritage buildings, and stop for tea at a convenient central point. The trail is available from the tearoom for a small charge. Find out more about the self-guided Troutbeck heritage trail on the blog…

The Old Post Office Tearoom and Shop
The Old Post Office Tearoom and Shop

9. Sizergh Castle

Walking signposts at Sizergh
10 minutes to the Strickland Arms. That should make the walking to refreshment ratio about right… 🙂

The castle might be closed in winter, but the tearoom and surrounding walks remain open throughout most of the season. There are several routes from the car park, and details of these are available as a guide for a charge from the gift shop. If it’s warm enough, it’s especially pleasant to sit on the wooden veranda outside the tearoom. I can’t remember the specific route I took on a walk from the castle, but there’s an example on the National Trust website here (external link). Find out more about Sizergh Castle…

The café and veranda at Sizergh
The café and veranda at Sizergh

10. Stockghyll Force, Ambleside

The pleasing sight of Stockghyll Force when the leaves aren't on the trees
The pleasing sight of Stockghyll Force when the leaves aren’t on the trees

I visited Stockghyll Force last winter when it was quite boggy underfoot, but the falls themselves were a beautiful sight. It’s a steady climb uphill first on a narrow lane and later a footpath (about 20 minutes to the falls if walking at a moderate pace), and then you’ve an excellent choice of tearooms in Ambleside town itself. Read more about this splendid Victorian walk on the blog here…

Sticky buns at the Apple Pie in Ambleside
Sticky buns in one of the cafés in Ambleside – but which one? OK, I won’t be so cruel… they’re made by the Apple Pie. See you there!

Are you partial to a walk with a tearoom conveniently located at the end? Have you a favourite that you return to time and time again? If so, I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments at the end of the post.

5 Comments

  1. There are no doubt many more tearoom walks that I haven’t mentioned here, so do please suggest any I haven’t covered! 🙂

  2. Dr Brews, coffee and blues.
    I know it’s not a tea room but a new modern coffee shop has opened in Bowness on Windermere.
    It serves locally sourced food and features lots of home baking as well as the best coffee I’ve tasted in the lakes. The owners have created an atmosphere to compliment the other new businesses in Bowness
    Would be worth including in any features that are aimed at visitors from urban areas.

    • Thank you very much for your recommendation Paul – tea, coffee, all welcome! I’d not come across this coffee shop before, but I can see on Trip Advisor that it has many good reviews there too. I will definitely have to take a look next time I’m that way!

  3. Donnella Barratt

    Been to the Old Post Office at Troutbeck- gorgeous- had treacle tart and icecream- scrummy

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