The Lake District is one of my favourite places. So I was thrilled at the news that it’s the first UK national park to be designated a Unesco World Heritage site – for its culture as well as its glorious walks and uplifting landscape. From Wordsworth’s I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud to Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons, the Lakes have inspired some of our greatest writers and their words always resonate in my head when I’m there.
The area I know best is the Newlands Valley, a quiet, pretty valley five miles from the bustling town of Keswick. There’s nothing better to blow the cobwebs away than a brisk walk up Catbells, a picnic overlooking Derwentwater and the chance to marvel at the views to Bassenthwaite and beyond.
Beatrix Potter loved this part of the Lakes and some of her best-known books were inspired by her visits to the Lingholm Estate on the western shore of Derwentwater. Lingholm’s kitchen garden was her original inspiration for Mr McGregor’s garden in The Tale of Peter Rabbit and she wrote The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin at Lingholm too. Her illustrations of the squirrels sailing across the lake on rafts were inspired by walking along the shore at Derwentwater.
When we stayed in Newlands Valley last month we did our usual Catbells walk – but with a difference. Once we got down to Derwentwater we decided to pop into the new Lingholm Kitchen and Walled Garden for a cup of tea.
The place is exceptional – the best café in the area by a mile. In fact we liked it so much that we returned the next day for lunch – avocado on toast for me and rarebit for my husband. The staff are ultra-helpful, the café, with a 100ft glass wall looking towards Skiddaw, is stunning and you can even buy stylish pottery, toys, cards and paintings. We walked home in the sunshine afterwards but if you’re staying in Keswick you can catch the boat back from Lingholm’s own jetty.
The Lingholm Kitchen is a brilliant addition to this area – and if you’re looking for somewhere to stay it has a variety of top-notch holiday lets too.
The Lingholm Kitchen and Walled Garden, Portinscale, Keswick, CA12 5TZ.