Following almost 40 years in the family business of Wilsons Kendal Mint Cake, Andrew Wilson and his wife, Fiona, had the opportunity of doing something they had talked about for many years, namely to open a branch of the Cocoa Bean Children’s Chocolate Workshop in the Lake District. They had known the owners of the Cocoa Bean for many years and had been inspired by their friends' journey from home-based business to a visitor attraction welcoming over 300,000 people every year!
Following a frantic few months at the start of 2016, Andrew and Fiona found suitable premises in Hawkshead (where Fiona had already traded for over 19 years at the Honeypot Delicatessen). They took over the building on the 19th of May 2016, stripped it to a shell and worked hard rebuilding, rewiring, re-plumbing. After exactly one month of toil and dedication, they created Cocoa Bean in Hawkshead in the South East Lake District, opening on the 19th of June.
Early in 2018, by mutual agreement, they decided to “de-franchise” from The Cocoa Bean and became The Chocolate Factory Hawkshead. It took a few months, but in September 2018 they had a bright new look and were ready to start welcoming visitors. Since then, this small business has become more and more popular, welcoming both new and repeat customers since opening their doors.
For the Kids
The core of the attraction is a children’s chocolate workshop where children choose a shape of their choice to make into a wonderful chocolatey creation. There are plenty of options including cats, bears, trains, dinosaurs, cars, planes and bunnies and at Christmas there are lots of festive options, too: snowmen, stars, Christmas trees and even Father Christmas! They create their own chocolate bar by mixing milk chocolate and white chocolate, decorate it with sweets, and then have their own name piped in chocolate on the bar, so no cheeky siblings can snaffle it for their own! Finally, they make a marshmallow, chocolate and sweetie creation, just in case they haven’t had enough chocolate! The fun doesn't end there, either: there is also face painting (with chocolate, of course!), the chance for an extra squirt of chocolate directly into their mouth, and a gift bag to take home with all their handmade goodies, plus their very own apron and hair net!
These fabulous workshops run seven days a week, on the hour from 10am until 3pm, and until 4pm during the school holidays. If the whole family wants to get involved, there's also a family workshop at 10am every day, plus an extra one at 4pm during holidays. Guests with Sally's Cottages even get a special discount!
For the Adults
Sweet-toothed adults, never fear! If you're desperate to give this a go, but don't have any kids to bring along, you can enjoy the fun, too. For groups of eight or more, there are adult truffle and Prosecco evening that are ideal for hen parties, team building, birthday groups, or even a day of fun, just because!
Beyond the Workshops
If you would love to take something home with you, then the shop offers over 100 different varieties of loose chocolates and confectionery products that are unique and not available anywhere else! Andrew, Fiona and their team are always creating more and more unique chocolates on site: you can watch the chocolates being made and then go ahead and buy them straight out of the store! There is also a selection of Hawkshead Chocolate Company products to be found at various shops across the Lake District so, if you can't make it to Hawkshead, you can still find something deliciously local and sweet!
You'll find yourself in chocolate heaven at the Chocolate Café, which offers all sorts, including speciality hot chocolates, fondues, a mouth-watering array of treats, and even a large chocolate fountain. Yum!
Andrew and Fiona have put a lot of love and commitment into making a wonderful and unique day out. Add it to your list of things to do when you're staying at one of our holiday cottages in the South East Lake District, and don't forget to get your special discount to the chocolate factory once you've booked your cottage!
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This is a guest blog written by Andrew and Fiona from The Chocolate Factory Hawkshead. You can visit their website to book your fabulous experience.