The Borrowdale Valley is rich in craggy mountainous scenery, packed into just a few square miles. It is paradise for dogs with streams to charge through, plenty of mountains to climb and miles of paths to run along. There are three small settlements and a handful of other buildings scattered through the valley and it is always handy to know where you and your dog will be welcome after a walk. We have plenty of pet friendly cottages in the Lake District so it would be a shame if your dog couldn't come to the pub too!
The Lodore Falls Hotel must be the most recognisable building in the Borrowdale valley. It is situated near the edge of Derwentwater with an impressive craggy backdrop, and of course the famous waterfall. Whilst you can’t take your dog in the restaurant, the hotel is dog friendly and as long as your dog is not soaking wet or too muddy, you are welcome to go in the lounge.
Just down the road from the Lodore is the Borrowdale Hotel, an imposing slate building with a warm and welcoming interior. The comfortable lounge bar is dog friendly.
The Shepherd's Cafe at High Lodore Farm is a perfectly located mecca for climbers. The rather lovely spot at High Lodore is just beneath some of the most famous crags in Borrowdale, if not the entire Lake District. You will be greeted with cheap and cheerful food, pint mugs of tea and fabulous full English breakfasts. Most of the seating is outside but there is a small area of seating under cover. Dogs welcome throughout but to be kept on a lead as the tea garden is right on the road and the lawn is full of toys for children to play on.
Mary Mount is a relaxed establishment, the first as you enter Borrowdale. You can eat outside on the picnic benches or in the charming bar with your dog. A beautiful view of Derwentwater and Maiden Moor is virtually guaranteed. The menu is not extensive, but then it doesn’t need to be as all the dishes are well prepared and great value.
The recognisable tearoom just over the bridge in Grange has a beautiful tea garden right on the riverbank. Dogs are welcome in the garden. Just round the corner is the Grange Café that sells traditional snacks and sandwiches and you can sit outside with your dog. When the weather is less than kind you can sit under the veranda.
Rosthwaite’s main hotel is the Scafell Hotel. It has a formal restaurant or the Riverside Bar. Both offer a Cumbrian menu of local game, trout, sausages and so on, but the Riverside also serves more prosaic burgers and chips.
Also in Rosthwaite and just next door to the Scafell Hotel is the Royal Oak Hotel, its eponymous oak right by the front door. Whilst the Royal Oak doesn’t serve lunch or dinner to non residents, it does serve a very memorable cream tea in the afternoon. Dogs are welcome in the bar and lounge.
The Flock-Inn is a pleasant little tearoom on a popular featuring local Herdwick lamb in stews and burgers. The homemade cakes are sublime, particularly the Borrowdale Teabread. There is also a shop within the tearoom where you can buy Herdwick wool, meat and decorative mugs. There is a large veranda with plenty of seats at the rear of the tearoom where you can sit with your dog.
The Youth Hostel at Longthwaite has probably the best value menu for miles. Cake and a hot drink for £2.50, picnic benches outside and a lovely riverside location. It is an overlooked gem for hungry walkers.
The Langstrath is a lovely old inn is very popular with walkers thanks to its plentiful outdoor seating and being situated on the famous coast to coast route. The lunch menu is aimed at hungry walkers with crusty baguettes, chunky soups with thick slices of bread and generous sharing platters. The Langstrath is dog friendly throughout but it’s handy to know that they close on a Monday.
Along the lane from the Langstrath Inn there is a small end terrace cottage where you can step into the porch to their serving counter inside. There is a high shelf packed full of second hand paperbacks, a fridge full of cold drinks and a counter top of homemade flapjacks, tray bakes and chocolate bars.
The busy start point for Scafell Pike, Great Gable and others is from the farm at the end of the valley road. An out-building on the farm has recently been converted to Jake’s Snack Shack. Although I haven’t managed to sample their menu yet, all reports sound good. There are plenty of picnic benches outside.
Now the slate mine at Honister is not really in Seatoller, but it is at the top of the pass from the village so for the purposes of this article, I am counting it as the terminating point of Borrowdale. The picnic benches are lovely and a fine spot to sit with your dog. On a sunny day you can enjoy being in the midst of the fine mountain landscape, scarred with the relics of the mining past. You can get a great big mug of tea from the serving hatch, dogs are allowed in the shop.
Of course Borrowdale is simply magical for a picnic. There are several boulders, patches of grass and tree stumps where I like to park myself for half an hour and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the valley. My favourite spots include the riverbank at Stang Dub near Rosthwaite. There is also a fab little patch of grass downstream from Black Moss Pot in Langstrath. I also have a favourite boulder under Castle Crag but I am afraid dear reader, I am not sharing that with anyone!
You can pick up your picnic supplies from Keswick. We recommend:
Booths is a regional chain where you can pick up an eclectic selection of regional foods.
Brysons is the place to go for bread, Thomasons for a pie or cold cut of meat. The Keswick Cheese Deli is simply heaven. A huge array of cheese, shelves and shelves of chutney, savoury biscuits galore and a great choice of olives, pates and cured meats.
On Saturday, market day is the best place to pick up anything from a curry to potted shrimp.