The Borrowdale Valley is rich in craggy mountainous scenery, packed into just a few square miles. There are three small settlements and a handful of other buildings scattered through the valley but whether you are seeking a posh dinner, a picnic bench and a mug of tea or a traditional lunch near our cottages, then there will be something for you in Borrowdale.
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. The Lodore has several dining options, something to suit every taste. The Lake View restaurant is perfect for a special occasion or celebration, with its smart dress code, amazing views and gorgeous pre-dinner canapés. The lounge bar is less formal and suitable for walkers. You can sample lunches, afternoon tea and a wide range of drinks in the comfortable lounge, which benefits from spectacular views over the lake.
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 and elegant restaurant offer a variety of dining options as well as the conservatory, ideal for taking afternoon tea. Do not miss the exquisite wine cellar, which you can tour prior to taking your seat at dinner.
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.
The first establishment as you enter Borrowdale is the Mary Mount Hotel. Whether you eat outside on the picnic benches or in the charming bar you will be guaranteed a beautiful view over Derwentwater and Maiden Moor. The menu is not extensive, but then it doesn’t need to be as all the dishes are well prepared and great value. I recently had the scampi with home made tartar sauce and it was top notch.
Grange Bridge Cottage Tea Rooms is a famous recogniseable view in Grange that most visitors will be familiar with. Their garden is right on the riverbank and has the most beautiful views of the surrounding fells and the pretty double humped bridge.
Just round the corner is the Grange Café, and personally, my favourite. It sells simple traditional snacks and sandwiches. Rather handily, they also stock maps, guide books and mars bars!
The Borrowdale Gates Hotel is a stylish and picturesque hotel. The menu is fairly adventurous and is ideal for a special treat. The Borrowdale Gates serves an excellent Sunday lunch and evening meals, open to non-residents.
Between Grange and Rosthwaite is the Leathes Head Hotel. It has a beautiful conservatory, lounge and bar, all of which are open to non residents. The newly landscaped Japanese garden is a nice spot for taking afternoon tea. The hotel has an AA rosette and you need to book in advance.
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.
The Flock-Inn is a pleasant little tea room that gains top marks for humour with its ‘ewe-nique men-ewe’ (their words not mine!) featuring local Herdwick lamb in stews and burgers. The cakes are heavenly, particularly the Borrowdale Teabread. There is also a shop within the tearoom where you can buy Herdwick wool, meat and decorative mugs. The Flock-In sells the best flapjacks in Borrowdale!
Tucked away over the river from Rosthwaite is Hazel Bank, a charming country house built in the 1800’s and lovingly maintained every since. Tables for dinner must be booked in advance and it is a very unique environment in which to enjoy a meal. The dining room looks out on to the fellside garden, visited by deer, rabbits, pheasants and red squirrels.
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 evening menu is extensive and well thought out with some intriguing twists on traditional favourites.
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.
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. 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 or step inside to sample the full menu.
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!
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.