How to plan the Ultimate Valentine’s Day Food Tour of the Lake District
The foodie scene in Cumbria has justifiably become internationally renowned over the last few years, making the Lake District one of the country’s most desirable destinations for fine dining.
That breadth of choice, along with the awe-inspiring scenery on all sides, means this is perhaps the ultimate place for a Valentine’s Food Tour.
Here’s our Simplexity Travel Managers’ guide to how to plan a Valentine’s Day that will get hearts beating faster, and stomachs rumbling with anticipation.
There are a number of spectacularly scenic drives through the Lake District as you can probably imagine, but a few of the best include the journey from Ambleside to Ullswater via Keswick, a route which has several connections with the poet Wordsworth, and the drive from Keswick to Buttermere via Borrowdale, taking in valleys, lakes and mountain passes. Both routes are under 50 miles, and we recommend keeping a picnic rug and a chilled bottle of wine in the car just in case the mood takes you.
Where to eat
No list of the best eateries in the Lake District would be complete without a mention of L’Enclume in Cartmel. This Michelin-starred restaurant has imaginative lunch and evening menus which take natural inspiration from the surrounding countryside - think locally-sourced fish and lamb (often from chef Simon Rogan’s own farm), and foraged vegetables. Reservations are vital, and our Travel Managers can organise this for you.
The Samling, near Lake Windermere, is a multi-award-winning destination restaurant that ticks an awful lot of boxes as far as we’re concerned. Their kitchen garden swaps seeds with some of the world’s best restaurants, so the produce on your plate may have been pulled from the ground just a few yards away, but it has global routes. The restaurant has a development kitchen where the team are constantly devising innovative new dishes, and you can choose from lunch or evening dining, a tasting menu or afternoon tea.
Sure, there are plenty of Michelin-starred restaurants to get your appetite ticking over, but the Lake District also has many superb traditional country pubs where you can expect good hearty meals next to blazing log fires. One which deserves a mention is surely the Drunken Duck, a handsome old inn set above Ambleside. The food is excellent and, although it’s not haute cuisine, the commanding views are enough to elevate even the most simple dish.
There are also plenty of upscale cafes and tearooms to consider in the Lake District, such as Gillam's in Ulverston. Family-run since the 19th century and set adjacent to its own specialist grocery, this convivial place offers tasty delicacies on a regional, seasonal menu complimented with a sterling range of organic wines.
Modern Great British cuisine is showcased at the Ilex Brasserie at Holker Hall & Gardens. Sip a fresh cocktail before lunch, then after dining you can explore the breathtakingly beautiful gardens of this majestic stately home. Rest assured there are plenty of nooks and crannies for couples to find some alone time.
Lastly, for something a little less formal but no less enticing, it’s worth trying to get a table at the always-popular Jumble Room in pretty Grasmere. The relaxed atmosphere belies the attention to detail that has been paid to the menu, on which the Thriller in Manila, pan-seared chicken with fresh seafood and summer vegetables, is a highlight.
Where to stay
There’s no shortage of luxurious and romantic accommodation in the Lake District. You’ll want seclusion of course, and perhaps either a woodland or lakeside setting with views. The Coach House Suite at highly regarded Cedar Manor features private AA-class dining and a spa bathroom with designer toiletries. Valentine’s Day is fast-approaching though, so whether you’re looking for a bubbling jacuzzi, a four-poster bed, elegant antique furnishings or chic minimalism, now is the time to book.
Our Simplexity Travel Managers will help make your romantic break that little bit more special with our knowledge and organisation expertise. Speak with us on 0203 535 9290 or contact us online.