Take right track into heart of Lake District

PAUL OG­DEN by­passes the M6 by tak­ing the train to Win­der­mere – the per­fect base for ex­plor­ing The Lakes

Macclesfield Express - - TRAVEL -

A WEEK­END break in the Lake District with­out a car? Is it re­motely pos­si­ble? Isn’t half the fun of Lake­land get­ting lost down nar­row roads, re­vers­ing back up them again in front of an on­com­ing trac­tor and won­der­ing where in all this wilder­ness is a place you can ac­tu­ally park with­out pay­ing a hefty fee?

Well, you can al­ways leave the jam-packed tourist trail of the A591 be­hind and jump on the train.

It is a scenic one hour 50 min­utes or so from Manch­ester Pic­cadilly to Win­der­mere (well, once you get past Wi­gan), with a change at Ox­en­holme, in the very heart of The Lakes. And stay­ing in Win­der­mere Vil­lage it­self is a great base for those with or with­out their own trans­port.

There are good pubs and restau­rants, quirky shops, fell walks sur­pris­ingly close to hand and public trans­port on the lake it­self.

Win­der­mere Vil­lage and Bow­ness are, wrongly, of­ten seen as be­ing one con­tin­u­ous de­vel­op­ment.

If you want to feed the swans and eat your butties with the hoards, go to Bow­ness. If you want a more el­e­gant ex­pe­ri­ence in a still bustling but al­to­gether less fren­zied spot, head for Win­der­mere Vil­lage.

The vil­lage is much younger than its sis­ter set­tle­ment on the lake, chang­ing its name from Birth­waite and grow­ing rapidly after the rail­way from Ken­dal reached it in 1847.

There is a real Vic­to­rian and Cum­brian air about it - re­fined but not stuffy.

Which is much like the place we’re stay­ing in for the night, The Lamp­lighter Din­ing Rooms, a res­tau­rant with ac­com­mo­da­tion - and don’t for­get the so­phis­ti­cated bar.

Com­mand­ing a prime spot in the cen­tre of the vil­lage, over the road from the train sta­tion, and light­ing up a cold night with flam­ing heaters on its gen­er­ous ter­race, The Lamp­lighter is that happy medium be­tween a cramped B&B and soul­less tourist ho­tel.

Our per­fectly com­fort­able, char­ac­ter­ful room right at the top of the build­ing looked down the road into the heart of the vil­lage and we watched the passersby change from the GoreTex bri­gade to the smartly dressed night-out crowd as the moon rose in the clear sky.

We were lucky, we were up­stairs from the Win­der­mere Vil­lage’s must-visit bar - no wrap­ping up warm and ven­tur­ing out needed for a pre-meal cock­tail.

The Lamp­lighter’s lounge bar was re­vamped last sum­mer, with the ter­race spilling out of the stun­ning art deco room.

It is pretty as a pic­ture, classy and re­lax­ing. Don’t ask how much the hand-printed wall­pa­per cost, you will cough into your Ex­presso Mar­tini.

And you don’t want to do that. It was de­li­cious, as was my Rhubarb And Cus­tard cock­tail - Chase rhubarb vodka with a few spe­cial in­gre­di­ents and doused with pros­ecco.

Oh, and a cus­tard sweetie in a striped bag to whisk you back to your youth.

Ob­server food critic Jay Rayner gave The Lamp­lighter’s Sun­day Lunch the thumbs up in a re­view 18 months ago, and the stan­dard of the Satur­day night din­ner is high, too.

The place has been run by the Tasker fam­ily for more than 25 years and now is in the ca­pa­ble hands of Alis­tair (chef) and James (front of house), who worked at The Savoy, The Dorch­ester and Clar­idge’s be­fore re­turn­ing to the fam­ily ho­tel.

That longevity means the kitchen has had time to re­fine its list of tremen­dous sup­pli­ers of Cum­bria’s very best in­gre­di­ents from lo­ca­tions name-checked on the menu.

My Lake­land lamb rump was ex­cel­lent, with minted crushed pota­toes, horse­rad­ish car­rot and swede and minted jus, while over the ta­ble was an equally sub­lime Cart­mel Val­ley duck, with fon­dant potato, spiced beet­root puree and dam­son gin jus. Lake District on a plate.

The Lamp­lighter’s cheese­board is spec­tac­u­lar too. As well as the ubiq­ui­tous but al­ways wel­come Black­sticks Blue and Mrs Kirkham’s Smoked Lan­cashire, there was a creamy, sub­tle Ap­pleby Black Dub Blue and - the ex­cep­tion to the lo­cal rule - Five Mile Town Goat’s, an Ir­ish award­win­ning cheese.

But don’t go over the top at din­ner, a mere 12 hours later you have to tackle the Lamp­lighter break­fast.

My Eggs Bene­dict, with Cart­mel Val­ley smoked salmon and a won­der­ful hol­landaise, could have fed two of us.

Stoked with calo­ries, it was time to get the legs pump­ing with a short but en­er­getic hike up to Or­rest Head.

The trail is just over the road from The Lamp­lighter and is a brac­ing walk to the top. You don’t re­ally need walk­ing boots but it does get a lit­tle muddy.

On an ex­er­tion-to­ex­pe­ri­ence ra­tio, it is one of the most sat­is­fy­ing as­cents in the Lake District. In just 20-30 min­utes you are re­warded with a truly 360-de­gree panorama of the Lake District fells, More­cambe Bay and the Pen­nines.

At this time of year, the snow on the peaks is pic­ture post­card pretty.

Who needs a three­hour slog up Con­is­ton Old Man?

You can also walk down to the water­side at Bow­ness and jump on one of the boats sailed by Win­der­mere Lake Cruises, with des­ti­na­tions all around the lake.

Down in the vil­lage it was time to sit out­side one of the bi­jou cafes and sip a cof­fee after buy­ing some quirky pro­duce in the shops as we waited for the train home.

Hang on. I’m not driv­ing.

Swap that cof­fee for a few pints of Lake District ale on the ter­race of The Lamp­lighter.

An­other rea­son to leave the car keys be­hind.

Dave Wil­lis

The view over the Lake District fells and Win­der­mere from Or­rest Head

The Lamp­lighter in Win­der­mere

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.