British Travel Journal
IN THE STARS
The snug villages and bottle- green fells of Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire have created a holy trinity of gastronomy and a veritable constellation of Michelin stars just waiting to be explored.
The snug villages and bottle-green fells of Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire have created a holy trinity of gastronomy and a veritable
constellation of Michelin stars just waiting to be explored
HISTORICALLY, THE PEAKS, dales and shimmering lakes of the north west have been the muse of artists, poets, writers and ramblers but now these bewilderingly beautiful regions boast some of Britain’s best restaurants and producers. Their internationally revered chefs and exquisite homegrown talent haven’t gone unnoticed, of course; Michelin has bestowed its coveted stars in all three counties and reviews have been glowing. The region’s top dining rooms have even been immortalised in BBC 1’s The Trip, which saw Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon tour the north west’s finest restaurants in satirical splendour.
The north is often considered the pulsating heartland of England. Here, you can chart the industrial – and musical – revolutions in vibrant, earthy cities such as Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool before striking out to the vast moorlands and quaint villages to the north.
Two Michelin-star Moor Hall in Aughton, boasts one of Lancashire’s most notable dining rooms and is a stone’s throw from Merseyside. Opened in 2017 following a complete renovation of the 16th century manor house, chef patron Mark Birchall combines local produce with modern techniques. Executive chef for nine years at world-renowned L’Enclume, which lies just up the road in the Lake District, it’s little surprise Mark has achieved such acclaim. While history imbues its design – cutlery rests on knife blocks made from medieval timber pegs discovered on the site – the seasons rule the kitchen pass; a working garden grows herbs and vegetables year-round, all meat is locally sourced where possible, and Moor Hall’s cheese room houses a vast selection of British and Irish varieties.
North east of Lancashire, the vast watercolour vistas of the Yorkshire Dales beckon. This is Bronte country; epic, moody and bewilderingly beautiful in equal measure, where mounding hillsides give way to wooded meadows and icy waterfalls.
After a hearty hike around Aysgarth Falls, take the weight off at Mill Race tea shop, where great hunks of homemade cake can be enjoyed near the rushing waters. The cosy tea room occupies Yore Mill, which was originally built in 1784, and overlooks the river by the Upper Falls.
If a more formal afternoon tea is preferred, familyrun Yorebridge House serves scrumptious homemade delicacies in its cosy lounges and is a stone’s throw from Wensleydale’s famous creamery. Alongside its individually styled, uber-romantic rooms, Yorebridge has also opened the only Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle Tasting Room in the UK, perfect for private dinners and champagne tastings.
It’s a short drive – or a more challenging cycle – to the historic town of Sedbergh at the foot of the mighty Howgill Fells. Once described by fell walker and author Alfred Wainwright MBE “like velvet curtains in sunlight and like silken drapes at sunset”, the fells dwarf the pretty town and are a magnet for walkers. The Black Bull, a recently renovated 17th century coaching inn, has 18 stylish rooms – each named after a local fell – while its restaurant is run by owner Nina Matsunaga and serves nose-to-tail dishes infused with her Japanese heritage.
Further south, on the border between Lancashire and Yorkshire, 350-year-old Hipping Hall holds a coveted Michelin star and is one of the The Trip’s famed alumni. Providing a perfect last stop before venturing into the UNESCO-listed Lake District, Hipping nestles at the foot of Gragareth, Lancashire’s highest peak. The restaurant’s devotion to local produce and seasonal dishes is astonishingly good, with head chef Oli Martin’s tasting menus almost solely championing produce from the hall’s three surrounding counties: Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cumbria. The fluffy homemade morning crumpets are enough to warrant your stay alone. Local through and through; even the walls of the 15th century dining room are painted with bespoke pigments created by local artists using minerals from within 15 miles of the property.
TOP OF THE LAKES
The Lake District’s reputation as a gastronomic hub is hardly surprising, given its ingrained farming culture, bountiful fresh produce and artisanal producers. On the edge of the national park and with a list of ‘top restaurant’ awards that could fill Coniston Water, L’Enclume in the pretty village of Cartmel is one of the world’s most revered restaurants. The two Michelin star establishment, which also starred in The Trip, is run by Simon Rogan who serves a 20-course tasting menu, with much of the produce grown in the 12-acre farm nearby. One Michelin-star Rogan & Co, its more relaxed sibling restaurant, is one road away and continues the celebration of Cumbrian ingredients. The charming village is also the home of the sticky toffee pudding – head to the Village
Shop for a pudding as good as it sounds. Or for more savoury tastes, head for the micro brewery and Cartmel Cheeses.
Near the shimmering waters of Lake Windermere, Gilpin Hotel & Lake House’s Michelin starred HRISHI serves Lake District and British produce with a difference, an Asian twist and flair for creativity. After dinner, guests can sink into cedarwood hot tubs, sleep in self-contained spa lodges, or plump for the Lake House where six luxury suites enjoy 100 private acres, including a lake, boat-house, hot tubs, pool and jetty spa.
Hug Windermere’s winding waterside road and head north to the picturesque village of Grasmere where more
scenic trails crisscross the sage and auburn-flecked fells and independent cafés pleasing hungry hikers. Kick off the walking boots at Lake View Country House, a boutique B&B overlooking restful Grasmere Lake. The B&B has private access to the lake and owners Paul and Beth Abbott have recently opened their Grasmere Brewery, housed in the farm buildings a stone’s throw from the water’s edge. The Good Sport gastro pub just along the lane serves as the brewery’s taproom where visitors can sample the ales and chat with Paul about his unique brewing process.
A great base to explore the northern reaches,
Lodore Falls sits in 40 tranquil acres on the shores of Derwentwater. The hotel’s lake view dining room is popular for Sunday lunch and the new spa bedrooms offer total relaxation teamed with spectacular views across Derwentwater and the Catbells Mountain range.
Replete and relaxed, whether you're a keen rambler, cyclist or simply a fanatical foodie, the north west is a pick n’ mix trail of chocolate-box villages, bewitching landscapes and awesome scenery with no wrong turns.