September 17, 2013

Ambleside & Grasmere: Our Summer Holiday, Part 2

Well I am finally getting around to posting the next part of my holiday blog. Our trip to the Lake District seems like a distant memory now that the warm summer days are gone and autumn has arrived with cold intent. It is nice to relive the memories though so here goes!

For our two week holiday we stayed in a beautiful cottage in Ambleside. It was an old gate lodge which used to be part of Rydal Estate and was at the beginning of a beautiful walk up to the old house.  

Park Gates Lodge, a Victorian gate keepers cottage, adj the footpath to Fairfield & Rydal Hall

Park Gates Lodge, a Victorian gate keepers cottage, adj the footpath to Fairfield & Rydal Hall on Holiday Lettings.

The only thing missing from the cottage was wifi so we would find ourselves every few days at the Apple Pie Cafe and Bakery. I was in love the moment I saw the name!!

This family owned  restaurant is set in the heart of Ambleside and does a roaring trade in pies, pasties, cakes, and sandwiches. If you weren't early enough there was no chance of getting your hands on their lovely doughnuts or bath buns!

Bath Buns
There was also an extensive lunch menu with a wide range of options such as the chicken tikka roll and a brie toastie pictured below. All the food here is freshly made and everything we ate was really filling and full of flavour. 

Chicken Tikka Roll

Brie and Veggie Toastie
On one of the evenings we walked from our lodge up past the old Rydal Hall and into the outskirts of Ambleside. Here we decided to have dinner in the Badger Bar.

Now I just thought that the restaurant had a quirky name like so many other places in England but I was delighted when the owners came over to tell us that they had thrown out the evening's veggies for the local badgers. Turns out that visiting badgers gave the place its name!! Don't think I have ever been that close to them.

Besides the badger novelty the bar did great English style food - pork scratchings, Cumberland sausage with mash and game stew.

Pork Scratchings
The main reason we travelled to the Lake District this year was for a friend's wedding. She and her fiance got married in a beautiful old church in Grasmere which dated back to the 14th century. While we were only there for a short time that day the village was definitely worth a trip back. The village is the final resting place for William Wordsworth and you can wander through the garden and visit his grave. You can also see how much you remember from the poem 'Daffodil'. I could only remember the first two lines unlike my friend who remembered the whole thing!!


Grasmere is also home to the world famous Sarah Nelson’s Gingerbread. The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop is tucked away at the corner of the churchyard of St. Oswald’s Church and you may have to queue to get in! It's a tiny little store and walking over the threshold is like taking a step back in time. The gingerbread itself was quite unlike any gingerbread I have had before. It was thin and crunchy but had a lovely gingery topping. 

 Grasmere Gingerbread Shop
We also ate lunch one afternoon in the nearby Swan Hotel which sits at the edge of the village. This was after the boyfriend had decided we were going to climb a mountain but then picked the most vertical climb I have ever had to do! Safe to say we were starving by the time we got back.

Himself went for the venison suet pudding while I decided on the John Ross Junior smoked salmon sandwich. You would definitely know that they cater for hungry hikers as my sandwich was more a sandwich and a half. It was a great sandwich but I think the winning dish of the two was definitely the pudding. We had never come across food like that in Ireland where we tend to have more pies but this was delicious. It was rich and gamey but the casing it was in was spongy and light and helped soak up all the juices. The meal here cost us £20 so it was perhaps a little on the more expensive side for lunch but it kept us going for the whole day.

Smoked Salmon Sandwich
Venison Suet Pudding, veggies and the obligatory glass of ale
Both Ambleside and Grasmere are well worth a visit. They are both beautiful villages with lots of history and plenty of things to see, eat and do. Most places in the villages, as you would expect, are well used to muddy hikers, children, dogs and buggies so there is no excuse to get out and about and then reward yourself with a lovely meal!

Ambleside at sunset

Check out
Conwy, Wales - Our Summer Holiday, Part 1 here.
Nolita Cantina - A day trip to Liverpool here

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