Bright Lights

For Bon Vivants...

Lyth Valley Country Inn

Valley views are at the heart of the experience at this gorgeous restaurant with rooms. Drink beer from the Winster Valley Brewery and eat food from the region before bedding down in one of nine lovingly designed rooms before doing it all again tomorrow. 

The Gilpin, Windermere

Hrishikesh Desai is this country house hotel's secret weapon. He's the executive chef in their contemporary fusion restaurant Spice and head chef at their Michelin-starred Hrishi. His dishes are sometimes surprising, often playful and always ridiculously delicious.  


The Moon Highgate, Kendal

Perfectly executed and seasonal food is the order of the day in this new high-end Kendal boozer. Head chef and owner Leon Whitehead takes pride in sourcing the finest of ingredients from across Cumbria to create comforting and elegant dishes that will have you coming back for more. 

Wabi Sabi, Ambleside

The wasabi comes freshly grated tableside at this dinky spot that takes its Japanese cooking very seriously. Rumoured to be a favourite amongst local off-duty chefs - always a good sign - they serve sushi platters and tasting menus with an optional sake flight. Noodles are made from scratch and the chicken broth is quickly becoming the stuff of legend.      

The Churchmouse, Barbon

Taste Cumbria describe this small cheeseshop and cafe as a "destination village shop". And they're right - you'd most certainly travel for husband and wife team John and Jules Natlacen's perfectly selected local cheeses. Drop in for your weekly dairy haul and stay for a lemon drizzle made by Sue from the village in the cafe or for the Friday night bistro.  

1863 Bar Bistro Rooms, Ullswater

What was once a blacksmiths and post office in the village centre of Pooley Bridge is now a perfectly executed boutique hotel and bistro. Chef Phil Corrie prides himself on attention to detail - butter is made in-house using cream from nearby Abbott Lodge's Jersey herd, dishes come with wine by the glass suggestions. 

Foxborough, Carlisle

Cumbria isn't the first place you'd look for a US-style smokehouse and barbecue joint. But Foxborough has been winning over Carlisle locals since it opened and has won the Carlisle Living Best Restaurant trophy for two years in a row. The restaurant's Green Egg smoker ensures that dishes are imbued with a smoky authenticity. Don't miss the Pork Belly Chop. 

Chesters by the River, Ambleside

Every edible offering at this terrace spot overlooking the waterfall at Skelwith Force is made and baked on site. You'll find zingy salads, exemplary pies and tarts and cakes that have people travelling from far and wide. Having gone vegetarian last year, this is a great place to celebrate the joys of veg.   

The Crossing Point Cafe, Kirkby Lonsdale

This informal cafe truly is a labour of love from couple John and Renata Strange. Their mantra is "underpromise and overdeliver" so never underestimate what this snug home from home can do. You'll find hand-blended house tea varieties, pop-up guest chef evenings and a customer-favourite wild venison burger. Their Waitrose Good Food Guide listing is well deserved.

The Dog and Gun Inn, Skelton

At the end of last year chef Ben Queen-Fryer and his wife Lizzie got exactly what they wanted for Christmas - a shiny new pub. The village of Skelton were also pretty chuffed to see their beloved boozer re-opened, and by locals who source all of their food and drink from the surrounding area. Ben makes everything - from pasta to stocks - from scratch and the results are ambitious but accessible.    

For Your Reading Pleasure...

Don’t Skip Out on Me by Willy Vlautin manages to be a heart-warming study of loneliness. It's a great way to remind yourself of the importance of human connection.   

Twin Magazine is a large and glossy feast of art and fashion with a strong aesthetic identity and a sense of fun. 

Ruby Tandoh's Eat Up is a rip-roaring celebration of enjoying what you eat - an anecdote-filled and sweeping antitode to the often-damaging cult of wellness.

For Time Travellers: Kendal...

Baba Ganoush has a touch of the Ottolenghis about it. Generous and vibrant counter displays of creative salads and drool-inducing cakes are just a clue to all of the excitement that their cafe menu has to offer.   

Cafe Olive is a recent addition to Stramongate's offerings. They provide an endlessly appealing Meditteranean take to lunchtime, with mezze platters, seasonal salads and inventive teas.

Castle Dairy is a fine dining restaurant with a price tag that you can most definitely afford thanks to its apprentice academy status. Come here to try the ambitious dishes of future culinary stars.   

Staff of Life is a tiny bakery founded in 1997 by Cumbria Life columnist Simon Thomas. Head here for creative options like damson sourdoughs and caraway ryes. Their bread-making courses are also a joy.