It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me well that one of my favourite pastimes is to while away some time in a cafe. Whether it be a rainy day retreat, a place to work with background noise, or somewhere for a drink and to relax after being out in the hills – finding a good cafe is one of my guilty pleasures in life.
My criteria for a favourite cafe is simple – a good cuppa (tea of course – and plentiful), good quality food and a selection of cakes (with gluten free options), nice environment, fab service and great atmosphere.
With that in mind, I thought I’d share 10 of my favourite cafe stops when I’m spending time in the outdoors around Yorkshire, the Peak District, the Lake District and Wales.
Ok…..in no particular order:
Outside Café and Shop
Hathersage, Peak District: @OutsideShop www.outside.co.uk
This is the café where many years ago, I remember having breakfast with this mad group of people I’d just met the night before – the ones who first persuaded me to go for a day climbing with them and thus gave me a new sport which became part of my lifestyle ever since. That day was my first visit of countless since and I always equate being here with great memories.
During the days when I climbed lots on gritstone, it was always a pre-climb breakfast stop, or a place to warm up with a hot chocolate after a winter’s day at the crag.
Visiting the Outside café combines browsing and shopping for outdoor gear with big mugs of tea and a great breakfast, huge cakes and bowls of chips. They also run occasional evening events – talks and book launches, with wine and nibbles.
The only downside to the Outside café, one of my all time favourites, is the lack of gluten free cake and no outdoor seating for sunny days, but still, it keeps me coming back.
Photos provided by Outside
Rattle Gill Café
Ambleside, Lake District: @rattlegillcafe www.facebook.com/rattlegillcafe
I only discovered this café, tucked away off the main Ambleside streets, around a year ago. Since then, it has become my first choice for a café stop in the town.
Rattle Gill has incredible vegetarian food, gluten free options, friendly banter and an option of a tasting platter of cakes if you can’t decide which one of the temptations you want to go for.
I love calling in here on my way home after a few days in the Lakes and ordering a second pot of tea so that I can soak up the relaxed atmosphere before getting on the motorway home. Actually, I just love calling in here – full stop!
Photo provided by Rattle Gill Cafe
Town End Farm Shop and Café
Airton, Yorkshire Dales: @TownEndAirton www.townendfarmshop.co.uk
Ok, first things first, I have to declare an interest here – Town End is run by two of my oldest friends from childhood. However, regardless of personal interest, this café is more than worthy of a place on my list.
Town End is a café with a view and I love sitting on the sofa by the big picture window or outside on the patio, looking down the valley towards Malham Cove.
Tea is plentiful, meals are lovely (often with ingredients from the Farm Shop), breakfasts are filling (ask for a Wendy special), cakes are homemade and there are gluten free options readily available.
It’s one of those places that I can just sit and chill out, lose time and enjoy relaxing.
With off road parking and plenty of outdoor space, it’s a popular place for a variety of customers – from groups of cyclists out for a long bike ride in the Dales, to tourists, farm shop visitors and local residents.
Photos provided by Town End Farm Shop and Cafe
Bank View Café
Langsett, South Yorkshire: @BankViewCafe www.bankviewcafe.co.uk
If you saw any of the media from the Tour de France 2014 Grand Depart in Yorkshire, you might recognise Bank View Café from some of the pictures (it was on the Day 2 route and the owner painted the outside of the café with red polka dots).
Bank View has been a well loved haunt of mine for a few years – from the early days when it was a tiny café through to the expanded version of today.
The chips served here are some of the best I’ve had in a café, so whenever I want one of my favourite comfort foods (egg and chips), I go for a walk around Langsett Reservoir (see my previous article here) and then finish it off with a late lunch at Bank View.
At weekends, especially in winter, it can be hard to find a place to sit here – always the sign of a great café.
Photos provided by Bank View Cafe
Llanberis, Wales: @petesllanberis www.petes-eats.co.uk
Pete’s Eats has been an institution for years (I think 1978 to be precise). The local Llanberis climbing scene has always had a strong association with the café and I always knew it as a place with big mugs of tea and even bigger portions of food (I always struggled to finish a meal, even after a day out in the mountains).
With snapshot photographs all over the walls, you can lose yourself looking through them for hours. It’s been a while since I was last in Llanberis, but in more recent modernisations I remember the extended café having showers, reading room, impressive worldwide map library (pure bliss for people like me who love staring at maps), computers with internet, sleeping accommodation, book exchange….and more.
Pete’s has a great atmosphere and is always on my list of places to visit when I’m in the town!
Photo provided by Petes Eats
High Nelly’s Café
Tideswell, Peak District: (unable to find online presence)
This is a new addition to my list as it only opened recently. However, after just one visit, it was destined to become a firm favourite!
High Nelly’s serves big pots of tea and has an array of fantastic looking cakes, gluten free options and Scandinavian style sandwiches on the menu.
Tideswell is one of the villages I have to pass through between home and Cheedale, so I can see High Nelly’s becoming a regular haunt as time goes on!
Dales Bike Centre
Swaledale, Yorkshire Dales: @DalesBikeCentre www.dalesbikecentre.co.uk
With a weekly “Friday Showstopper Cake”, great breakfasts, lovely meals, fab cakes and tea pots which seem to deliver endless cuppa’s, that would be enough for me to recommend the café at the Dales Bike Centre in its own right.
However, add in stunning scenery, fabulous mountain bike trails, great accommodation and 24 hour cake access when you’re staying overnight and well, it’s really a no brainer!
Photos provided by the Dales Bike Centre
Staveley, Lake District: @wilfscafe www.wilfs-cafe.co.uk
Set just off the A591 between Kendal and Ambleside, Wilf’s is usually a stop off when we’re travelling to or from the Ambleside area.
With a riverside setting and lots of different seating areas, the café serves fabulous food and has daily specials listed. They cater well for gluten free diets and I love to call in for lunch or a cake.
I’ve heard that there is some great mountain biking in the area, so one day the visit there won’t just be an en-route stop off!
Photo provided by Wilfs Cafe
Hassop Station Café
Hassop, Peak District: @HassopStation www.hassopstation.co.uk
Set on the Monsal Trail (an old railway line which goes through Cheedale, my all time favourite area of the Peak District), visiting the Hassop Station Café is always a treat.
With a pay and display parking for the Monsal Trail, book shop, ice cream parlour and café serving fabulous food and great cakes (with lots of gluten free choice), there is plenty to attract visitors. Therein lies the downside to this café – it attracts huge crowds!
However, I love visiting here so much that I’m still more than happy to work it into my walk or mountain bike ride in the area and on the times which I hit a quiet patch, it’s pure bliss.
The Square Orange
Keswick, Lake District: https://www.facebook.com/TheSquareOrange
The Square Orange is a café bar with a great atmosphere, located just off the main market place in Keswick.
I love calling in for a pot of tea, or early evening beer/wine after a day of fresh air. For a quick snack, there are cakes along with evening tapas and pizza.
My only gripe is that there is not so much gluten free choice, but I’m prepared to ignore that because I love being there so much – especially a mid-week late afternoon in winter when the sky has grown dark, armed with a pack of playing cards.
The ultimate chill out.
Photos provided by The Square Orange
So there you have it, 10 cafés where you are highly likely to come across me if I’m ever in the area.
I’m reliably informed by my husband that most of the places on the list serve really great coffee, but as a die-hard tea drinker, I’m not able to comment!
Choosing just 10 places from such a wide geographical area has meant missing off loads more lovely places which I regularly visit, but in the interests of keeping this article to a sensible length, I figured a cut off of 10 was advisable.
However, I’m always on the look out to try a new café so let me know if I’ve missed off one of your firm favourites!