Considering that it really is the middle of no-where; The Lake District is actually surprisingly vegan friendly.
Windermere is generally best avoided - it's where all the people who came to the lake district with no intention of doing any walking go. It's got a co-op, but that's where the vegan friendliness ends. Ambleside is mostly populated by people who intended to go walking, but instead went shopping for outdoor clothing they'll never use! It has a couple of vegetarian restaurants though (same owner) which both cater for vegans. Zeffirellis is the cheaper and in my opinion better option - Fellinis more expensive and less good. Keswick has the Lakeland Pedlar, which is my favourite cafe in the North of England - it also has some stunningly beautiful walks close by. Further afield is the Quince and Medlar, which is one of my favourite vegetarian restaurants in the UK. The Lake District has many great walks for even unfit people like me - the effort : impressive view ratio is the best in the country. I can highly recommend Buttermere, Catbells and Latrigg.
There's several vegetarian (friendly) B&Bs in the area, including Nab Cottage (stunning views of Rydal Water and cooked vegan breakfast, but terribly uncomfortable bed!) and Yewfield (not yet been, but website looks promising). Lancrigg's the only vegetarian hotel that I know of - I've stayed there a couple of times and visited their restaurant as a non-resident.
Lancrigg's location is excellent, though can be slightly confusing to find by car! It's walking distance from Grasmere in one direction (the gingerbread shop will claim it's vegan if you ask, but we've reason to believe they lie), Helm Crag and Easedale Tarn a leisurely walk in the other. The house itself dates from the 1600s, with former owners including William Wordsworth.
Decor is 1870s meets 1970s. There are several snotty reviews on TripAdvisor from people who disliked the interior design. Personally it doesn't really bother us, but it'd be good to update (rip out) the offending bathrooms and replace them with something more tasteful. One of the rooms (Kitty Crag) is offsite - a short walk through the grounds to the main house. I stayed there the first time and quite enjoyed the seclusion, views and cheaper rate. Again people who've unwittingly booked it have had a whinge (why visit The Lake District if you hate walking so much?!).
The room rate's not cheap, so it's worth signing up to their mailing list for news of last minute offers. We recently stayed 2 nights in Silver Howe - normally £396 for £195 on a last minute deal. The room is one of their best and has stunning views across the valley.
Food at Lancrigg is well above average and vegans well catered for. We were so underwhelmed by a meal at Fellinis one night that we opted for dessert at Lancrigg instead :)
Breakfast is 3 course: fruit or cereal followed by cooked or continental breakfast, then by toast & preserves. There's even a choice of 4 vegan suitable cooked breakfasts!
Full English - Burger, grilled tomatoes, sauted mushrooms and baked beans, served with wholemeal toast:
TLT - Seeded roll filled with marinated grilled tofu, lettuce, tomato and sunflower mayo:
Potato cake topped with sauteed muhrooms, served with grilled tomato and a green pesto:
All delicious! (though for ultimate gluttony I'd include tofu scramble, sausages and fried bread :)
Lancrigg's evening meals are excellent too, with 3 courses an extremely reasonable £20pp when booked with the room. Quality of ingredients, preparation and presentation is above average, though level of adventurousness is fairly old school vegetarian cooking - don't expect to see anything on the menu you've not had many times before elsewhere.
A few of the things we ate......
Chickpea & coriander falafels - with tzatziki, harrisa sauce & olive focaccia bread:
Mushroom & Brazilnut puff pastry roulade - with red onion gravy, seasonal vegetables & potato celeriac mash:
Chocolate espresso mousse with coconut sorbet:
The highlight of our stay however wasn't food related - it was waking up in a comfortable bed with sun streaming through the gap in the shutters and cool breeze:
As someone who usually hates net curtains with a passion, I'm now considering a set for our bedroom at home :)
I expect that we'll return to Lancrigg many times over the coming years (especially now we know that they're baby friendly).
If nothing changes and I get the same experience / level of service each time then I'll be quite happy. If at some point they give the place a slight update and get a bit more adventurous with the menu then it'll be a great bonus. In the meantime though I'm happy to recommend it to other vegans.
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