Cafe Culture

Perfect Days in Allerdale

What is your perfect day in Allerdale?

Since 2020 Allerdale Borough Council has held an annual competition giving anyone in the UK the potential to ‘win’, their perfect day in the Allerdale area. A walk in the fells with their dog followed by lunch at a country pub is definitely a firm favourite for many, although we have been inspired by the wide range of locations and diverse activities that are close to the hearts of our visitors. 

The short films and itineraries below capture the ‘perfect days’ of some of our competition entrants. We hope that you too take inspiration from their perfect days for your next visit to Allerdale.

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Kathy and Dan

The winner of last year’s Perfect Day competition was Kathy George. Kathy’s entry to the competition was an Instagram reel which featured all of her favourite places in the former Allerdale area.

Kathy’s winning entry can be seen here: Visit Allerdale Instagram

Kathy’s prize was a fun-filled day out, featuring an off-road vehicle experience and ghyll scrambling in Keswick, an evening meal in Workington, and an overnight stay in Borrowdale.

Cumberland Council would like to thank last year’s competition sponsors; The Leathe’s Head Hotel in Borrowdale, Alp Kit, Newlands Adventure Centre, Lake District Off-road, Cyclewise and the Tithe Barn in Cockermouth.


Leathe’s Head Hotel, Bassenwaite

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Charlotte, 44

Norwich, Norfolk

My perfect day in Allerdale would start with an early morning open water swim, somewhere scenic and still… then, after working up an appetite, we’d head to Lingholm walled garden and kitchen for an amazing breakfast. After coffee we would meander through the beautiful gardens on a tour with a couple of the cute alpacas from Alpacaly Ever After. 

With smiles on our faces next we would head for lunch on the Orient Express! The new cafe at Bassenthwaite Lake Station gives you the chance to dine on the train used in the 2017 film of Agatha Christie’s ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ – and I’m a huge Poirot fan!  What a special day this is and it’s not over yet! After a scrumptious lunch we head into Cockermouth, we walk through the pretty streets and do some shopping (well why not eh?) and catch an audio tour of Wordsworth House. Catching all the poetic inspiration in the beautiful spiralling gardens we then leave pretty Cockermouth and head to Maryport on the Solway Coast. I see the sea !! We’d have to visit the Lake District Coast Aquarium, with live displays and so many freshwater fish, what a fabulous afternoon! 

After a busy fun day in this stunning area it’s time for rest and relaxation. We’d head to our hotel and get dressed up for a romantic evening meal, what better location to celebrate our wedding anniversary than staying at the fabulous Embelton Spa Hotel. The fell-view restaurant seats us at a perfect table with a glass of bubbly, ‘Cheers Allerdale and thank you for a perfect day!’ X

Wordsworth House, Cockermouth

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Ann-Marie, 57

St Helens, Merseyside

My perfect day in Allerdale begins on Keswick’s majestic Derwent Water for a Swallows and Amazon’s adventure! I hire a rowing boat to explore its islands, inlets and beaches, appreciating the outstanding scenery of the surrounding fells and England’s ‘giant’, Skiddaw Mountain. I would row to St. Herbert’s (or Owl!) Island for a breakfast picnic, to see the inspiration behind beloved Beatrix Potter’s tale of Squirrel Nutkin.

After my boating trip, I visit Threlkeld, to explore the rich mining history of the Lakes, reenacting the sights, sounds and smells of the area’s industrial heritage with an authentic underground mining tour and a thrilling ride on a steam train.

Next, I head towards Bassenthwaite and the home of the Lake District’s first whisky, stopping for a light lunch at The Lakes Distillery’s on-site bistro, once a Victorian cattle parlour, for fresh, local fare from its mouth-watering menu. After lunch, I indulge in the incredible multisensory experience of a Whisky and Chocolate Pairing Tour of the Distillery, immersing myself in lessons on alchemy whilst my palate experiences the perfect pairing of luxurious truffles with sherry-led single malts. Before heading to the gift shop to peruse and choose a fine bottle to take home as a memento, I take a walk down to the sparkling River Derwent and feed the cute resident alpacas.

A relaxing afternoon trip is next, to the historic Bassenthwaite Mirehouse, allowing myself to be transported back in time as I wander the grand rooms examining the great literary manuscripts of Wordsworth and Tennyson whilst live classical piano music plays gently in the background. Taking a stroll through the magnificent gardens I head for Poetry Walk with its fragrant rose scents and also the sheltered, tranquil walled Bee Garden.

Time now for a speciality coffee and a slice of home made warm, sticky gingerbread with rum butter and cream, served in The Old Sawmill Tearoom, whilst I admire the spectacular views down to Bassenthwaite Lake. Before departing, I take the short trip above the tearoom to a fantastic viewing point, in the hope of seeing the Ospreys fishing in the lake.

Derwentwater Keswick

After all of my inland adventures, I now head to the old Victorian seaside town of Silloth for some invigorating sea air. Nestled between salt marshes teeming with wildlife on  one side and rolling sand dunes on the other, its wide, tree-lined cobbled streets and acres of wide-open spaces showcase yet another side to spectacular Allerdale. My trip to the seaside would not be complete without sampling Silloth’s famous warm, potted brown shrimps.

An evening stroll along the promenade affords a bird watching opportunity, keeping my eyes peeled for sight of an oystercatcher or a redshank amongst the gulls and waders. Finally, I take the simple pleasure of sitting and admiring the wide-ranging views over the stunning Solway Firth towards Criffel, to watch a spectacular sunset worthy of a Turner painting.

Ian, 65

South-End-on-Sea, Essex

Waking up in Seaton, the village I was brought up in and taking my dog for a walk along the River Derwent, Passing Seaton Mill and on to the Yearl to watch the birds hunting in the river. Carrying on to Navvies Bridge and crossing over to pass the cricket ground. In to Curwen Park and wander past Curwen Hall, imagining going back in time and being part of the life of a Workingtonian when the hall was at it’s best.

Take the path above the playing fields with the wild flowers and plants on either side of the path. Enter the park at the end of the path and across to the stream in the park, passing the old mill heading back towards the river.

Follow the river and cross the bridge to get back on to the footpath. Watch the occasional fisherman in the river hoping to see him getting a bite. From there take the cycle path at Northside and head back towards Seaton. The next stop is by Siddick pond to watch the birdlife and, depending how early in the day, the Otter family living in the pond. Spend a while there, so peaceful and beautiful.

Carry on with my hike back along the line, paying attention to Burrow Walls, a Roman encampment, not much there now but the imagination starts working overtime with thoughts going back in time and me being involved in the business of Roman times.

Even walking along the cycle path, ( when I was a kid it was an operational goods trainline) evokes memories of watching the trains passing through the village en route to the RNAD. (Royal Navy Armament Depot) . Arrive back in Seaton and time for breakfast…a lovely walk, one of my favourites. Although the Lake District is famous, for obvious reasons, Workington is a town that can be ignored but it is a little gem on the Solway Coast that will always be in my heart.

Curwen Hall, Workington

Ps…if I didn’t have the dog with me I would have stopped off at Marion’s cafe in the town for the best breakfast around.

Sue, 59

Grays, Essex

Compromise…it’s what all great partnerships are built on. For me the pleasures of a morning spent in Cockermouth, dipping, like a happy humming bee into the independent ladieswear shops would be heaven, whilst my partner prefers the rather more masculine attractions of the butchers, bakers and beer shops. Maybe a good compromise would be a visit to Cockermouth Country Markets (Friday mornings) followed by a pub lunch at the Fish Inn, Buttermere.

Appetite for ale well and truly whetted, I know that a brewery tour would make his day, so a pleasant hour or two wending our way around Jennings or Tractor Shed brewing would make for perfect relaxation, partner is into brewing his own ale so I’m sure he’d be grateful for any tips he could pick up.

We both love walking and the great outdoors but walking takes time, which on this perfect day is limited. When you think of the Lake District the first thing to come to mind, is of course, the lakes themselves. As I’d rather be in it than on it, and also as it’s something that I’ve never done, I’d love for us to try some wild swimming. There are plenty of places to try this activity, but I’d love to take our first wild dip at Derwent water, I’ve read that you can access the lake here from a jetty. Wild swimming really gives you the chance to immerse yourself in the heart of the Lake District, I think it is something that is going to become increasing popular as people seek to escape away from facilities and enjoy a back to nature experience.

Thoroughly refreshed and energised I’d love to replenish with some fish and chips. I’ve read great things about the Kirkstile Inn at Loweswater, I think we’d really appreciate the fabulous location, home cooked meals and the fact that it brews its own ales, (can you see a theme here?).

Alhambra Cinema, Keswick

If there is still some time left in our whistlestop tour then I’d love to finish the day with a visit to the Alhambra cinema.

No compromise here, regardless of what’s on, this looks like a complete gem of a place to visit, of great interest to anyone who loves the excitement of a night at “the pictures”…It’s a great place to FIN the adventure!

Phillipa, 50

Liscard, Merseyside

My perfect day in Allerdale would start with an early morning stroll from Keswick Moot Hall down to Friar’s Crag, a beautiful viewpoint on the banks of Derwentwater. From there I would head back into town and around through Portinscale to the beautiful Lingholm Estate where I would have breakfast at the Lingholm Kitchen, where the stunning cafe looks down upon the beautiful walled garden. Contained within the walled garden is an outdoor gallery dedicated to Beatrix Potter’s work in the Derwentwater area, much of it undertaken whilst she stayed at Lingholm. The gallery takes a journey through her years at Lingholm and the Northern Lakes and how she wrote and illustrated some of her best known stories here.

This would be followed by an hour so of my husband paddle boarding from one of the marina’s situated on the lake shore nearby, I prefer to watch and stay dry! From here I would travel up to the Honister Slate Mine where I could take a tour of the mine, or, if feeling adventurous, could attempt the “Via Ferrara”, the breathtaking and heady route the original miners would have taken to work. Included in this is the more recent addition of the Infinity Bridge, named as you are often unable to see the other end! It is strung across a breathtaking gorge high up on the mountain, 1500 feet above the valley floor below.

Next up would be a well deserved lunch at the Bistro at the Lakes Distillery, followed by a tour of this fascinating, relatively new enterprise to the region. This would be followed by a tour round the distillery, perhaps finishing here with one or two of the cocktails which are created using the spirits distilled on site, including whisky, gin, vodka and various liqueurs.

Now for some more relaxed sight seeing, dropping in to the Senhouse Roman Museum in Maryport which is dramatically sited on cliffs overlooking the Solway Firth. Here is a chance to view the largest collection of Roman Altar Stones from any site in Britain. After such a full, busy but fantastic day, no visit to Allerdale would be complete without a relaxing cruise on Derwentwater with the Keswick Launch Company with a choice of travelling clockwise or anti-clockwise around the lake admiring the surrounding fells.

Senhouse Roman Museum, Maryport

Finally I would travel part way up the Whinlatter Pass to the Cottage in the Wood, where Ben Wilkinson serves Michelin starred food using the rich larder the area provides, using local ingredients such as Herdwick Hoggett and freshly landed fish and shellfish from the West Coast harbours. The restaurant has gained recognition in the leading guides.

Finally, after this fabulous day, of which I will have many precious memories, my husband and I would head back to our room at the stunning and luxurious Borrowdale Gates Hotel for a good nights sleep and looking forward to a fantastic breakfast in the morning!

Harry, 39

Brighton, East Sussex

Rising and shining at The Greenhill Hotel, Wigton for a piece to camera setting out where Allerdale is and the aspirations for the day. Then an early stroll to the memorial fountain for a colourful backdrop and a note about the history of the Allerdale area including Romans and Cymric Strathclyde (to set up the theme for Hadrian’s Wall and later on the Abbey).

Having set the scene, a quick drive up to Milefortlet 21 for Hadrian’s Wall to start the day proper showcases the most iconic feature of the region including shots of gazing out across the old frontier. Moving down through Solway Coast AONB potentially with stretches of cycling generates views of beach/forest scenery to ensure breathtaking visuals and memories. While in the AONB, a stop-off at Holme Cultran Abbey allows for some magnificent historic architecture and to drop in a Robert de Bruis reference. Taking in the the Discovery Centre at Silloth offers the opportunity to point out features that can’t otherwise fit into a packed 1 day itinerary and to learn more about the area.

Heading over to Bassenthwaite allows lunch at the Coach House Restaurant for some visuals of an eatery with external charm. After lunch it is on to the Wildlife Park to showcase animals and the family-friendly environment. A little less family friendly but a key stop in Bassenthwaite is the Lakes Distillery – including a shot of appreciating a dram in the outdoor seating area potentially paired with chocolate as would be offered by the pairing tour.

The final destination is Keswick but to travel there should pass by Bassenthwaite lake as a precursor to a short trip around Derwentwater on a launch. In Keswick there should be time to explore the city’s key features with angles on foot to admire the beauty of the town but also including the Bowder Stone and shots of the views around Borrowdale Valley to capture the spectacular. 

George Moore Memorial Fountain, Wigton

Theatre by the Lake is a must to add something uniquely local for the modern culture. Taking in a show would offer the chance for dinner either before or afterwards depending on the timings with potentially Lakeside Cafe Restaurant generating a show stealing backdrop itself.

The day would offer history, natural beauty, cycling, whisky, two restaurants, unique local features, and theatrical culture.

Jim, 48

Liverpool, Merseyside

My perfect day in Allerdale, has an early Keswick start.
A Derwent Water morning mist can melt the hardest heart.
Then a Merienda breakfast, so very hard to beat,
Will fuel the busiest of days, and is such a perfect treat.
Next round to Jan’s smart sandwich shop, for tasty, fresh supplies,
And off to the Marina for some paddling exercise.
With safety gear and Jan’s fine treats, we’d take a fine canoe,
And spend a perfect morning on a paddling trip for two.
A paddle here, a paddle there, a picnic on the shore,
Wonder at the scenery, then paddle off some more.
After the Marina, Watendlath calls to me,
With fingers crossed that Caffle House is open for some tea.
An afternoon by Bassenthwaite would be up next I think.
A chance to sample wondrous views, and perhaps a tasty drink.
The splendid Lake’s distillery, is what we’d love to see.
To take the tour and taste the malts – just the job for me!
With spirits raised, what could beat, a refreshing pint or two.
So a trip to Keswick Brewery Tap is what we’d love to do.
This day would be perfect, but so would many more,
Allerdale offers oh so much, it’s what we love it for!
If this could be my day, it would certainly end well,
With a real taste of luxury, at the Borrowdale Gates Hotel.

Paddle Boarding in Keswick

Laura, 33

Leek, Staffordshire

If you’d asked me a few years ago it would have been up in the mountains walking and climbing and down the mountain bike trails at whinlatter. With 2 under 3s we’ve changed what we do a little but we still love love a bit of adventure and getting out and about.

Our perfect day now would be to start with a walk on the beach at moss bay looking in the pools and building sandcastles between the stones. We would then head up the coast to maryport to visit the clip and climb and cave in the leisure centre there. Our daughter is full of energy and loves to climb so doing it safely somewhere we can relax is fantastic for her and us. After grabbing lunch at the cafe there we would take a short drive over to the lake district wildlife park. Both us and the children love animals and this beautiful park is on 25 acres and includes a playground and a cafe so all bases covered for us there!

With a suitably tired out 2 year old we would head into Keswick to finish the day with a visit to one of Keswick’s beautiful pubs for a hearty evening meal (and a glass of whisky!). Having a family day would take the guilt off if we decided to sneak in a quick climb or bike for us the next day too 😉

Studio Pixel Cafe, Maryport