Despite being a northerner, I had never been to the Lake District until last summer. When we decided to quit our jobs and move to Prague, an obvious highlight was the fact that we could actually have a summer holiday first (Dr HH is a school teacher, so those six weeks of summer are the only time he doesn’t have a mountain of stuff to do; my old job had a strict ‘no time-off in the summer holidays’ policy. Boo!). We couldn’t afford our dream exploration of Japan, so we planned a few trips around the UK as a way to bid a fond farewell. We spent a week in Cornwall, then three days in the Lakes.
Usually Dr HH and I are all about Airbnb, but this time we decided to splash out on our accommodation, the all-vegan Fox Hall B&B near Kendal. It was quite small, but very welcoming. As you may deduce from the decor, we were staying in the Sunflower Room. It was a bright, airy room, and the bathroom was stocked with vegan shower gel and handwash, which is always a good sign. It’s possible to order an evening meal in advance, so we had done that the day before and ate almost as soon as we arrived.
There’s quite an extensive menu, so it was difficult to choose. We both opted for soups to start: parsnip and lemon for Dr HH and mushroom for me. The former was zingy, but needed a bit more seasoning. The latter was a bit watery, but nice.
For the mains, Dr HH couldn’t turn down a chance to eat the fanciest food known to humankind: a chestnut croute. He found it very good, but a wee bit small. Fortunately, we could help ourselves to lots of veg, gravy and roasties. I gambled on some pancakes, which were nice but a little watery from the spinach, which was a shame as it diluted the flavoursome tomato sauce a bit.
The dessert was the best round, which is exactly as it should be! Dr HH had the chocolate orange gateau, which was gigantic. He reported that it was moist, sweet, tasty and good. I had the chocolate sponge pudding, which was also huge. And chocolate custard! Oh, I was happy. I wish I could have ordered seconds without appearing a total glutton. It was £15 each for three courses, which isn’t bad. It was good home-cooking, and a really enjoyable, relaxed meal. We loved it!
I’ve already written about the excellent breakfasts we enjoyed there. I’ll also add that the hosts are really accommodating and welcoming, and there’s lots of information about local walks and activities. We were advised to go to Grizedale Forest for a walk, so we did that on our second day, amidst a few downpours. We meandered along underneath the Go Ape! course overhead, and followed a few different trails to find some of the exciting sculptures dotted throughout the forest.
When we found this foxy fellow, we stopped and picnicked on our holiday staple, Lucky Stars. After we had exhausted ourselves, we hopped back in the car and over to Ambleside for an evening meal.
Zeffirelli’s is a cinema/jazz bar/restaurant, and it looks quite fancy – this was a little worrying as we arrived in our scruffy hiking clothes. Fortunately, we were not the only ones slumming it a bit. It was a big restaurant, but it really filled up, so booking might be a good idea during summer. Vegan options are clearly marked on the menu, and there are quite a few of them. Despite the summer weather, I wanted this more festive meal: pecan and chestnut wellington with mash, gravy and veg. It was sensational! Everything had depth of flavour, and the pastry was especially well cooked.
Alas, there are only two vegan dessert options, and one of them is sorbet. That left me with the summer pudding, which isn’t a bad thing to be left with, in fairness. It wasn’t really as elegant as the one I had in The Waiting Room a couple of years ago, but it was fruity, and delicious with some soya cream. Zeffirelli’s gets a bonus point for marking vegan wines on the menu. And for its good service, too.
On our last day we breakfasted at the B&B again, then drove home via Ulverston, where we walked up the hill and then went for a delicious afternoon tea in Gillam’s Tea Room.
I’m hoping to return to the Lakes next summer, and I’d love to stay at Fox Hall again. There are a few other veggie eateries I had my eye on as well, so it would be nice to give them a try too. The holiday really inspired me to be more outdoorsy, and since then I’ve been doing a bit of hiking and trying to build up the courage to try Go Ape! It’s not easy to do such things when you’re afraid of heights and…well, most things, really. But I’m trying! Hopefully this summer there’ll be a follow up post with pictures of me climbing and zip-wiring and who knows what else!?