The ritual of British Afternoon Tea was introduced to England by the seventh Duchess of Bedford in the year 1840 when the daily evening meal was served fashionably late at eight o’clock in the evening, leaving a gap for a light snack mid-afternoon. The occasion of Afternoon Tea generally consists of a mini-meal. Think ‘fingers’ of small sandwiches and petite sweet pastries and cakes, served with a traditional tea service. What fun!
Today, the ritual of Afternoon Tea is a popular way of celebrating a special occasion and treating a loved one, whiling away an afternoon in a beautiful country manor house with friends or family, nibbling on small samples of the tastiest delights.
And here in the Lake District, Afternoon Tea is a must so there is lots of choice to whet your appetite. From fancy occasions and splendid manor houses to a relaxed dog-friendly Afternoon Tea, here’s our guide to some of the best spots for Afternoon Tea in the Lake District.
Afternoon Tea is a mainstay on the Lingholm Estate, a Gothic Revival style country retreat designed by one of the Victorian’s most prominent architects, Alfred Waterhouse, on the shore of Derwentwater in the North Lakes.
Today, Afternoon Tea at Lingholm is served between 1pm and 4pm and made onsite at the adjoining Lingholm bakery. Enjoy a pea, goats cheese and mint tartlet, delicate macrons and fragrant biscuits. Combine with a choice of artisan coffees, loose-leaf teas or a glass of Prosecco for a delightful light meal looking out over the wonderful Walled Garden – the very garden that inspired Beatrix Potter to create Mr Mcgregor’s vegetable plot in the Tale of Peter Rabbit. The Lingholm Kitchen and Estate is little-known, yet is only a 40-minute drive from Windermere, Ambleside and Grasmere.
The author Beatrix Potter spent summer holidays as a child on the Lingholm Estate and there are easy walks through pretty woodland along the western shore of Derwentwater. In fact, it was in these woods that the famous Squirrel Nutkin came to life with his “tail for a sail”.
Catch a relaxing Windermere Cruise from Bowness or Ambleside to Brockhole House on the western shore of Lake Windermere to enjoy Afternoon Tea at the newly renovated 19th century Gaddum Restaurant. Make your way through the Arts & Crafts style garden to the Garden Room, where Afternoon Tea is served. Prices start at £21.50 per person and the classic Afternoon Tea here is updated with the seasons and you can add a glass of Villa Sandi Prosecco for an extra special treat. The Gaddum’s signature afternoon tea includes a choice of tempting pâtisserie, finger sandwiches, oven-fresh scones and even the Gaddum’s very own grapes. Or you can choose a Cream Tea served with a Brockhole House berry preserve. This is a very special but relaxed Afternoon Tea served in one of the most delightful country houses in the Lake District with enviable views out onto Lake Windermere.
Sitting right on the shore of Lake Ullswater, the Inn on the Lake is a local favourite for Afternoon Tea in the North Lakes. The tradition is to hop on the award-winning Ullswater Steamer from Pooley Bridge on the northern tip of Ullswater and cruise to the peaceful village of Glenridding on the southern peninsular. Sitting at the base of the mighty Helvellyn mountain range, Afternoon Tea in the Orangery at the Inn on the Lake is a coveted Lake District experience. Over the warm summer months, the large outdoor terrace that looks out across manicured gardens is the perfect place to enjoy Afternoon Tea.
This sumptuous tradition is available daily 12noon to 5pm (booking required).
Served every Sunday and for under £10 you can enjoy a traditional Afternoon Tea or an alternative hot one, of mini burgers, scampi & chips, mozzarella & chicken garlic bread and a shot of hot soup, followed by the next tier of cakes and homemade fruit with jam and clotted cream. The Lakeside Railway’s Traditional Afternoon Tea includes freshly made sandwiches, a variety of cakes, savoury treats as well as a delicious fruit scone with jam and clotted cream! Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free choices are also available. The experience is a very jovial affair located in Haverthwaite Station Tea Room, just south of Lake Windermere, taking place between 12noon – 3:30pm. Vouchers are also available and make a lovely holiday gift for a special occasion like Father’s Day or a birthday.
From 3pm enjoy the ceremony of Afternoon Tea in the relaxing comfort of Hayes Garden World, in the heart of Ambleside. Enjoy a stack of freshly made sandwiches, homemade quiche and sausage rolls followed by homemade cakes and fruit scones with cream and jam. This is a very relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere and a great way to introduce kids to the fun of Afternoon Tea. There’s often lots going on for families at Hayes, Ambleside, such as their ‘Ever-changing Fairy Forest’, that takes enchanted kids through the seasons. The large outdoor terrace is the perfect place to drink in the surrounding Lakeland hills and the restaurant is prepared with children’s colour activity sheets and pencils.
From Afternoon Tea with the girls, a romantic couples celebration or a traditional country house affair, we’d highly recommend making sure that an indulgent Afternoon Tea is on your holiday itinerary.