WHEN people think of the lakes images are conjured up of Wordsworth poems, windswept hills, walking, real ale, traditional Sunday lunches and sheep.

One thing that doesn’t immediately spring to mind is vegan food and a growing trend for plant based options.

You would be forgiven for thinking that in the heartland of cattle and sheep rearing there would be little in the way of food options for vegans like myself but I was pleasantly surprised.

There were many places that had vegan fare on offer while at the same time there were plenty of meat and vegetarian options on offer in the same places for my husband.

We decided to take a break to the lakes staying in the stunning village of Coniston nestled away in a valley carved out by glaciers.

The scenery is something else and is enough to take your breath away.

We stayed with the exceptional coppermines.co.uk lake cottages in the recently refurbished Roseberry cottage – less then five minutes stroll from the centre of town.

The cottage has all the latest mod cons including a high spec kitchen including Le Creuset pans, Joseph Joseph kitchen utensils, NEFF microwave oven and John Lewis cups and a large dishwasher and washing machine.

Not forgetting to mention underfloor heating throughout and a heating boost button to give instant heat.

The finish throughout the cottage is exceptional and worthy of featuring in an interiors magazine.

There are two bedrooms – one with en suite – that can sleep four people so is ideal for families or couples.

The stunning bathrooms with lit vanity mirrors and walk in rain showers was a huge hit with me – perfect after a day spent walking.

The Nespresso coffee machine and iPhone dock were winners with my other half.

There was also the ubiquitous 50 inch smart screen.

Having a coffee in the garden patio in the morning while looking at the view of the nearby hills is a view that you will never forget.

The village is a great base for walkers or enthusiasts as the old man of Coniston, sitting at 2,634 high, shadows the entire village and is a fell walkers must.

Knutsford Guardian: Looking across Coniston Water to Coniston Village and Coniston Old Man

Just five minutes drive from the cottage is the impressive Coniston Lake.

It is the fifth biggest lake in the area and a stunning place to spend your first afternoon and work up an appetite. You can then grab some late lunch at the stunning Bluebird cafe set on the shores of the lake before walking it all off again on one of the many nearby walking trails.

There are plenty of pubs just metres from the cottage. Proper dog friendly pubs at that which offer a welcoming open fire and local ales.

There are also a number of restaurants that can offer a vegan option if arranged in advance such as the well regarded Steam Bistro.

The view of the Old Man while dusk is setting from the Sun Hotel beer garden is not to be missed.

The Black Bull Inn is comfy and a haven for fell walkers and locals alike. It offers locally sourced food on a revolving menu of specials all washed down with a Coniston ale worthy of a Camra real ale award.

If, like us, you enjoy a lie in there are plenty of cafes that serve brunch to fuel up with.

On our second day after brunch we got in the car for a short drive to nearby Brockhole, blessed with glorious unbroken blue skies.

Knutsford Guardian: The zip wire at Brockhole on Windermere

We were up for a spot of aerial adventures at Treetop Trek that would see me conquer my fear of heights as I swung, balanced, leapt and climbed my way round the tree line while more than 10 feet off the ground.

The friendly guides went out of their way to make me feel safe and comfortable.

It was definitively safety first and this put me at ease allowing me to conquer the course although still a long way behind the fearless children who flew around the course.

I then took on the mighty 250ft zip wire – to my surprise, my favourite part of the course.

It was just the thing to clear the cobwebs from a few drinks the night before and all the fun and fresh air certainly built up an appetite.

We opted to grab some lunch in the White Lion Hotel in nearby Ambleside which as well as catering for omnivores also has its own dedicated vegan menu. There were lots of tasty treats available including popcorn cauliflower bites, vegan lasagne and a hearty lentil pie and the moving mountains burger.

We headed for the nearby pier to catch the boat with Windermere Lake Cruises, said to be the most popular attraction in the Lakes. The modern and traditional steamers operate tours lasting from 45 minutes to three hours on the national parks most famous lake Windermere.

We had a 24 hour pass which allows you to hop and off the boats as many times and visit as many places as you want over the course of 24-hours.

We took a pleasant 45-minute boat ride to the village of Bowness on Windermere and then wiled away a pleasant hour and a half walking through the streets visiting shops selling traditional Lakeland hand made clothes and goods.

We got the boat back and after freshening up got dressed and grabbed a taxi back to Ambleside for a night out.

We enjoyed an amazing meal at the glitzy Zeffirellis restaurant in the town.

Knutsford Guardian: Zeffirellis, Ambleside

We were lucky enough to be there on their regular jazz night where a three piece band provided a brilliant music accompaniment.

The restaurant has a laid back cool vibe with pillars and velvet seating that harks back to the heady days of New York clubs in their prime.

There was a real mix of people and ages in the dedicated vegetarian Italian restaurant.

As well as music and food the venue also boasts a boutique five screen plush private cinema showing all the latest films.

The food and decor was that good my husband even forgot he was in a vegetarian restaurant. He chose the bruschetta to start with and had dough balls with cannelloni as his main. While I had coleslaw and spicy wedges to start and with such a large choice of vegan options I was spoilt for choice.

I was torn between the pecan and cashew nut wellington and a vegan pizza but in the end plumped for a delicious mushroom bourginon – one of the best I have had.

The music and food was exceptional and the perfect chilled out end to a hectic day and after a quick nightcap we got a taxi back to the cottage.

The following morning we headed to Hawkshead to the home of Beatrix Potter.

Unfortunately Hill Top – the home of Potter was closed – but undeterred we went back to Hawskhead village to the chocolate shop.

Knutsford Guardian: Hawkshead

We bought some hand crafted bars while others were busy creating their own messy masterpieces in the on site chocolate factory.

We then went to see some of Beatrix’s original books in the nearby Beatrix Potter Gallery (open February – September) run by the National Trust.

The delicate books from my childhood such as Miss Tiggy Winkle and Jemima Puddleduck, are proudly displayed on the walls of the law office of her former husband , local solicitor William Heelis, which is now owned by the National Trust.

The 17th century building has remained largely unaltered since his day.

It was fascinating to see the first editions as well as read all the stories about how the characters came about based on real animals she encountered.

We had to go to the Lakeland Motor Museum after hearing it has one of the UKs best collections of classic cars , vehicles and Isle of Man super bikes.

A must for any car enthusiast or petrol head, I was amazed by the number of old cars and bikes that filled the museum some of which are so rare they are believed to be the only ones in the world.

After a quick pit stop it was time for the journey home safe in the knowledge the lakes will always be in our heart.


The Coppermines Lakes Cottages weekend or mid-week breaks start from £496. Details at coppermines.co.uk

Windermere Lake Cruises ‘Freedom of the Lake’ ticket cost £15.60 adults, £7.80 for under 15s and under 5s sail for free. Tickets for shorter sailings are also available. Details at windermere-lakecruises.co.uk

Treetop Trek at Blockhole – a three-hour trek costs £32 for adults, £24 for children. A more gentle mini trek is £22 for adults and £13 for children. Details are at treetoptrek.co.uk

To enjoy a great meal out in sumptuous surroundings with great music every Friday/ Saturday nights check out zeffirellis.com

For more about what to do in The Lake District visit golakes.co.uk, operated by Cumbria Tourism.