Scones and tombstones: a slice of home-made jam sponge with a pot of Earl Grey in a graveyard may not be everyone's cuppa. Yet Sunday afternoon tea outside St Anne's Church, from 3-5pm during the summer, has much to offer. Earn yourself a treat after strolling in nearby Kew Gardens or listening to a free music recital inside the church. Soak up the genteel Women's Institute atmosphere, with cakes baked and served by ladies of the parish. Make a discovery or two - you could be perched on Gainsborough or Zoffany. The summer silence is punctuated by the occasional 'Howzat' of the local cricket team playing alongside on Kew Green.
We never expected to find any refreshments on our circular walk from Stainforth. The map showed that Feizor was the largest settlement that we passed through: but it was just a hamlet, with a cluster of buildings quite literally at the end of the road. We weren’t surprised that there was no pub marked on the map: there was no church, chapel or even a telephone box. We were surprised when the footpath emerged opposite something like an oasis. Elaine’s Tearooms came as a complete surprise. A little more research on the web before the walk would have showed that Feizor sits across the Pennine Bridleway – a very well used route for cyclists – and the tearooms provide a very popular refreshment stop. But this is no “transport café” for cyclists. Yes it caters for mud-caked customers but the quality and choice of cakes on offer would do justice to the most upmarket establishment.
Home Barn, Feizor, North Yorkshire, LA2 8DF +44(0)1729 824114
Google map: bit.ly/KJBlXl
The genteel half-timbered town of Rye combines cobblestones and crumpets, but it's a lucky tourist who nabs one of the elegant tables at Fletcher's House. Fiercely guarded by present-day Mapps and Lucias, this local institution is always jammed with Rye's movers and shakers. While Pete attends every whim front of house, Lee has them stifling cries of ecstasy at the confections displayed on his tiered cake stands. The gossip flows as the floral frocked cognoscenti nibble home-made fruit flans and sip Lady Grey tea from fine bone china. But beware the glint of a filigree butter knife among the patterned polyester as it silently slips into an absent neighbour's back.
If, Withnail-like, you demand the finest wines available to humanity to wash down your fluffy scones, don't worry, they have a wine menu too.
Francis Tea Rooms are redolent of a more elegant era, when women wore lace gloves and indulged in afternoon fancies.
On a quiet back street behind Scarborough's Esplanade you will find 1930's wood-panelled booths (the tea room was once a barber's), vintage mismatched china, and embroidered lawn tablecloths.
A full range of Taylor's teas are served by the pot with lemon or milk, and there are a plethora of savoury dishes and home-baked cakes to tempt the tastebuds. The rarebit is particularly good, but my all time favourites have to be the lemon meringue and the cream teas.
7 South Street, Scarborough
Google map: bit.ly/JIbj4C
An Clachan is everything a cafe should be. Set in a (previously unloved) section of the beautiful Kelvingrove Park, An Clachan has really lovely home made cakes (the best chocolate chip cupcakes I've had), hot and cold food (again, home made), good coffee, great welcoming staff and healthy snacks and drinks for children. It's even near a small play park, and believe me, good coffee and kids play areas are rarely found together.
Stunning azaleas and rhododendrons on the edge of Dartmoor. Tea room housed in baronial style old billiard hall. Chat to the friendly owners about the 150 year history while enjoying tea in china cups and delicious home made cake. During autumn season homemade soup served as well, by the log fire. Great for families (kids trail and woodland paths), disability access to tea room and terrace.
Park next to Llyn Geirionydd, and take a walk across Mynydd Deulyn – "mountain of the two lakes" - into the beautiful Crafnant Valley. Follow the easily accessible path around Llyn Crafnant, and then before you head back, stumble across this unassuming cafe, tucked away on the banks of the lake (table cloths pegged down just in case!). Take in the beautiful and unspoilt scenery, with a proper cup of tea and a very generous slice of delicious home made cake. We sit and linger and day dream, until finally heading back over the mountain.
Forget the twee teashops of Dorset and Devon - this is the real thing. The afternoon tea is loving prepared by the ladies of Wimborne St Giles, each week raising money for a different charity. This is so quintessentially English, it's unforgettable. How I wish they had kept to the eclectic mix of granny's crockery, cutlery and tablecloths that we all loved so, but nonetheless, this is the place to enjoy freshly made petite sandwiches and homemade cakes and a surprisingly low price. My only worry is that I have let the cat out of the bag and I won't get a table tomorrow!
Wimborne St Giles Village Hall, Wimborne St Giles, Wimborne, Dorset, BH21 5LX
Google map: bit.ly/KrWFjY
After a day spent being a literary tourist at Hill Top Farm and tracing Wordsworth's footsteps, I thoroughly recommend a visit to Baldry's Tea Room in Grasmere. Though at first it's shabby-chic appearance may not appeal, you really would regret not trying Baldry's world famous Lemon Meringue Pie. I can understand why it's world famous, it is a gluttons dream! My companions Victoria sponge (also delicious) came served on a vintage bone china tea plate, my lemon meringue pie was so huge it had a cake plate all to itself. Delicious pastry, zingy creamy lemon filling, and clouds of chewy, caramelised meringue abound. As for the tea, it was loose leaf, in a proper pot with proper china cups and saucers, what more could you ask for? And the staff are lovely. They serve breakfast and lunch too, but I still have daydreams about the pie. It's the ideal spot to sit in the Lake District sunshine (if you're lucky!) and watch the world pass by while writing a postcard home. Oh, and don't forget to pick up some of the (also famous) Grasmere Gingerbread for the journey home.
Red Lion Square, Grasmere, Cumbria, LA22 9SW +44(0)1539 35301
Google map: bit.ly/K7rFH1
La Fourchette is a charming, very French cafe on the Church Rd in Hove, just off the seafront and a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the promenade. It is comfortable and authentic, with leather chairs plus more formal seating. It serves the most delicious patisserie this side of Paris, beautiful, individual cakes which are simply a delight to behold as well as eat. Large selection of teas and coffees plus 'citron presse'. A nice alternative to the traditional Sussex cream tea
This delightful corner café is off the beaten track, just off the seafront in Kemp Town. It's possibly named after Mr Hudson and Mrs Bridges of Upstairs Downstairs and indeed it has a little 'upstairs' perch complete with vintage decor. The foodie treats greet you as you walk in. Wonderful French macaroons, delicious cakes of all types, tarts, lots for choc-lovers and gluten free slices, all presented beautifully and in full view. Tea is served in pretty china, lots of choice. The interior is welcoming, friendly, little corners to sit and while away time in, they never rush you. Our favourite is a mirrored, kitsch, three sided, silk-cushioned, Fifties-inspired alcove. They open the big long windows at the front in the summer for an alfresco feel, a gem!
Oh and there are lovely fresh savoury offerings too, all home-made and yummy.
237 Eastern Rd, Brighton, BN8 4TD
Google map: bit.ly/KrfH9Y
Rather than going somewhere for tea and cakes, why not have Lulabelle come to you. She is a pink VW campervan, thought to be the oldest working in the UK, who, with the help of her owner, will bring delicious tea and cakes to you with a real vintage feel and flair. Perfect for parties and outdoor events, we spotted her last week at Malton Food Festival where her delicious cakes such as chocolate & Guinness and passion fruit & banana, along with tea served in vintage china, were a big attraction with the foodies.
The cafe at Jodrell Bank is used not only by those who've gone to explore the Observatory but also as a pit stop for passing cyclists in the Cheshire countryside. The decor includes clocks telling you what the time it is on Mars, Venus or in a black hole. It has an appetising array of cakes with lots of gluten free options too. Not only that but they serve you a huge pot of tea with whole milk from the local farm and, even better than this, the waiter came over and offered to top up the hot water for us- absolute bliss!
Jodrell Bank Observatory, the University of Manchester, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK11 9DL
+44 (0)1477 571321
Tea and cakes! - this converted station offers a warm welcome and not just to cyclists. it's at the point of the C2C ride where you begin the downhill swoop to Consett. A haven for those who want to rest sore muscles and they serve excellent home made cake - or broth, if its cold and you have cycled more up-hill miles than you planned.
Ulverston, a charmingly pretty market town at the southern tip of the Cumbria Way in the south Lakes, but not so charming on a cold, wet, gloomy Sunday at any time of the year. Thank goodness then for Gillam’s Tea Rooms in Market Street, a sanctuary for the damp and disorientated. Warm, steamy (on a wet day) and always welcoming, Gillam’s fayre includes the best selection of afternoon teas and the most indulgent welsh rarebit you can imagine. But best of all is the children’s afternoon tea, served on its own tray with a small-person sized tea set. Take the kids … but don’t tell a soul!
Glendurgan gardens is a National Trust managed Garden estate tucked way in a glorious green valley SW of falmouth. A perfect day out for families with children as there is a laurel maze hidden in the depths of the garden, the sheer brightness of the greens reminded me of a trip to the north of Sri Lanka. There are tropical plants, palms, streams and bridges and viewing points and resting points a plenty. Descending through the garden you join a small shingle beach which is gently lapped by the Helford Estuary- perfect for skimming stones while eating a clotted cream ice cream
Glendurgan, Falmouth, Mawnan Smith, Falmouth, Cornwall TR11 5JZ
Google map: bit.ly/Ld6yE5
With eclectic décor, wonderful service and fantastic food, The Dwelling House is a little slice of bygone Britain in the centre of Fowey. The amazing array of cakes and scones are freshly cooked in the homely kitchen and served on vintage crockery in the quirky tea rooms. The hardest part is deciding what to choose; but in the year of the Jubilee it’d have to be the scrumptious Victoria Sponge!
Isolated and remote with limited vehicular access but over 100kms of paths, walks and small roads. Ideal to explore. Fantastic photo shoots and plenty of wildlife.
Helmsley is a very nice town. I really appreciate the Verbena spa, it is one of the best I have been to! Helmsley has really nice surroundings and many small boutiques with friendly, helpful staff. I'm especially fond of Libby Butler's jewellery. It is a great place for a romantic weekend, or a fun and relaxing weekend with friends.
It's a really picturesque market town - me, my husband and two boys love to go there on a day trip. There's loads of lovely independent shops, fab family friendly pubs and restaurants, a castle (my four-year-old loves it!), a walled garden and plenty of walks and fresh air! Well worth a visit. Always come away saying we wish we lived there!
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