If you’re looking for something truly unique to do in the Lake District, may I suggest a trip to Bassenthwaite Lake Station. Open for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, it ticks all of the boxes for train enthusiasts and foodies alike.
Heaped in nostalgia, the station and its outbuildings were restored in the style of the 1930s over the course of two years. It even has a touch of movie star glamour, as the replica French SNCF Class 241 steam engine you eat in appeared in the 2017 film Murder on the Orient Express.
While we were mainly there to see the best Beatrix Potter attractions in the Lake District, it was finding little gems like Bassenthwaite Lake Station which really made our holiday.
Where is Bassenthwaite Lake Station?
As the name suggests, Bassenthwaite Lake Station is on the edge of Bassenthwaite Lake in the Lake District. It is situated on the former Cockermouth to Keswick railway line. It is a 10 minute drive from Cockermouth and 12 minutes from Keswick. There is parking available outside the station.
The site is wheelchair accessible and the carriage can be accessed via a ramp. It is suggested to call ahead if you have a wide chair or scooter though, as some parts of the train are narrower than others.
The history of the station
Bassenthwaite Lake Station opened on 2 January 1865 and sadly closed on 18 April 1966. For many years it fell into disrepair, until it was purchased by Simon and Diana Parums. The couple then spent two years restoring it and turning it into what you see today.
If you book in advance you can dine in the replica steam train in either the Restaurant carriage or the Salon carriage. Alternatively, walk-ins are welcome at the restored Ticket Office building.
What I really liked about the station is that you can tell as soon as you arrive that it really has been a labour of love. There are so many little finishing touches which have been thought about, from the station signs dotted around to the memorabilia displayed throughout the train.
There’s also a lovely little nature reserve just off the platform, which has wooden carved animals in it. Plus, there’s a bird hide, helpfully stocked with binoculars, a bird book and a whiteboard to record the day’s sightings.
The food at Bassenthwaite Lake Station
We had a fantastic breakfast at Bassenthwaite Lake Station. We opted for the Full Cumbrian breakfast and couldn’t fault any of it. I also liked that a lot of the food is locally sourced and the tea and coffee are supplied by small Cumbrian businesses. I must even admit my ‘Ramblers Brew’ was on a par with my beloved Yorkshire tea!
Although we didn’t get a chance to sample the lunch or afternoon tea, I checked out both menus and they sounded great. If I was visiting the Lake District again I would definitely return to try them. They have really positive reviews online.
My sister also wisely thought to take home a selection of the cakes which were delicious!
The menus cater for vegetarians, vegans and dietary requirements such as gluten-free.
Do you need to book to visit Bassenthwaite Lake Station?
It is definitely worth making a booking if you want to eat on the actual train at Bassenthwaite Lake Station. This is because it, understandably, gets very busy at popular times. I requested a table via the website about five days before our visit and received confirmation the next day. When we arrived we were given our own carriage for the eight of us, with one table of four and two tables of two.
However, if you want to chance it, you can visit without a reservation and sit in the former ticket office. Alternatively, if the weather is good, there are picnic benches outside.
It is worth noting though that only guests who are eating in the train are permitted to go on it.
Is Bassenthwaite Lake Station suitable for children?
Yes, Bassenthwaite Lake Station is perfect for children, especially little train enthusiasts! This is always one of the things I look for when choosing a place to eat and I really do think the station is a great option if you’re visiting the Lake District with kids.
We visited for breakfast and there was an option to order a children’s cooked breakfast. There is also a children’s lunch menu available. Options include things like home-cooked ham and chips, cod goujons and mac n cheese.
We felt extremely welcomed by all of the staff and our little adventurers loved the excitement of eating on a train. While we waited for our food to arrive at we took a walk outside and enjoyed the nature reserve.
Highchairs are available for little guests. Plus, the baby changing facilities were great, which is something you don’t always find in smaller places. Likewise, there is a large accessible toilet and wet room for guests who require this.
Can dogs go to Bassenthwaite Lake Station?
Well-behaved dogs are allowed in the station and onto the train. During our visit my sister took her dog and we felt very welcomed. There are a few sensible requirements in the Doggy Etiquette Guidance provided, such as keeping dogs on a lead and not allowing them to sit on the seats.
Whenever we’re on holiday we love to find the places which make an area unique. I really feel that Bassenthwaite Lake Station offers that to visitors. It was something which was really enjoyed by everyone in our group, from the toddler to my parents. It was definitely one of the highlights of out visit to the Lake District.
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