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Trip Report Short trip: Cartmel near South Lakes

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Cartmel is a small village near the South Lakes just north of Lancaster. It is easily reached by the M6. It has the benefits of having very good pubs and restaurants all within a short walking distance. It is near to Morecambe Bay with its small villages like Flookburgh (the town of flounders – small flat fish like plaice).It is well served by hotels.
The Restaurant L’Enclume is considered as being one of the finest in the UK and was the subject of an episode of “The Trip” a series in which Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon travelled the North of England in search of good “grub”.
We chose a wintry weekend when ‘gobfulls’ of snowflakes floated down and covered the village and surrounding hills. It was a very pretty sight. It felt almost like Christmas especially with the bright lights from craft shops many specialising in toys and provided a contrast to the more austere buildings in the square. The village has a small stream running through it complete with ducks.
Cartmel Priory is an imposing sight. Its insides are spacious and haunting. Gravestones there provide short narratives of the risks associated with the area. Stories of Mothers who have drowned in the very same spot as their sons. You are left ruminating their fate – did they drown in the treacherous sands of Morecambe Bay whilst catching flounders, or cockles, or Morecambe Bay shrimp? Morecambe Bay has a tragic history of drownings and the only real safe way of crossing the Bay is to go on the guided walks which are led between Morecambe and Flookburgh.
In contrast to the Priory, there are gaily decorated and blindingly lit tea shops , they almost seem out of place set against the sombre stones, especially in winter.
In addition to L’Enclume there are four excellent pubs serving Gastro-meals; the Red Lion, the Royal Oak, the Pig and Whistle and the one where we stayed: the Cavendish Arms.
The Cavendish Arms is an extremely friendly place with fantastic food and the breakfast, in particular, was very nice. It is a very old pub dripping with atmosphere. We did not have the best room as we booked it as a deal, many of the other rooms are more spacious and better furnished. They have a food Blackboard featuring specials but the routine menu is very good and includes the famous Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding. What flabbergasted me was that when I ordered brandy and hot chocolate we were told they had neither – come on!
Getting to Cartmel can be a delight. You can take the A6 and pass some attractive villages such as Garstang, an historic market town. Barton Grange Garden Centre is passed en route and a great place to pick up gifts, they also have a very good restaurant. There are many good walks on this route especially if you like walking on the flat along the canal.
The most attractive journey is through the Trough of Bowland and this route brings you up close to some lovely pubs such as the Inn at Whitewell (also featured in “the Trip”). Hope you find this of interest, makes a change from the usual places reported upon.

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