A haven for weary cyclists, would-be crafty types, and those just having a wander down from nearby Greystoke castle, Annie Swarbrick’s cycle café and tea garden is as wonderfully quirky as its all-encompassing name might suggest.
Stopping off to take up the timely and welcoming offer of fruity flapjacks and filtered water from the self-catering ‘bike barn’, we ventured next door into the garden after becoming intrigued by the plethora of wire bird sculptures in progress. Aside from feeding hungry bikers and animal sculptors, the Tea Garden is also home to a broad range of craft workshops – take your pick from art, textile, cookery or more random options like ‘Artisan Cheese-making’ or ‘Blacksmith for a Day’.
By opening up her home to craft enthusiasts and passing cyclists, Annie has succeeded in creating a café with a real community feel. Even the bathroom was adorned with thank you cards from previous grateful patrons.
If, like we did, you stumble across it whilst cycling from Whitehaven to Newcastle on the C2C cycle route, then use the exercise as an excuse to account for more calories. I’m sure Annie’s crumbly homemade tiffin was exclusively responsible for getting me up the behemoth that is Hartside Hill.
The Cycle Café Tea Garden opens from Easter through to the end of September to non cyclists at quirky times so be sure to check online before visiting.
Images by Lara Hayward