A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO we enjoyed Peter Sidwell’s Channel 4 cooking series Lakes on a Plate where the chef tracked down and cooked the National Park’s local ingredients. Despite our regular visits we’ve never been lucky enough to spot him filming on location and get chance to sample the finished product but his new cafe at the Rheged Centre, Penrith, is the next best thing.
As you can see from my sketch, the setting is appropriately scenic there; I sat and drew the waterfall and lime kiln seen through the floor to ceiling windows of the cafe as we tried the pea, mint and watercress soup with a crusty hunk of artisan bread.
But we weren’t quite getting the mint so I asked the waitress;
‘We wondered if it was another herb – tarragon perhaps?’
‘Or perhaps it was dried mint?’ chipped in Barbara.
The waitress looked stunned; ‘We always use fresh ingredients!’
They do; perhaps we were getting the pepperiness of the watercress!
We’re planning a diversion every time we visit the Lake District now because we’re curious to try some of the other items on the menu such as wild boar burger, posh fish finger sandwich, chocolate and churros and lemon meringue posset.
Before we set off home, I bought this 3D map of Northern England from the Pitlochery store by the piers at Bowness. I’ve always been fascinated by 3D models and a maps of the landscape and this one could have been tailor made for me as it is centred on our home in West Yorkshire (our return route is highlighted in red). The vertical scale is highly exaggerated – Pen y Ghent would tower over Mount Everest! – but having driven back today via the Kirkstone Pass, Ullswater and Whernside, this broad-brush interpretation really brings out the character of the landscape. It’s a clear, simple way to see how Pennines, Peak, Lakes and Snowdownia fit together.
At A4 size it’s something you can pick up and look at from slightly different angles, which makes it more vivid than a regular 2D map or even the 3D version of the same area in Google Earth which you can ‘fly around’ online. With this version you can run your fingers over the mountains, tracing your route.
For instance Whernside (737m), a ridge with a sphinx-like northern scarp between the Lune and Ribble valleys, the bulkiest and, to me, the most forbidding of the Three Peaks of the Yorkshire Dales, a dominating feature of our journey is equally conspicuous on the map.
Looking at the map makes me keen to get out a bit more and visit the four corners of my extended ‘local patch’; Snowdon in the south-west, Stranraer and The Rhins in the north-west corner, Cross Fell and Upper Teesdale to the north and, in the corner that I’m more familiar with from several trips to Norfolk, the Wash to the south-east.
I shall keep it knocking about in the studio and keep looking at it to choose the next place I’d like to visit. All within 170 miles from home (at least as the crow flies).
The Last Reef
Another 3D experience on our return trip; we have time to watch an IMAX movie in the cinema at Rheged, The Last Reef: Cities Beneath the Sea. Apart from being there, there can’t be a better way to experience the jellyfish lagoons of Pilau, the high cliffs of a Pacific atoll or the life of sea slugs and flatworms; who would have thought that slugs and flatworms could be so spectacular, like extravagant extra-terrestrials and flying carpets.
I’ll want to make an IMAX a regular feature of our Lakes visits now.
The widescreen, 3D cows of Castlerigg were equally impressive, and almost as wet . . .