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May 29, 2013 05:04 AM

stop off point between london and cartmel?

I've booked in for the 2 night L'enclume experience in late July (so excited!) and am looking at a stop off point en route to break our drive on the way up or back - has any got any particular recommendations?

it would be a Sunday if on the way up (pref an evening booking or poss late lunch, we'd stay over locally, arriving at L'enclume on the Monday) or a Wednesday if on the way back, again late lunch or evening booking.

all ideas welcome!

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  1. abby, where are you driving from so we know where the journey would be classed as a break?

    I'm sure Harters can throw in some really good suggestions around the NW. One place that my food writer mate went nuts about last autumn was a place called the Freemasons at Wiswell. Hopefully Harters has some feedback on that.

    1. Ignore that, I just saw the title! Work PC is still on a really old browser so doesn't display things least I'll use that as my excuse!

      You definitely want somewhere out in the country a bit then so you're not having to drive into big cities. Are you planning on going across to Birmingham and then up M6 or would you go up the M1/A1 and cut across?

      1. Route please, Abby.

        My driving trips "dahn sarf" have a Richmond/Brentford destination so my route is M40/M6.

        That way might suggest the Bluebell at Henley in Arden (Warwickshire) which is a decent enough gastropub. Lovely little town as well.

        The southern part of the M6 is not too good for food and I'd suggest that the Manchester area would be best bet.

        North of the metro area, Northcote would be a stand out recommendation. It's a hotel as well with good deals from time to time.

        But there are several very decent pubs round that bit of the county. A couple owned by Northcote's Nigel Haworth. Freemasons at Wiswell is certainly bang-on for pub eating -

        1. I'm sorry, I don't drive and don't know what route options we have - I did ask where geographically I should be looking but was told it didn't matter and just to see where i fancied. we're coming from se london and the options are, according to "my driver" (and long suffering OH), to get the train or fit in an overnight stay en route to make life easier.

          so i thought i'd investigate stopping off options first. my original thoughts were Da Piero or Fraiche but Fraiche seems impossible to get into and they both have slightly limited hours which doesn't work particularly well with the days. i may also have another opprtunity to go to Da Piero (yay!).

          i wondered about Hand & Flowers but am sure that will be equally impossible to book and probably doesn't take us far north enough. my OH suggested Ludlow but I'm not sure where specifically would be nice - it's not really on my radar these days. he also suggested Sat Bains which i'm a bit meh about, having not loved it previously.

          i'm as happy with a more casual pub option than anything fancy - i think the main thing is to try and take advantage of being in a car as we usually do city breaks/ rely on puiblic transport.

          that's lots of probably very unhelpful thoughts so I'll just look up the places you've mentioned so far!

          8 Replies
          1. re: abby d

            Assuming the driver wanted to consider the M1 route and doesnt mind a 20 mile detour, let me throw in Fischer's Baslow Hall, at Baslow, Derbyshire. Quite traditional, quite formal - definite contrast to L'Enclume.

            So, subject to any route guidance you want to offer, I'm going to stake my Chow reputation (which ain't much) on Fischers or Northcote, depending on whether the driver wants M1 or M6.

            1. re: Harters

              thank you Harters - i shall see if there is any more guidance forthcoming when i mention specific options and the reality of "we can go wherever you want" sinks in!

              1. re: abby d

                One of my friends really enjoyed Simon Radley Abby - might not be exactly what you're looking for.

                Are you eating at L'Enclume two nights or are you doing Rogan & Co for one of them?

                1. re: ManInTransit

                  Even though it's just down the road, it's some years since we ate at "Simon Radley at the Grosvenor". Much as we thought we had a good dinner, there was nothing that made me want to rush back. Food was fine - it's the sort of place that, although Cheshire is a cheese making county, the whole selection on the trolley was French. Service was stiff and formal. Room was awful - big, virtually empty, with the few customers corralled into one corner - you could never be anywhere else than a hotel dining room. .

                  1. re: Harters

                    I happily defer Harters given my recommendation is second hand.

                    Personally I would go for Sat Bains but 2/3 long format tasting menus is a row can be quite a struggle I find.

                    What about Le Champignon Sauvage? Not too far along the route though.

                  2. re: ManInTransit

                    we're at l'enclume one night and rogan & co the other.

                    plans have changed a bit as we've decided to come home via/stay over in Birmingham as we'll call in to see friends who have acquired a new home, new baby and new dog in recent months!

                    so, I'm looking at easy lunch stop-off points on m6 route so need to look at everything afresh! I think I want casual options.

                    I also asked a friend who grew up in/regularly visits Cumbria and her thoughts, in case it is useful for anyone else, were:

                    "If you wanted to stop over somewhere recommend the Stag at Titley (Herefordshire) never stayed there as go from Ludlow but lovely food & nice place. Much further north - the Inn at Whitewell beautiful rooms & fab location in gorgeous countryside ( also nice food).

                    Near Cartmel and southern lakes avoid main road & Windermere as v busy. There is a very small road running along east coast of Coniston which is right on the lake and very quiet. Nice pubs not far from you are the Masons Arms at Cartmel Fell, the Punchbowl at Crosthwaite and the Bay Horse at Canal Foot at Ulverston ( lovely views on the Bay - do not be put off by the road leading to it ...)"

                    1. re: abby d

                      We stopped for lunch at The Stag in Titley, coming back from Hay-on-Wye last year, and I agree with your friend- it is definitely recommended, and absolutely worth a bit of a detour if you are in the vague general vicinity.

                      1. re: Palladium

                        i think the detour may be a bit much this time but I shall keep it on the list, thanks palladium

            2. Abby

              Noting that you say casual pub may be fine, I can offer several very decent dining pubs in Cheshire, none of which will be too far off the M6. Post if that suits and I'll draw up a list.


              12 Replies
              1. re: Harters

                hi john, having just talked it through I think we're going to choose between the following, unless you have any other suggestions - freemasons, inn at whitewell, northcote,

                1. re: abby d

                  Of those three (and they are a very good three), I'd be picking Northcote every time.

                  They are closing for a refit but will reopen in mid-July.

                  They've more than one lunch menu - a 3 course cheapo (which is what we always have), 4 course "gourmet" or the carte. The website almost always has a discount voucher for £5 or £10 off. That gets you the 3 courser for around £23 which I rate as one of life's foody bargains.

                  1. re: Harters

                    okay, 'tis booked! thanks :)

                    I think we'll hit the inn at whitewell one day, even if it's just for a drink as the setting looks stunning.

                    1. re: abby d

                      It's lovely - and their fish pie is great. The dining room is nice enough, with views over the river Hoddle, but I prefer eating in the bar - I don't think you can book in the bar though, so you need to take pot luck.

                      1. re: Theresa

                        thanks Theresa - i'm really looking forward to it!

                2. re: Harters


                  I am heading up to north Cumbria as well and would love your recommendations on pubs in Cheshire. Would you mind sharing? Thank you!


                  1. re: suy


                    These have all fed us pretty well over the years.

                    Boot Inn, Willington
                    Duke of Portland, lach Dennis
                    Hand & Trumpet, Wrinehill
                    Sutton Hall, Macclesfield
                    Swettenham Arms, Swettenham
                    Bull's Head, Mottram
                    Pheasant, Burwaldsey
                    Dysart Arms, Bunbury
                    Bells of Peover, Lower Peover
                    Fox & Barrel, Tarporley
                    Swan Inn, Kettleshulme
                    Bull's Head, Mobberley
                    Grosvenor Arms, Aldford
                    Lord Clyde, Kerridge.
                    Plough & Flail, Mobberley

                    1. re: Harters


                      Thanks so much for the prompt reply. I am heading from London to Maryport with 2 small children (3 and 6) and my parents so am getting quite nervous about how to make the trip! Am thinking I will take the M6 up and am trying to minimize driving time as much as possible. What would you suggest would be a good bet close to the M6 with my brood, my love for good food and hopefully at least half a pint since I will be driving! Thank you!


                      1. re: suy

                        Forgot the Old Hall at Sandbach. Either there or the Hand & Trumpet at Wrinehill. Both in the Brunning & Price stable - a small local pub chain that consistently does better than average food.

                        Sandbach is a mile or so from Junction 17 and Wrinehill around 5 from J16.


                        B & P pubs always have a slow roast lamb dish on the menu (varies from pub to pub and time to time) that I always find to be a belter of a pub dish. I'm generally a big fan of their food.

                        1. re: Harters

                          Thank you - you are a life saver!
                          I am guessing I am asking a dumb question but as you may guess, I am not from around here - what is the big barn website?

                          1. re: suy


                            And, noting the need for a swift half, B&P are pretty good on their beer ranges - usually having local stuff as well as the better known ones

                            Should mention that B&P are used to kids - although they are not kiddy pubs, if you see what I mean. There's always a menu of "smaller things for children" and their "light bites" are portioned OK for the adventurous young eater.

                            1. re: Harters

                              Thanks again for everything. Setting off at 10 tomorrow morning and am still trying to get organized! Good thing my kids love to eat. My parents aren't used to long drives so it'll be interesting! Will let you know how it goes.