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Sunday, 16 August 2015

A trip to The Lakes Distillery (tour and bistro) with children

We haven't visited the Lake District in a good few years and after a hectic few weeks I decided we needed to visit somewhere calm and serene for some much needed chill out time with the family. After a night of googling where to visit we decided to book Bistro at the Distillery for lunch. The Bistro has been open less than one year but I was excited to read that Terry Laybourne was Chef Consultant and that Head Chef Andrew Beaton has worked under Raymond Blanc and had the honour of cooking for her Majesty the Queen. At two courses for £15.95 the bistro seemed to offer good value for money and looked like the perfect place to visit and enjoy the surrounding countryside.


The Lakes Distillery is around 2 hours drive from the North East and we were there in no time. Just look at the view from the car park! We noticed that the distillery offered family friendly tours and children under 12 could join in for free if accompanied by an adult (adult tickets are £12.50). Tours last around 45 minutes and include discount vouchers. I thought it would be nice to try something different (especially as Harry and Heidi's inquisitive minds haven't received much input since the start of the holidays) and booked us a place on the next tour in the gift shop.

Alpaca Farm

Whilst waiting for the next tour to start we were advised to take a peek at the resident Alpaca's that live on the distillery site. Alpaca's are some of the funniest animals you will ever meet and our children loved watching them as we walked towards the river Derwent.




Distillery Tour

We were joined on our tour by six other grown ups but I did notice lots of children on other tours. We weren't allowed to take any photographs inside the distillery so I will do my best to describe the experience to you!


Our tour started with two short films - the first taking us on a journey from the source of the river Derwent right down to the Irish Sea. The film was perfectly pitched for all audiences and I loved the educational aspect of it all. Harry and Heidi were captivated.

The second film followed the tale of Lanty and other smugglers in the area from years gone by. The film is projected from inside his cave and we were informed of the real life cave location if we wanted to go and explore for ourselves and maybe discover some left over moonshine!


The processes that are used in the distillery were discussed and the tours are as interactive as possible with lots of opportunities to smell various ingredients and ask questions which were expertly handled. Our children were asked about various smells as the tour progressed and correctly identified 'the forest' (barrels in the warehouse) and 'Christmas cake' (a sherry infused barrel).



Once inside, the factory does get hot but you are welcome to step outside if it gets too much (it's not unbearable and everyone in our group was fine). Although the finer points of producing alcohol were probably lost on Harry and Heidi, it was exciting to see various machines in action with liquids bubbling away as we walked around. The warehouse tour was probably my favourite part - it was very exciting to hear about how the barrels had been imported from America as they are only allowed to be used once over there to keep the manufacturers in business! 

Whisky Tasting

At the end of our tour we were taken into the tasting room and invited to select either a gin, vodka or whisky to taste. It is worth noting that the whisky you see being produced in the distillery isn't ready yet so instead you get to try 'THE ONE' which is the first ever British Isles blended whisky.


The children weren't left out and were given orange juice to taste with guidance provided by the experts.



We were encouraged to ask any burning questions and after our tasting session could try some of the other spirits on offer too - they even brought out their recommended tonic water and made us the perfect G&T.

The tour ended just in time for our lunch reservation. I am really pleased we joined the tour - I learned so much about how different spirits are produced but what I really took away from the morning was how extremely passionate the whole team are about producing a high quality product. I have never met such experts in their field and their passion really does shine through making the tour even more enjoyable. It was really refreshing to see. Of course we couldn't leave the gift shop without purchasing a few samples to take home (you are given a discount voucher at the end of your tour).


Lunch at Bistro at the Distillery

The Bistro is housed in one of the old farm buildings which has been lovingly restored. The dining rooms are light and airy and there's a real buzz about the place as families, couples, colleagues and friends meet for lunch. There is a gorgeous outdoor terrace too which is a real sun trap and a lovely spot for an al fresco lunch or coffee.




The bistro is very welcoming towards children. They have their own menu featuring fish and chips (£5.95), chicken breast, new potatoes and peas (£5.95), cheese on toast (£4.00) or fish cake with chive sauce (£5.95). They were given a themed worksheet which fit in with our distillery tour and included tasks such as 'find Lanty's cave' and 'create your own shore boggle' which Harry and Heidi found to be much more engaging than the colouring sheets they are normally given in restaurants. 

Children's cheese on toast

I dined from the fixed price lunch menu which offers 2 courses for £15.95 whilst Steve dined from the day time menu which was also reasonably priced. The honest style of cooking where the flavours speak for themselves was definitely worth the journey, in fact it was one of the best lunches we have eaten this year.

Hand raised Pork Pie with Piccalilli

Prawn Salad with The One Whisky Marie Rose and Avacado

Haggis on toast with Duck Egg and HP Sauce

Confit of Duck with Garlic Potatoes and Honey Roasted Apricots

Lunch really hit the spot. We enjoyed a coffee in the sunshine before waving goodbye to the Alpaca's, collecting our gifts from the shop and driving the few minutes up the road the Bassenthwaite Lake which we learned during the tour is actually the only real lake in the Lake District. Despite it being a warm day we had the lake entirely to ourselves and it was wonderful collecting stones, practising our skimming and enjoying the tranquility by the lake shore.



We were about to head home but then I noticed a sign saying we were only 6 miles from Keswick - I've never been so persuaded everyone to visit one last lake. We parked on the banks of Derwentwater and again, the scenery was absolutely stunning. Keswick was A LOT busier than Bassenthwaite though and felt a lot more touristy with boat trips leaving every half an hour and kiosks selling food and drinks. Although Keswick was beautiful, I think I preferred the peace of Bassenthwaite if I'm honest.




We were back home in Northumberland for 6pm but felt like we had enjoyed a full day out and returned home fully rested. You can't help but feel relaxed when you've been out and about in such beautiful countryside. We all slept soundly that evening!

I've created a short 3 minute video featuring the highlights from our trip below and I'd love to hear what you think:-



You may have noticed that Jack hasn't featured in this post - he is a very boisterous 4 year old and has been displaying some really challenging behaviour lately which has sadly left me in tears a lot of the time (I'm sure we've all been there!). Granny offered to have him for the day so we could enjoy some quality time with Harry and Heidi. We couldn't have picked a more perfect place for a catch up with them both.  Jack would have loved meeting the Alpaca's, lunch in the bistro and visiting the lakes but I am pleased he wasn't on the tour as he just doesn't have the attention span for that yet. I would probably recommend the distillery tours for children aged 6 and over and stopping for lunch/coffee and meeting the Alpaca's for all ages.



Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall 

My Travel Monkey
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21 comments

  1. I haven't been to the Lakes for ages but it's so beautiful there - your day out sounds so much fun, and I love the way the distillery tour has been made so family-friendly #countrykids

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    1. It was lovely - I would recommend a trip to the lakes soon as it is just gorgeous! I'm planning a longer trip next year x

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  2. Wow, thanks so much for sharing this, I didn't know much about it before but now I definitely want to visit!

    My friend is OBSESSED with alpacas (she's a little strange!) .. on her wedding day she had alpacas on top of her wedding cake! So next time she's visiting this will definitely be the place to take her.

    The tour sounds great and that food ... wow! I need to watch the video but unfortunately am running late for work so must remember to watch it tonight!

    x

    PS - you're like me ... spot a sign to somewhere great down the road and suddenly the adventure extends!

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    1. OMG you DEFINITELY need to take your friend - there are about 20 Alpacas so she will love it! Never heard of an Alpaca wedding cake - extremely random!

      Oh yes....the adventure always extends :-)

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  3. I've been to the lakes two days ago, but I had no idea there is an alpaca farm. I love alpacas :) The distillery tour sounds very interesting too.

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    1. It was fantastic - next time you visit you should definitely pop in. Bassenthwaite lake is gorgeous too x

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  4. It looks like you all had a fab time exploring the Lakes for a day out, it's fab that there was so much to do with the kids. The two of them look so enthralled watching the alpacas wander around the fields, it's fab. It looks like the lakes were great places to stop and look around on the way home, Bassenthwaite looks a lot more appealing than Keswick but I'm sure they were both beautiful. Thanks for linking up with me on Country Kids.

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    1. Thanks for hosting - the lakes are stunning - I really need to make the effort to visit more often.

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  5. I haven't been to the Lakes since last year and am craving a trip north. This looks like a great day out, we sell some of the spirits from the distillery where I work so will have to pay them a visit!

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    1. Oh yes, it would be really interesting for you to see how the spirits are made - I loved the tour.

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  6. Ooh, this looks fabulous! We've been thinking of taking a trip somewhere when we visit my dad in Northumberland at the beginning of October and this would be perfect! #MondayEscapes

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    1. Yes - it is only a few hours drive so perfectly do-able in a day.

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  7. We are planning to visit the lakes in October, as part of our 50 counties challenge, I am in need of knowing where to go (it will be just me and hubby for that trip) so if you have any other tips I would love to have them? As never been and am super excited. I have noted that you preferred Bassenthwaite so will add that one to the list. I am definitely hoping to eat at the Bistro, love that sort of food, looks very yummy.

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    1. I love the idea of a 50 counties challenge! I'm no lakes expert but you definitely won't go wrong with lunch at the Bistro.

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  8. This looks wonderful and so many lovely photos =) I really want to go to the Lakes, I need to take Boo

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    1. You really should it is just such a gorgeous place to visit x

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  9. Nice post. My brother and I were just talking about wanting to locate kid-friendly distilleries and breweries in our neck of the woods - New York state - it was fun to read about your experience.

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  10. Sounds like you all had a great time! Liked your video by the way :) I hear you on the terrible four's! Our oldest is 8 (he would be old enough for this tour) but our middle child, a girl, is only 4 and boy, she's as spirited as they come!

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  11. How beautiful! I haven't been to the Lakes for years and I've never been with my kids - I'd actually forgotten quite how lovely it is there so thank you for reminding me! I love the the tour was so kid-friendly, including the orange juice at the end :) #globalkids

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  12. I love the Lake District and haven't been for ages. It looks beautiful and what a lot you packed in to a day out! (And I can totally relate to the 4 year old issue ;) ) Thank you for linking up with #GlobalKids :)

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I always love reading your thoughts and comments - Sam x

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