Mae’s Tearoom and The Lanes Cafe

After dondering around Caldbeck (described in the previous post), we hopped into the car and drove across moorland that reminded me of the south-west of Scotland. (Although separated by the Solway Firth, the English moorland is not all that far from the south-west of Scotland as the crow flies, so I suppose the similarities were not too surprising.)

We were bound for the village of Uldale and Mae’s Tearoom which is, according to Wikipedia, the biggest employer in the area. The tearoom included a gallery and shop, all housed in a Victorian building that used to be the village school.


Pushing open the front door, we found ourselves in an entrance area containing a visitor’s book and various items for sale, with the tearoom through a doorway beyond.


The tearoom was fairly busy (I took the photos after we’d had our lunch) and the room was bigger and brighter than I had been expecting. There were large windows, a high ceiling and plenty to look at on the walls.


We sat down at a free table and perused the menu after ordering apple juices and water.


In addition to the printed items, there were a number of specials which included two soups and several different curries.

The assistants both went for tomato soup, which came with two big chunks of freshly baked white bread.

tomato soup with bread

Delightful assistant no.2 opted to swap his bread for a couple of tuna sandwich doorsteps.

tomato soup with tuna doorsteps

It was definitely soup weather, and I might have gone for that had there not been the enticement of a vegetable curry with rice. I counted nine different vegetables in my meal.

veggie curry

Our tasty lunches were enhanced by the lovely surroundings and the friendly and helpful staff. I’m not usually a fan of music in tearooms, but on this occasion the soft strains of Classic FM in the background added to my enjoyment of the experience.

Very nicely filled up after our food, we visited the facilities before going on our way. Harking back to the days when the building had been a Victorian school, the toilet block was a separate entity outside in the playground.


This brought back a childhood memory for delightful assistant no.1.

When she was in the infant class (as it happens, also in Cumbria, where she spent her early childhood), her teacher had told the children that if they wanted to go to the toilet they must do so during playtime, and not during class. One day, after playing outside and not having taken advantage of the toilets, the young Elizabeth sat in her class bursting for the loo. Being a timid wee mite she didn’t like to ask her teacher if she could be excused for the needful, so she invented a terrible pain in her ear. Her teacher agreed that she should be sent home, and off she trotted post haste.

You might have thought she’d have made straight for the toilet block, but unfortunately it was in direct view of the classroom windows. In fear of her teacher jalousing the real reason behind the claimed earache, she dashed out of the school grounds and along the road towards home. Unable to reach her destination in time, she squatted in a gutter where she experienced great relief.

One hurdle had been jumped but another lay in wait at home. Having thought of a plan, however, she was well prepared for the inevitable question.

‘Elizabeth,’ said her mother, surprised to see her young daughter so soon. ‘What are you doing home at this time?’

‘I was such a good girl that I got sent home early,’ came the reply.

My granny’s mother-in-law was staying with them at the time, a situation that I gather was not altogether restful. Having other fish to fry, she didn’t question her daughter’s remarkable claim and little Elizabeth got away with the charade.

From Uldale, we drove on through some lovely countryside and ended up in the market town of Cockermouth. By this time our lunches had settled and we all felt we had space for a little something.

We parked in the main street and wound our way along to The Lanes Cafe which was situated at the end of a quiet pedestrian area.


The Lanes Cafe, Cockermouth.

Acting on advice from the waitress, delightful assistant no.1 ordered a lemon meringue traybake,

lemon meringue traybake

while her spouse went for a chocolate peppermint slice.

chocolate peppermint slic e

I had a cherry and almond scone, washed down nicely with a pot of Darjeeling tea.
cherry and almond scone

When we had finished our treats we browsed an interesting wall of history outside, which had attracted quite a few other visitors.

Cockermouth history wall

As well as being full of facts about the town, the display mentioned various famous people with connections to Cockermouth.

The poet William Wordsworth was born in Cockermouth in 1770 and his old house, which is open to visitors during the summer, is now owned by the National Trust. Eminent scientist John Dalton (1766-1844) was born just outside Cockermouth and went on to have an illustrious and wide-ranging career. He has a lunar crater named after him, as well as a street in Manchester and a township in Ontario. Last but not least, infamous mutineer from the Bounty, Fletcher Christian, hailed from near Cockermouth and has a pub named after him in the main street.

history wall 2

After a day full of interest, but rather raw and chilly weather, we were glad to get back to our warm holiday home: a beautifully converted old grainstore on a dairy farm (you can visit the website here).

Old Grainstore

One of my chief delights of the holiday was seeing cows every day from my bedroom window.



20 thoughts on “Mae’s Tearoom and The Lanes Cafe

  1. How lovely! I like the look of the tearoom, especially the lemon meringue slice. What a nice idea. Those old loos brought back a memory for me, too – when I first started school, the loo block was just the same as that, although we were soon moved to a newly built school with indoor loos! Your Mum has a very inventive imagination – well done to her for her well-executed plan! 🙂

  2. Hi Lorna, I so much enjoyed reading your post. I have sent a link to Mark from Mae’s Tearooms too! We are thrilled that you all had an enjoyable getaway and that you enjoyed your accommodation in The Old Grainstore. I have added a link to this lovely site from our website too, under the ‘Local links’ tab on the home page. Best wishes and many thanks from Joanne 🙂

    • Thanks very much, Joanne, that’s most kind of you. We all really enjoyed staying at The Old Grainstore, you’ve done a lovely job on the conversion and you made us feel very welcome. 🙂

  3. Another beautifully written and photographed post Lorna 🙂
    I love tearooms with plenty to look at, and Mae’s certainly looked good in that respect 🙂
    The food looks delicious, especially that vegetable curry, my tummy is now rumbling from just looking at it, and it’s 11.20pm as I write this!!
    The toilets reminded me of the toilets at my primary school in Penzance (in the 1970’s), Cornwall has always been 20 years behind the times 🙂
    The tale about your Mum was excellent Lorna 🙂 You can picture her exactly.
    Wow!! You certainly know how to find all the best tearooms, those cakes look amazing!! I’ve had to go and get a bowl of cereal to relieve the hunger pangs!

    • Thank you, Andy. I’m sorry to have given you such hunger pangs, I know that late night munchies feeling all too well. Most interesting to hear that you had toilets like this at school, I’m amazed by how many people remember this kind of arrangement, even into the 1970s. I wonder if there are still schools with outdoor loos somewhere in the UK.

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