Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Legless in the Lakes (Day 3)

If there's one thing I enjoy in this world it's proving my mother wrong - I mean who doesn't? She reckons I never listen to a word anyone says but today is proof that I do.  Sometimes.  Yesterday the lovely Jill Durnford left a comment suggesting we try visiting the chocolate shop & cafe in Orton before moving on to Kirkby Stephen and this morning that's exactly what we did.  I spent the entire time in an incredibly good mood labouring under the mistaken impression that it meant I could avoid a garden centre today.  Turns out I was wrong, but in a good way.

We'd never been to Orton before, but we had been close.  I can't believe that on several occasions in the past I've missed the large "Chocolate Factory This Way" sign at the Tebay exit on the M6, I knew the fells were distracting but seriously, I may need an eye test.  Orton is incredibly easy to find if, unlike me, you pay attention to your surroundings.  It's only a few miles from the M6 along a delightfully roller coaster style road - the sort where you can't resist shouting "weeeeeeee" as you zoom up and down the hills, much to the annoyance of your passengers, though I find it's the part where I take my hands of the wheel and wave them daringly in the air as we crest each summit which really freaks them out.

Very soon after.
Orton is a very typically pretty little Cumbrian village.  It has the huge benefit of no parking charges, or traffic wardens (apparently), though that does mean there tends to be a bit of a free for all for any available space.  We visited on a soggy Tuesday morning, heaven knows what it's like on a sunny bank holiday.  The chocolate factory is easy to find as it's slap bang in the centre of the village in what was once the old school;  I'm sure many of the local children are still frustrated that they're missing out on being educated in a chocolate factory.  There's not a massive amount to see and do, and there are disappointingly few oompah loompahs, but there is a very pleasant shop and a wonderful cafe which serves hot chocolate so delightful it was barely on the table before it was devoured.  Once our bellies and our bags were well and truly stuffed with chocolate we rolled out of the shop and headed for Kirkby Stephen.
Moon setting over deer in a park near Beetham.
Taken a few days before today's visit.

I think it's fair to say we didn't see the town at it's best; the dull grey misery of the morning was punctuated only by the occasional torrential downpour, not ideal conditions for sightseeing.  We had a mooch around the Emporium and a brief wander along the high street before we decided to call it quits and head for another garden centre.  This time our horticultural trail took us south to Beetham Nurseries in, well, Beetham.  We'd stopped there briefly in the summer to pick up a piece for our hosepipe and I could have sworn I spotted some plants out of the corner of my eye, so our hopes were high.  We weren't disappointed;  this time the chrissy decs etc. were slotted in around real gardening stuff rather than the other way around and we passed a fun half hour poking around the main shopping area before making a dash for it across the outdoor plants section to the cafe.  It had been nearly 90 minutes since our previous drink so things were getting desperate.  Replete, we took one last turn around the shop where I purchased some fine Parmesan biscuits (an essential addition to any garden) and headed for home.

For someone who is usually irritatingly well organised I'm rather enjoying this "last minute, let's see what someone suggests" approach to sightseeing.  We've got a couple of ideas lined up for the next 3 days, but I am wide open to other ideas.  Especially if they don't involve garden centres.


  1. Visit Cartmel? sticky toffee pudding, award winner coffee shop, the Priory, stroll on the race course, nice shops & pubs for refreshments. (no garden centre). Although the one nearby in Grange (next to car park- park literally outside) has lots of REAL PLANTS- fab prices too, muchos less expensive than big name ones. Hazelmere cafe in Grange for Beesting cakes. yum. And stollen. Lovely cafe there too for another drink or lunch. have fun!

  2. Thanks for that. We live in Grange & I agree completely with all your comments. May nip over to Cartmel though - good suggestion! :-)

  3. thats a cracking image with the moon :)

  4. Thanks Phil. Got it on Fri last week on my way to work.

  5. One of the unusual things about Kirkby Stephen are the free flying parrots and macaws. I don't know who owns them but I've often seen them (and even more frequently heard them)in the town. Myabe they keep them in when it's cold but they're definitely there in the summer.