Thursday 23 April 2015

Review - The Watermill, Little Salkeld, Cumbria

Recently my friend Marian was visiting me and we decided to check out The Watermill at Little Salkeld. Now, for me this was a challenge, I'd tried to find Little Salkeld before and never found it, and I am good at directions, it is just not signposted when you approach from Carlisle. We found this had not changed, and were just about to give up hope when suddenly there was the sign saying "Little Salkeld" yes! Now to find The Watermill, but that was not difficult as the village is small. We drove through the complex to the car park at the rear. I'd read up about the site and reviews were varied, the main negative point was that the place was very untidy and I must agree with this, there was rubbish all over, even an old bathroom suite dumped in a corner of the car park! It did not create a good initial impression.

My meal at The Watermill cafe
We were hungry so we first went into the cafe which served organic vegetarian food. It was small but nicely decorated with a rustic atmosphere with old beams across the ceiling. They had their own flour etc for sale, plus breads and various other organic produce in the small shop area.

I chose to have the pizza and Marian had the mushroom quiche. We did not have to wait long for our food and both came with tricolour pasta, lentils and salad accompanied by three types of their own bread. The pizza was on a wholemeal base which was delicious and though thick was very light. Marian said her quiche was very good too. The bread was also lovely, I'm a bit of a breadaholic and this homemade organic bread was a treat - and also very filling.

We then explored the mill itself, it is the only working watermill in Cumbria. The present mill dates
from 1760 though there has been a building on the site for many hundreds of years. We went into the area where the flour was being ground and could see the finished product pouring out of the machine. It was noisy and dusty but fascinating, it felt ancient, like stepping into the past. I could imagine this amazing piece of machinery working away like this for over 250 years providing flour for the local community and now it is still working away and it's organic flour is being sent to outlets all over the country.

We left the room and walked round to the back where the two waterwheels were. They are powered by a millrace that is fed from a beck nearby and it had a surprisingly strong current. The water was turning the largest wheel at a very fast rate and the sheer power of it was palpable and awe-inspiring. The noise of the water and the wheel turning must have been a familiar sound in past times, again to me it felt like a window to the past.

I really enjoyed my visit to The Watermill at Little Salkeld. The cafe was lovely, had a pleasant atmosphere and served wonderful food. The actual milling area was fascinating and it is so good that it has been renovated and preserved to give visitors an idea of what a working watermill was like.

My only reservation about the place was the untidiness and rubbish in the outside areas. A lot of it just needs to be put in a skip and taken away, it really detracts from what is an otherwise great place to visit. However, I am aware that the mill has only recently changed hands and hopefully in time the new owners will sort out the outside areas and then it would be a perfect pace to visit.

Address:  The Watermill,
                Little Salkeld,
                Cumbria CA10 INN


Wednesday 15 April 2015

Cafe Review - Orton Grange, Cumbria

Last Sunday my friend and I went to the cafe at Orton Grange for a late lunch. The cafe is part of a complex containing a shop, a branch of Cumbria's well- known Cranston's butchers, a hairdresser, a pool and holiday accommodation. The building is a converted farm building (Orton Grange takes its name from the working dairy farm next door) which has been tastefully renovated with the original stone walls and oak beams alongside more modern decor. The cafe is on two levels, the lower one with tables and chairs and the counter and upstairs a mixture of the same and comfy leather couches. We managed to grab one of the leather couches even though the place was very busy.

Photo from Orton Grange Website
We chose what we wanted and I went downstairs to order, there was a queue and it took a long time to get served, they could have done with more than one person serving. But after ordering we didn't have to wait too long for our food, I had the Soup Combo, a bowl of  vegetable soup and a ham sandwich. The soup was definitely homemade and absolutely delicious, bursting with all kinds of vegetables. I had chosen ham for the accompanying sandwich, as I'd hoped, it had thick slices of Cranston's roast ham in it and again was very good. My friend Jayne had a baked potato with tuna and onion and she enjoyed that very much too.

The cafe has a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere, upstairs especially and, if you want it, there is the bonus of free WiFi. We sat and chatted for a long time, it's the kind of place where you can take your time.

The prices are reasonable, my soup and sandwich with a pot of tea cost £7.50, and Jayne's meal was a similar price. The menu isn't big or fancy, but Orton Grange is an excellent place to go for good wholesome and fresh food. The cakes looked good too but we were good and resisted!

Address:   Orton Grange
                Great Orton
                Carlisle CA5 6LA