Josh Bishop heads to Keswick, taking in the Saddleback Café as he goes. Run by cyclists, for cyclists.
Keswick lies North of the Derwent Water, in the shadow of the mighty Skiddaw. The Lake District is a hotbed of outdoor pursuits from MTB to climbing to sailing to running.
The Saddleback Café lies just off Keswick’s pedestrianised high street, away from the Moot Hall, and offers a tranquil, bicycle flavoured haven for riders of outdoor disciplines; road, MTB, cross. The coffee is strong and the cake selection would rival the WI (and all this just footsteps from the Pencil museum!).
Your first impression on entering the café, is that it is run by cyclists, for cyclists. You can truly refresh in this sanctuary, mid- or post-ride, flick through past editions of Dirt and soak in the inspiring atmosphere created by walls adorned with historical jerseys of local cycling clubs.
Like every sport in the Lake District, the local history is at the heart of every story.
We placed our order and climbed the stairs – not a problem for those in SPDs – to eat on the first floor where there were just two tables but an extremely comfy sofa, which you sink deep into. Perhaps more suited to post-ride napping than mid-ride respite, it contrasted the dark Carvetii coffee blend, which was a perky pick-me-up.
The café as a whole is fairly small, and so might pose a problem if arriving with a large group; think ahead and form a grupetto or try a solo breakaway from your pack several miles down the road to ensure you get a good seat.
Ensuring that the serving staff bring your coffee and cake out first is definitely worth the effort. There is also little in the way of outdoor seating, but a great biker-friendly alternative are the outdoor bike racks with locks if you need them.
The coffee cake was ginormous
When our cakes arrived, our mouths hit the floor. The coffee cake was ginormous and the rhubarb meringue was a disc of splendour with magnificent peaks rising from the sponge base like the mountains which surrounded us. We tried to savour the taste but, despite our best efforts, it seems the large servings here do not last long.
After a short, but effective, rest we couldn’t resist indulging in the unique selection of bicycle themed merchandise as we paid for our snacks.
One such item was a handmade card – a Giro d’italia print card – by a local artists which I gave Nick (Chief Editor of Le Bidon) for his birthday. Foolishly, I gave it to him before an evening ride and he folded it in half and put in his jersey pocket. At least he admired it first.