The Squirrel’s Pantry: A new ‘Leece’ of Life

Nestled in a snug woodland area with stunning views of the Lake District hills lies the Squirrel’s Pantry; serving up freshly ground coffee, homemade cakes, and lunches, the Squirrel’s Pantry in Cockermouth offers more than just delicious food.

Linda Leece, from Stainburn, Workington has been running the Squirrel’s Pantry for the past seven weeks.  After selling the Byre Tearooms in Bootle where she and her three daughters, Amy, Laura and Katy worked together for more than 10 years, the family took over the tearooms at Oakhurst Garden Centre and gave it a new lease of life.

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Linda said: “It has been just over six weeks since we took over, and it’s going really well. We have carried over a lot of the dishes we served at The Byre as they were popular, and we are sticking with the traditional lunches and homemade cakes and desserts. We have just given the place a freshen up.”

On arrival, beautiful blooms of daffodils line the walkway up to the renovated Victorian greenhouse, and if you are lucky, you might just see a red squirrel or two feeding on the nuts left out by Linda and her team.

Its patio balcony overlooking the River Cocker provides a wonderful seating area where nature watchers can enjoy spotting the wildlife while sampling some of the dishes cooked by the mother and daughter team.


Seating up to 32 people, the Squirrel’s Pantry offers traditional lunches including goats’ cheese and caramelised onion quiche, homemade cauliflower and cheddar soup, and specials including chicken liver pate served with their own sweet chilli jam – which I know from personal experience, is mouth-wateringly good.  

The vintage feel of the tearoom is the perfect setting for a spot of afternoon tea in the sunshine, or if the Cumbrian weather lives up to expectations, it is also the ideal place to hide away while grabbing a hot bowl of homemade soup and listening to the rain rap against the windows.

A selection of homemade cakes including ‘mum’s sticky gingerbread’, lemon slice, and coffee and walnut cake are displayed on the counter, tempting anyone’s willpower the moment you enter the country style tearoom.

Linda’s eldest daughter Amy, who was elbows deep in flour whipping up some delicious looking scones at the time of my visit, said: “It was my mum who taught me to bake; I really enjoy helping out when I have the time and working with my family is good fun.”

Much of the original building has been left intact, with the potting shed/boiler house becoming the kitchen. Set alongside the wooded drive way into the Oakhurst Garden Centre, the tearoom has good access for the elderly and disabled.

Kate Leece 03

Since taking over the business, the ladies have received some wonderful comments from visitors. One customer wrote:  “Lovely tearoom, lovely staff, gorgeous scones, and I saw my very first red squirrel;  I will be back next time I am in Cumbria – enjoyed our meal and chatting with the staff.”

The Squirrel’s Pantry is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch, and afternoon teas.

Find them on Facebook and TripAdvisor. 


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