Cowan Bridge tea room is a hit in the Far East

The Westmorland Gazette: Geoff Hodgson and Stephen Garry with cake and tea refreshments at Cowan Bridge Geoff Hodgson and Stephen Garry with cake and tea refreshments at Cowan Bridge

JAPANESE tourists have been making a bee line to an off-the-beaten track tea room since it featured in a national magazine.

The cafe, in Cowan Bridge, between Kirkby Lonsdale and Ingleton, has become a magnet for Far Eastern visitors since getting a glowing review.

Owner Geoff Hodgson first became aware of the faraway fame his tea room was receiving when several Japanese tourists called in en route from London to Edinburgh.

“We had a couple of customers call in who said they were visiting London, Edin-burgh and Cowan Bridge,” said Mr Hodgson.

“I said: ‘That’s a bit of an unusual itinerary’ and they said my tea room had been recommended in this national magazine. They showed me the page and it had photos of the inside and everything.

“He said they had come because of this article.”

Mr Hodgson took over the Cowan Bridge Village Stores three years ago, with partner Stephen Garry, after retiring following 34 years of military service in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, North-ern Ireland and the Falklands.

They opened the tea room shortly afterwards and have attracted tourists from Japan ever since, including Kenichi Oka, who emailed the page from the magazine to Mr Hodgson.

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“We get a lot of tourists stopping by and word of mouth in Britain seems to have helped,” said the 52-year-old.

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“But it was quite amazing to see a full-page piece on it in a Japanese magazine – complete with photos that someone had taken while they were here.

“Obviously it was fantastic to think this customer had diverted his trip to visit be-cause of this article.”

Around 10 Japanese visitors have since built South Lakeland into their itinerary, calling in at the tea room as a result of the review. Now Mr Hodgson has been told to expect more.

“If it helps the local economy then great,” he added. “I’m just glad people like what we’re offering.”

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