Best cakes of the waterways

We're celebrating national afternoon tea week - yes that's a thing - with a spread, jam-packed with our favourite places for tea and cakes along our 2,000 miles of waterways.

Afternoon tea and picnic, Standedge Tunnel Afternoon tea and picnic, Standedge Tunnel

Oh, but where to begin?

Afternoon tea is a light meal typically eaten between 3.30pm and 5.00pm. It's a custom originating from the English wealthy classes during Victorian period. By the end of the nineteenth century, afternoon tea developed to its current form and was enjoyed by both the upper and middle classes.

Back then, afternoon tea was accompanied by delicate savouries (typically cucumber or egg and cress sandwiches), bread and butter, possibly scones (with clotted cream and jam, as in cream tea), and usually cakes and pastries. The sandwiches are usually cut into small segments, either as triangles or fingers (also known as tea sandwiches). Biscuits are not usually served.

Nowadays, it can be as formal or informal as you like - but it's still a treat. And never more so than when served on a tiered stand with local, home-baked, deep-filled cakes beside a picturesque canal or river.

Here's our suggestions for the best places for afternoon tea...

Sitting at the side of the dock

Newly refurbished in the spring of 2017, the National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port is welcoming visitors to its Waterside Cafe and shop.

Waterside Cafe at the National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port Waterside Cafe at the National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port

Tunnel vision

With some of the best beer and BBQ offers, cream teas and a mound of other home-made offers, Standedge Tunnel Visitor Centre is always in competition with its sister attraction, Anderton Boat Lift.

Afternoon Tea at Standedge Tunnel & Visitor Centre Afternoon Tea at Standedge Tunnel & Visitor Centre

Well risen

The cafe at Anderton Boat Lift has a fantastic new menu for 2017. And boasts one of the truly unique views on our waterways. From picnics to paninis, your afternoon tea will take you on a whole new journey.

Anderton marquee and lift Anderton marquee and lift

Tea & cake cruises

Yes, our team at the National Waterways Museum, Gloucester Docks, have taken the concept of afternoon tea - and taken to the water.

Hop on board one of our scheduled cruises from Gloucester Docks running throughout the summer: 

Enjoy a freshly brewed tea or coffee with a slice of cake served in our spacious saloon on board King Arthur while cruising along the glourious Gloucester & Sharpness Canal.

Two boats outside Gloucester Waterways Museum Boat trips at Gloucester Waterways Museum

Last date edited: 15 August 2017