No – it’s not a walkers’ mirage. It’s a roadside cafe on wheels serving piping hot teas and coffees or mulled wine on a freezing cold day just yards from Derwentwater.
Lockdown three and sub-zero temperatures haven’t stopped Dawn Gibson from running her mobile vegan coffee business on the Borrowdale road where grateful walkers have been stopping to snap up her take-away winter warmers.
A former Buttermere Youth Hostel worker, she created her New Dawn Vegan Coffee Shop last summer by installing a coffee-making machine in a converted car which she has dubbed Gloria after the make of the espresso machine fitted into the back of the vehicle, now minus back seats.
“It’s easier to be COVID-safe when you’re an outdoor-only, takeaway-only business and I have found most of my customers are very respectful of social distancing and mask-wearing,” said Dawn, 53.
“I have hand sanitiser available, a table which acts as a safe boundary for social distancing and my face mask, when necessary.
“My doggie customers are still allowed some of my vegan doggie treats and one of the great perks of this ‘job’ – besides the wonderful people I meet every day – is the amount of waggy tails I see,” added the coffee car owner, who lives in Ambleside.
Dawn and Gloria first started trading from the bottom of the track up to Barrow House, home of the Derwentwater Independent Hostel, back in August, primarily at weekends, bank holidays and school holidays.
She added: “Now that more local people are becoming regulars and looking out for me, I don’t want to let them down so I can be found there most other days, hopefully providing some positive vibes in these uncertain times, catching up on local news and enjoying the tranquil beauty of Borrowdale.
“I have considered finding other pitches and there are certainly plenty of options if I want to be busier but I love the location of Barrow House, right on the lakeshore, and I have the loveliest customers, both in our locals and our visitors between lockdowns.
“I feel very blessed to be able to continue safely doing a job which I love during lockdown and am grateful to all of my followers for their support and belief in Gloria and I.”
Hostel manager Tim Butcher said: “While the hostel is closed, it’s great to have Dawn selling coffees, drinks and snacks to passers-by, as well as giving out information about the hostel here and directing walkers on to the permissive paths through the hostel grounds, past Barrow Cascade Falls and on to Ashness Bridge.”
Dawn gave up a regular job last February to go solo.
She said: “I was in need of a change and fancied doing something where I was my own boss, could gently advocate for the animals and which gave me independence.
“I was originally thinking of starting a mobile food truck, as I had 30 years of experience in the catering and hospitality industry.
“I’m not a natural business person. I’m more of a people – and animal – person, so there was no well-thought-out business plan, just a desire to have a go and have some fun, with a relatively low financial outlay in case it didn’t work or I hated it!
“I was driven to help people see for themselves that vegan food and drink isn’t all about camomile tea, lentils and broccoli.”