THE hottest days of the year ensured businesses at tourism hotspots in the Lake District enjoyed a bumper bank holiday weekend.

Visitors flocked in large numbers to relax under a clear blue sky in locations such as Bowness and Ambleside.

Michael Podmore, assistant manager at Sugar and Spice Cafe and Bistro, Windermere, said the eatery enjoyed a ‘record-breaking’ day for takings on Monday.

“There have been long queues from opening till closing, from Saturday to Monday,” he said.

“Staff are happy, a little bit tired, but we’ve given them some rest days now.”

David Lewis, manager of The Pier coffee shop, Bowness, said the periods of enforced closure amid lockdown restrictions were ‘horrendous’.

“We lost a fortune and it’s impossible to make up,” he said.

“The staff are all glad to be back, very pleased.

“Thankfully we didn’t have to let go of any staff - all were furloughed or I made up the rest.”

Richard Leafe, chief executive of the Lake District National Park Authority, stressed the importance, for tourists, of ‘leaving no trace’ and planning ahead.

“The bank holiday saw a welcome return of visitors back to the national park,” he added.

“Some areas were very busy with plenty of people enjoying the good weather.”

Jim Walker, chairman of Cumbria Tourism, said: “With the added bonus of sunshine, this is a really positive start to the season and it has been fantastic to see businesses getting back to what they do best.

“At the same time, it’s vital that visitors continue to plan and book ahead to ensure they can make the most of their time in the Lake District - bearing in mind that many tourism businesses are still operating at reduced capacity.”

Mr Walker said that, to spread people out across the county ‘for the benefit of all’ , Cumbria Tourism was encouraging people to explore less-well known areas. This is in line with the organisation’s ‘attract and disperse' policy to encourage people to discover areas away from popular hotspots.

He referenced Morecambe Bay and the Cumbrian coastline, Carlisle, Hadrian’s Wall, the North Pennines and the Yorkshire Dales as alternatives.

Kendal was also popular with visitors over bank holiday, with Brad Muir, owner of Brew Brothers in Highgate, saying the café had been ‘crazy busy’.

“It has been vital to our business after the past year as I don’t think I could have lasted much longer,” he said.

“Staff are feeling great to be back. I am thankful for every one of them.”