Grounds Cafe, Top Lodge, Fineshade Woods

by - August 21, 2017

Millie and I were attending one of the Stamford and Peterborough Sling Library sessions at Top Lodge, Fineshade Woods so I decided to try out the cafe there. 

First things first, it's important to know that there are parking charges here (£1.50 for 3 hours or £4 all day) which you can pay using cash or by phone using the PaySmarti system. If you plan on visiting regularly then it may be worth buying a 'Discovery Pass' for £30 a year then you can park for free. There's more than just a cafe here so you can easily spend 3 hours or more walking one of the trails, letting your children play in the large play area, using the bird hide or becoming a Gruffalo spotter using the augmented reality app.

Access into the cafe is really easy and there's so much space between the tables that you will have no difficulty in pushing the pram around or finding somewhere to leave it. There's also a conservatory-style area with seating and picnic tables outside so finding a table shouldn't be a problem. It was really quiet when I was there but I can imagine it gets pretty busy at times. 

There were four wooden highchairs which were clean with working straps (hooray!). They were a teeny bit low for the table but this didn't seem to bother Millie and she had no trouble having her snack. It's easier for Millie to use this style of highchair now she is much more stable so it doesn't fill me with dread anymore but if you're little one is a wobbly, then it might be worth using a highchair insert.

I was impressed with the menu here as it consisted of a large range of drinks, gelato, sandwiches, toasties, soup, muffins, cakes and cookies. When I placed my order, I was being a little fussy and asked if they could do a vanilla latte frappe without the vanilla and the lady said this was definitely possible (it wasn't possible at the cafe I was at a few days before!). She then asked if I would prefer the latte over ice rather than blended. As this is currently my favourite drink, I was over the moon! She was really friendly and went out of her way to deal with my fussy request. I also ordered a blueberry muffin which was really tasty. Although Millie had her own snack, she kept looking at my muffin longingly so I gave in and let her try some. As you can see from the picture below, she loved it! 

Millie was due a bottle so I made it using hot water from my flask and went to ask for some cold water to cool it down. I stood in the queue behind a lady and her son who were waiting for their order when a gentleman who worked there saw me waiting, came over from his table where he was working on his iPad and asked if I needed some water. Later on, the same gentleman helped a lady who was struggling to open the door as she had a pram and two small children with her. What amazing customer service especially considering he wasn't even serving!

After Millie and I had finished eating (and Millie had covered the floor in crumbs), I started using a wipe to clean up the mess. The gentleman told me not to worry but I insisted and carried on. I always do my best to clear up as Millie makes a real mess and it isn't fair on the staff to have to clean it all up. The gentleman told me he was happy to see someone making the effort as they have some people who come in with babies and children who leave behind so much mess. Come on mummies and daddies, at least make a bit of an effort to clear up the worst of it! On my way out, he also helped me with the door. It's people like that who make me come back to cafes as they make you feel so welcome.

On my way back to the car, I noticed on the doors that both the ladies and gents toilets contain changing facilities. Obviously I didn't check the gents but in the ladies, outside the cubicles, there was a pull down changing table with safety strap. You can just about squeeze the pram in there but that could then make it difficult for others to access the cubicles and sinks so it's best to leave the pram outside. It's great that both the ladies and gents had a changing table but I much prefer a bit of privacy so wasn't overly struck on the changing table being in the main part of the bathroom.

This cafe had lots of positives and Millie and I have decided we will definitely be back and will be bringing Daddy and the dog too so we can go for a lovely walk and then pop in to the cafe for a drink and a bit of a food. The only downside really was that once I was in the cafe, I lost my mobile phone signal (BT) and there was no wifi but then again, it was quite nice to be cut off from the world! I've given this cafe a rating of 'very good' as I was really pleased with the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff and the ease of access.


Ease of access
Changing facilities
Friendliness of staff 
Food & drink

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