Relishing Newfound Lake

You can find a bit of everything in the Newfound Lake Region. Take Exit 23 from I-93 and discover an Irish pub, Japanese teppanyaki tables, German cuisine and world-class homemade ice cream. And at the center is one of the purest lakes in the world — 185 feet deep in parts and spring-fed. Newfound Lake and the rivers that twist through the region are a source of recreation and beauty, conveniently and quietly located in the center of our state.At one time the Pemigewasset River fueled a row of bustling mills in Bristol, the hub of the region. Notable was the woolen mill run by Henry Whipple, says innkeeper Sandra Heaney. “It provided wool flannel for early major league baseball uniforms. After the war and the development of synthetics that all changed.” Now, you are more likely to find fly fishermen or white water kayakers threading through swift water river passages, and Whipple’s former home is Heaney’s Inn, The Henry Whipple House. Nearby, in the historic town square, Colonial-era clapboard buildings huddle together waiting for the bustle of commerce once again. But there is light and opportunity on the horizon. The area is just too beautiful not to be vibrant year round. Here are eight ways to relish the region from now through spring and into fall:Take a drive around the 26.2-mile perimeter of the lake. You will pass through four towns, including the picture-postcard village of Hebron with its traditional New England town hall and church. Bring your camera, the entire center of the town is on the National Register of Historic Places.For most of the passage the road borders the lake, offering views of bob houses in winter and boaters in spring and beyond. The road narrows for a dramatic view at the Ledges, where the mountain dips into the lake.Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day year-round. Chef/owner Ray Gardiner, who trained in Dublin, has brought in a bit of gaiety with Cu Na Mara Irish Restaurant — offering ethnic cuisine, music and hearty comfort foods. Lace curtains and a shelf laden with Irish whiskeys will put you in the mood for a sampling of bangers and mash, or in mid-March expect a larger array of food the Irish native creates, including pork and cabbage, “more authentic” than the expected corned beef, Gardiner claims. Locals come in for the fresh seafood on Fridays and are greeted by name. The entertainment schedule offers Celtic music on Friday nights, too, year-round, but St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated for a full week with special menu items and live music. Be prepared to wait for your pint of Guinness though, they pour it right.Keep on eating: There are several destination dining spots in the region. Larry Delangis and Phelps Boyd purchased the Inn on Newfound Lake about 10 years ago and with a designer’s touch transformed the tired inn into a rich and cozy retreat. The Pasquaney Restaurant offers views of the lake, while the Wild Hare Tavern in back offers intimate dining and a bar. The menu offered in both rooms is creative and satisfying.The tiny town of Danbury is only 10 miles up Rte. 104 so it’s a good opportunity to try Chef/owner Robert Graf’s German cuisine at the Alphorn Bistro at the Inn at Danbury. The former ski instructor (he learned from Hannes Schneider) skis like poetry on snow and has steadily been improving his style in the kitchen, too. Alex, his wife and former Playboy bunny, dresses herself and staff in authentic dirndls for some of the best cleavage-viewing around. The Bridgewater Inn Japanese Steakhouse on Rte. 3A has a locals’ hangout upstairs, complete with dart boards, pool tables and a great stage for bands. But you can also dine at their teppanyaki tables where Chef/owner Soo-Jin dazzles diners with the usual knife tricks — just remember to get a reservation specifically for that. Come Sunday morning (or lunch or dinner anytime) stop in at the Homestead Restaurant on Rte. 104. The cozy restaurant has fireplaces in just about every room of the original antique cape (possibly the oldest in the region) and the brunch menu is just the ticket for creative omelets and Benedicts. The Bloody Marys are great, too.Treat yourself: Linda Carmichael and family have created a ray of light on Bristol’s town square with a beautifully restored shop in a former 1767 grist mill. A stop at The Mill Ice Cream Café and Fudge Factory is a must. Linda makes ice cream the old-fashioned way with a horizontal freezer and quality ingredients, all from scratch. Do try the fudge — it’s smooth and creamy without being sickly sweet. If you insist on nutrition, her vegetarian soups are healthy and delicious, too. “We tried to create a focal point. Once people find the Mill Café they keep coming back, especially for the fudge,” says Linda. Fridays are an open-mike night and concerts are scheduled on Saturdays. ( outdoors: Nature is close at hand. At Wellington State Park off West Shore Road, find access to Newfound Lake for swimming or boating. Or take a stroll around the point on a short nature trail.Along Rte. 3A find the Newfound River trail, perfect for biking or hiking to the shores of Newfound Lake. Or visit the site of Old Hill Village, a town abandoned in the late ’30s, when the Franklin Falls dam was put in to control flooding on the Merrimack. Find it one mile north of the (new) Hill town post office on Rte. 3A. Turn on Old Town Road until it ends, then walk or bike into Old Hill Village, a series of crumbling foundations fading to the will of nature. Heritage Trail, part of the overall project to connect southern New Hampshire with Canada, is near this area, too, as is 30-foot Profile Falls, a great spot for hiking, biking or swimming. On the north end of the lake is Sculptured Rocks, an interesting natural formation for scenic picnicking or swimming in the cold water pools. From Hebron follow signs on Sculptured Rocks Road. Take a hike on the Appalachian Trail as it navigates over Cardigan Mountain near Alexandria just outside of Bristol. The newly renovated AMC lodge offers family-style meals to day visitors and bunk-style rooms for campers. The 3,121-foot summit is a worthy day hike with great views to Maine. Golf or ski: Ragged Mountain is under new management and the facility is getting much-needed attention. The beautiful lodge is a nice spot to enjoy a slice of their new brick oven pizza and watch skiers.Consider: Paddling enthusiasts will enjoy visiting the Newfound Woodworks in Bristol, where they build kits for wooden kayaks and canoes. In September they hold an outing for kit owners on the shores of Wellington Park. ( Shop: Last but not least, you cannot go home empty-handed. Earthly Treasures Home & Garden Accessories is just north of Bristol’s town center on Rte. 3A and is not to be missed.Vic and Elaine MacAdam’s shop is filled with the work of more than 400 artists and craftsmen. Find everything from jewelry to fine crafts to Vic’s own metalwork. Next door, he produces unique lamps, beds and candlesticks using the lines of nature as his inspiration at his studio, Iron Horse Metalworks. ( Kinkade prints for a good price at Carol’s Thomas Kinkade Gallery. This is not the high-rent district … yet.Where to Stay: Pleasant View Inn (six rooms with baths, plus cottage) Former farmhouse in the 19th century has the country charm of an antique property with modern amenities, including huge windows in the back that offer views of rolling hills and the mountains in the distance. The inn owners Heidi and Don Milbrand recently restored the former porch. They even found the original sign in the barn. www.pleasantviewbandb.netInn on Newfound Lake (31 rooms, 11 with private baths) Large inn offers rooms with a view of the lake and dining on the premises at the Pasquaney Restaurant or in the more intimate Wild Hare Bar. www.innonnewfoundlake.comThe Coppertoppe Inn (four rooms, each with sweeping views of the Newfound Lake Region) The inn is perfect for retreats and the inn owners offer very personal attention. One room is a former master suite with spa-like bath. www.coppertoppe.comThe Henry Whipple House (six rooms with bath, plus carriage house suites) An elegant Victorian Queen Anne, it is the only bed and breakfast in the state on the National Register of Historic Places. Great breakfasts with quality ingredients. NHEvents: Saturday, June 7–8Mooseman International TriathlonSaturday, Oct. 416th Annual NH Marathon & Craft ShowMore Info: Area businesses:; Earthly Treasures: www.earthlytreas.comTrails:; Cardigan Mountain: www.outdoors.orgOld Hill Village:; Homestead Restaurant: www.homesteadnh.comRagged Mountain Resort:

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