The owners of Cumbria's famous Hartside Cafe have been left devastated after the family-run business was destroyed by fire.

For the past 17 years, Kathryn and Colin Renwick have run the popular cafe, which sits at the top of Hartside Pass next to the A686 near to Alston, some 1,904ft above sea level.

The business has been a huge part of the family's life.

But despite the efforts of firefighters, a major blaze tore through the building on Tuesday afternoon, destroying almost everything but the walls.

At the time, the road was closed by heavy snowfall, making the already remote location even more difficult to get to.

It is still unknown how long the fire was burning for before it was reported.

Kathryn and Colin's daighter Rachel Forster said the family can't believe what's happened.

"We are in a bit of shock," she said. "My mum and dad have owned the cafe for 17 years, putting in a lot of hard work over the years. They have lots of memories in there.

"Lots of staff have been in touch offering support. It's sad that this has happened. It's sad to look at the pictures.

"We're now in limbo until we hear back from the fire investigation tea, who are trying to determine the cause of the fire.

"There was no-one there to raise the alarm. We believe a man in a snow plough raised the alarm."

Co-owner Kathryn says the damage is extensive. "There's nothing left," she said. "There are only walls standing.

"We were just getting ready to open for the season again. We are devastated. We were looking for a busy Mother's Day and Easter."

The family are now awaiting the arrival of insurance assessors.

Kathryn said they were determined to rebuild the cafe, but she accepts that they will be building almost from scratch.

The cafe has already been popular for its scenery - particularly with bikers, who enjoy the route because of the stunning and panoramic views seen between Alston and Penrith.

Fans of the cafe have since set up two fundraising pages to help raise money for its restorations. They have already raised more than £400.

To donate, visit: or