South Lakeland was the destination for a few days away over Easter and we made the most of the opportunity to try some of the area’s delicious food and produce.
Our visit took in towns and villages in the south of the county of Cumbria, which is dominated by the Lake District and bordered by the Yorkshire to the east. It’s a largely rural area and famed for the quality of its livestock, the farming of which remains an essential element of the local economy, along with tourism.
The exploration began in Cartmel, a small village punching far above its weight owing to its racecourse, Michelin starred L’Enclume restaurant and some nationally renowned foods. There’s also the curious priory, where the tower sits at 45 degrees to the rest of the building in a piece of either architectural genius or madness.
We enjoyed perusing the village’s picturesque streets and attractive shops, universally built in the unmistakable Lakeland limestone. On a recommendation we began in Cartmel Cheeses, an emporium that would delight the most highbrow cheese aficionado. Rounds of cheese are piled high and following some tasting we emerged with some sheep cheese, creamy Lancashire, soft French cheese and Stinking Bishop. The car carried a certain aroma after that!
From cheese heaven we moved onto a sweeter sensation. For many Cartmel is best know for its Sticky Toffee Pudding and no visit to the village could be complete to the shop. In addition to more flavours of pudding than you’ll have ever seen before, there’s a fine selection of other local produce.
Grange over Sands
A few short miles from Cartmel is the town of Grange, sitting on the northern side of Morecambe Bay and commanding some impressive views that have helped cement the town as a popular retirement destination. Here we made a lunch stop at the Hazlemere Cafe, home of award winning teas and a 60-year old vanilla slice recipe. On entering you’re forced to pass the bakery with its table groaning under an irresistible selection of delights. Making a note of your favourites you then proceed into the cafe itself. There’s a good range of sandwiches on offer, all served with a assorted salad on the side, which made it a wholesome meal in itself. I couldn’t help but try the signature vanilla slice, and was not disappointed by this suitably indulgent yet sublime piece of dessert.
Lying just off the busy A65 east-west road in the very southeast corner of the county, Kirkby Lonsdale enjoys a good deal of passing trade from those heading to both the lakes and dales and has become something of a hub for boutique and specialist shops. The food at the Sun Inn, located on the high street, has gained quite a reputation of late and we were keen to give it a try, for which the £25.95 ‘favourites’ menu offers ample opportunity. Each course was full of flavour and I particularly enjoyed the local lamb, slow roasted for 8 hours making for a dish where the meat was succulent and just fell away to light pressure from the fork. A great example of local produce being celebrated.
We spent a day exploring the pleasant bustling market town of Kendal, which lies very much at the heart of the South Lakes economy. Following another recommendation we lunched at the Baba Ganoush Canteen, not to be confused with its sister shop across the street. There’s a fabulously varied menu, reflected in us trying the lamb flat bread with mint raita and couscous and a fish finger sandwich in ciabatta. The quality of the ingredients was clear to see, and taste.
A visit to Kendal for us always means stocking up on coffee from Farrers on the high street. Something of a Kendal institution, if you like tea or coffee, you’re in for a treat at Farrers. There’s a cafe as well as counters to take away beans and leaves of your choice.
These just scratch the surface of the range of produce and restaurants on offer in and around the Lake District. Next time you visit be sure to look up those places that will allow you to taste the very best the area has to offer. You won’t be disappointed.