The Best Food of the Lake District and Cumbria


Did you know that Cumbria is home to many world-famous dishes? Steeped in tradition, much of the Cumbrian fayre derives from the Lake District landscape, giving it a unique and authentic taste. You’ll find many of these local treats and more on offer at the Taste Cumbria festival, a large food and drink event held annually in Cockermouth. With the 2019 festival just around the corner, here's our look at some of Cumbria's finest culinary creations.

Herdwick Lamb

Lamb shankNative to Cumbria and reared on the fells, Herdwicks are a hardy bunch with a thick, durable fleece that helps them withstand even the harshest winter conditions. With a diet mainly consisting of forage, their meat has a strong, gamey flavour. The meat is also a popular staple in northern dishes such as stews and hot pots, which all go down very well with a pint of Cumberland Ale!

Looking to try a bit of Herdwick lamb? You'll find it on offer at any Cumbrian butchers, as well as in several Lake District restaurants such as the Grasmere Hotel in Grasmere and Lake Road Kitchen in Ambleside.

Cumberland Sausage

Cumberland Sausage at Cranstons Butchers in CumbriaNow an official Cumbrian institution, the Cumberland Sausage was granted Protected Geographical Indication status in 2011. When not found packed in a long, coil shape in the butchers, this local favourite is often on offer in many Lake District pubs and restaurants. 

Consisting of pork meat and flavoured with a variety of seasonings, Cumberland Sausage is known for its peppery taste and thick, juicy texture. It’s a delicacy that goes back well into the 18th century, along with the arrival of herbs and spices into the port of Whitehaven. Arriving from the Americas, these ingredients were new to British shores and were used to create innovative, exciting dishes that we still love today.  

Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding

Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding and sauceCartmel has a great reputation for good food! This medieval village is something of a gastronomical hub, serving up dishes such as Salt Marsh Lamb, Cartmel Cheese and the Michelin Star-winning Cartmel Coffee. It is also home to L'Enclume, Simon Rogan's award-winning restaurant that featured on BBC's The Trip.

But probably the most famous Cartmel export is its sticky toffee pudding, created by the Johns family shortly after taking over the struggling Cartmel village shop over 25 years ago. The decadent treat picked up something of a reputation and went on to be a huge success with pudding fans around the world, becoming available in major supermarkets and online. Made using traditional baking methods and ingredients such as sticky dates, free-range eggs and real cream, this dessert is tough to resist!

Want to stay near the foodie heaven of Cartmel? Have a glance at our cottages in South Cumbria.

Grasmere Gingerbread®

Grasmere Gingerbread®Victorian cook Sarah Nelson created Grasmere Gingerbread® in 1854 in a tiny former village school building where Lakes poet William Wordsworth once taught. A unique cross between a biscuit and cake, this sweet and spicy treat has become synonymous with the charming village of Grasmere. Remember, anything bearing the official logo is the real deal, as it uses Nelson’s secret recipe, which is kept firmly under lock and key!

The Grasmere Gingerbread® shop is tucked away in the churchyard corner of St Oswald's church. You won't need to search far to find it — just follow the delicious aroma leading to a queue of hungry punters! The gingerbread has even got Hollywood approval, with famous stars such as Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger and Tom Cruise all popping into the shop for this tasty treat.

Grasmere has plenty to offer – take a look at our cottages in the area.

Kendal Mint Cake

Kendal in CumbriaFolklore has it that this Cumbrian creation happened completely by accident. A Kendal confectioner was attempting to make glacier mint but (after taking his eye off the pan) found that he had produced a frothy, cakey mixture. Once cooled and hardened, the distracted cook had created what we now know as Kendal Mint Cake!

More of a tablet than a cake, this minty, sugary treat is popular with walkers and climbers, with the high glucose content providing a quick energy boost. For that reason, you'll often find it on offer in many outdoor shops as well as in newsagents and gift shops.

Stay in the home of Kendal Mint Cake at one of our Kendal cottages.

Solway Potted Shrimp

Hailing from the surrounding waters of North West Cumbria, Solway Potted Shrimp are a popular delicacy with seafood lovers. You can usually find them in Cumbrian fishmongers, and they go very nicely covered in butter with some bread.

For the freshest shrimps, head down to the small coastal town of Silloth. Here, the shrimps are caught from two boats, the Jaana B and the Boy Bailey, where they are also cooked as the nets are brought in!

See all of our coastal cottages.

Westmorland Damsons

Damsons on a treeThe Lyth and Winster valleys — lying between Kendal and Windermere — is the picturesque home to the famous Westmorland damsons. Named after the former county of Westmorland, these violet coloured fruits are used to make a range of treats, including chutneys, jams, beer and gin.

Although damsons can be found elsewhere in the UK, the Cumbrian crops are known for their uniquely sharp flavour. A member of the plum family, they grow on shallow-rooted trees, which in spring blossom with pretty white petals. Come September, the fruit ripens and is ready to be sold in local shops and on roadside stalls.

Cumberland Rum Nicky

Along with exotic herbs and spices, Caribbean rum was another import welcomed onto Cumbria shores during the East Indies trading period. The rum was then used to make Cumberland Rum Nicky, a dish that is still popular today, with fans including celebrity baker Paul Hollywood. In its simplest form, this sweet treat is made with shortcrust pastry, dates, ginger, brown sugar and, of course, rum. But variations of the recipe can include apples and dried fruit such as raisins.

Why the name? No one is quite sure, but one explanation is that seamen used to 'nick' the ingredients being ferried by ship into Whitehaven harbour. Once back on land, they would use their pilfered goods to make this simple dessert!


If your mouth is watering and you're ready to sample these Cumbrian delights for yourself, take a look at our cottage search to find your perfect holiday cottages!


You may also like: