The Food Lover's Guide to the Lake District

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The Lake District is home to many regional specialities including Cumberland Sausage, Kendal Mint Cake and Grasmere Gingerbread. However, there are also newer twists on traditional flavours to enjoy, with Kendal Mint Cake Liqueur and damson ketchup to name but a few.

Here are just some of the ways you can experience the Lake District through your taste buds:

Speciality food shops

There are lots of retailers of local speciality and artisan foods including the Taste shop at Rheged, just outside Penrith, which stocks local produce, cheeses and a fantastic range of Cumbrian real ales.

Also in Penrith is Cranston's Cumbrian Food Hall, with a counter of fresh locally farmed meat, as well as a fishmonger, a greengrocer and a delicatessen counter displaying freshly-baked pies, cheeses and cooked meats. Café Oswald's, on the first floor, offers a delicious daytime menu to tempt you during your visit.
Grasmere Gingerbread Shop
Invented in 1854, Sarah Nelson's legendary and unique recipe for Grasmere Gingerbread® is only available from Grasmere Gingerbread itself. If you're in the area, pop by as you won't find it in any other shop!

Other retailers to look out for include:

• Stockghyll Fine Food in Ambleside, for a range of locally produced goodies, and the nearby Apple Pie Café and Bakery.

• Cartmel Village Shop, home of the delicious Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding and stockists of other local fare.

Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding

• Hawkshead Relish in Hawkshead, which produces a wide range of relishes, pickles and preserves, individually and in hampers.

• Unsworth's Yard in Cartmel, incorporating Unsworth's Yard Brewery, Cartmel Cheeses, Red Pepper Kitchenware, Fine Wine & Spirits, and The Mallard Tea Shop.

• Bryson's of Keswick, which also has a bakery in Bowness-on-Windermere.

• Independent butchers such as Huddleston's in Windermere - makers of award-winning pies - and Thomason's of Keswick.

• Friars of Keswick, who recently opened a second shop in Ambleside - a must for any chocoholic!

Friars of Keswick

• The Toffee Shop in Penrith

• The Food Hall at Holker Hall.

Last but not least, Lakeland Ltd is the home of kitchenware and a must for hobby bakers and the home cooking enthusiast. Its flagship store is situated in Windermere, and is a great place to spend some time on a wet day. Also be sure to visit the First Floor Café run by chef Steven Doherty, and turn up early during busy times so that you can book in and wander round the store until you are alerted that your table is ready.

Stocking up during your stay

As well as visiting independent shops, you may also like to visit Booths Supermarkets for some of the everyday essentials during your stay. Booths stocks a wide range of speciality food and drink from the North West and beyond, and has the character that is so often lacking in other UK supermarkets. You'll find stores in Penrith, Keswick, Kendal, Windermere, Ulverston, Milnthorpe and Kirkby Lonsdale.

Heading home...

It may be time to travel home, but the Cumbrian food story needn't end there...

Stop by the farm shops at Tebay Services for a sumptuous selection of goodies to extend your holiday once you get home. The services are situated between J38 and J39 on the M6 with farm shops both north and south-bound.

Low Sizergh Barn Farm Shop

In the southern Lake District, you can pick up local treats and gifts at Low Sizergh Barn, on the edge of the Lake District just south of Kendal. If you make time, you can also walk the farm trail (a route just under two miles, which takes in farmland and ancient woodland), browse the gift shop with clothing and items for the home, and visit the tea room where you can watch the cows being milked from the tea room window.

Brewery tours

The Lakes has become home to a number of microbreweries and specialist distilleries in recent years, with craft ales and alcoholic beverages available to purchase from local retailers.

Lake District Distillery
For a more complete experience though, why not visit the makers themselves?

• The Lakes Distillery is set next to Bassenthwaite Lake, and provides a tour of over 200 years' distilling heritage. You'll learn how whisky, gin and vodka are made, see the stills, and experience the results in the tasting room. You could also finish with a visit to the Bistro at the Distillery.

Hawkshead Brewery

• At Hawkshead Brewery, based in the Mill Yard in Staveley, you can take a brewery tour, or simply enjoy a beer in the Beer Hall, which serves beer tapas and main meals and looks into the brewery itself.

• Jennings is a traditional brewery in Cockermouth, which uses Lakeland water from the brewery's own well. Finish your tour with some samples of Jennings' ales in the Old Cooperage bar.

Jennings Brewery in Cockermouth

• Take a tour of Keswick Brewing Co, enjoy a drink in the Flying Fox Bar, and buy a little something to take home from the brewery shop. Booking advisable.

Cookery schools

If you're really into the creation of food and want to treat yourself to the full cooking experience, Lucy Cooks in Staveley and Peter Sidwell's Simply Good cookery school at Rheged might just be the places for you. Or perhaps you'd like to learn how to smoke food for yourself on a course with Smoky Jo's. Visit each website for specific course information.

Pubs, cafés and restaurants

There are so many restaurants, pubs and eateries to enjoy on your way round the Lakes. Some of our favourites include:

• The George and Dragon, Clifton, near Penrith - brilliant for quality food and service,

• Café Ambio, Backbarrow - a light airy building with full-length windows and seating on the riverside in good weather for lunch or afternoon tea (also soon to open in Ings near Kendal),

• The Boathouse, Bowness-on-Windermere - looks out over Windermere Marina Village and serves good food,

• The Drunken Duck, Clappersgate near Ambleside,

• Zeffirellis, Ambleside (can also be combined with cinema experience),

• The two cafés and Peter Sidwell restaurant at Rheged near Penrith.

But there are many, many more besides... If you have a favourite café or restaurant that you just have to visit while you're in the Lakes, we'd love to hear about it - let us know on social media!

Food events

And as if all that isn't enough, here are just some of the events you can be looking out for on the Lake District's foodie calendar:

Grasmere Gingerbread at the Kendal Food Festival

Kendal Festival of Food, 12th - 13th March 2016

Chilli Fest, Holker Hall, Cark-in-Cartmel, 10th - 11th September 2016

Cumbria Life Sausage Festival, Muncaster Castle, Ravenglass, 30th April - 2nd May 2016

Countryfest, Crooklands, 4th - 5th June 2016

Boot Beer Festival, 9th - 12th June 2016

Beer tasting

Keswick Beer Festival, 3rd - 4th June 2016

Damson Day, Lyth Valley, 16th April 2016

The World's Original Marmalade Awards and Festival, Dalemain, near Penrith, 19th - 20th March 2016

Taste Cumbria, events in several locations throughout the year.

NEW - Taste Cumbria Food Festival in Keswick, 27th - 28th March 2016

Wherever you choose to begin your Lake District food adventure, we're bound to have the perfect cottage to make your stay special. Visit our search facility to find your ideal property and check out our area guides for more ideas on things to see and do around the Lakes