Food and Drink in South Lakeland
The rural setting, rich agricultural demographic and burgeoning hospitality sector of South Lakeland have generated a food and drink industry which enjoys a worldwide reputation, both for its quality and diversity, with its associations with the Lake District brand adding further valuable support to the industry.
You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who hasn't heard of Grasmere Gingerbread, Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding and the first confectionery to reach the summit of Mount Everest, Kendal Mint Cake, but these famous and traditional foodstuffs sit cheek-by-jowl with a new generation of producers who are shaping the 'taste district'.
Bakers and butchers, manufacturers of preserves, chutneys and relishes, luxury ice cream and innovative infused vinegars – South Lakeland provides an inspirational setting for artisan producers to thrive and create truly outstanding food and beverages.
Sheep farming has literally shaped the landscape of the Lake District with deciduous forest making way for grazing land centuries ago, and the lamb produced in the hills and dales of South Lakeland, along with the Salt Marsh Lamb of the Holker Estate, rivals that of anywhere in the world.
South Lakeland can boast its share of restaurants which currently hold acclaimed Michelin Stars (L'Enclume at Cartmel, The Samling near Ambleside and Holbeck Ghyll, Windermere) along with other outstanding establishments which consistently achieve high recognition.
As a county, Cumbria boasts the largest number of breweries per capita, with over thirty in operation at the start of 2012. Of the dozen breweries located in South Lakeland, Hawkshead Brewery is the largest, with the capacity to produce 180 barrels (approx 6,480 gallons) of beer each week. Coniston Brewing Co, Dent Brewery, Cumbrian Legendary Ales, Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery and Barngates Brewery, to name just a few, also serve up an award-winning array of beers to grace any bar.
There is an existing base of food producers within the South Lakeland borders. This ranges from HJ Heinz, operating an infant food manufacturing facility in Kendal with nearly 200 staff, to smaller concerns producing everything from Christmas puddings to award-winning bacon. Hawkshead Relish, the Creative Confectionary Company and Lake District Ice Creams are all well known local food manufacturers.
Every year, South Lakeland celebrates its diverse and unique food and drink economy with a number of popular and well-supported events including the Westmorland County Show attended by over 25,000 people, Kendal Festival of Food and Kirkby Lonsdale's Fork Fest, all drawing an audience from around the region and further afield.
Our producers are also supported by local, regional and national retailers who appreciate the benefits of including food and beverages from South Lakeland in their portfolio. Further information can be found in our Retail section
Markets are a regular feature in South Lakeland and are held each week in all of the larger towns and villages including Kendal, Ambleside, Milnthorpe, Sedbergh, Ulverston and Kirkby Lonsdale.
Outdoor markets are held in Kendal every Wednesday and Saturday and a Farmers Market offering excellent local produce is held on the last Friday of each month. Kendal has held a market charter since 1189. Ulverston market charter was granted in 1280 and outdoor markets are on Thursdays and Saturdays. Both Kendal and Ulverston also have indoor markets which are open Monday to Saturday throughout the year.
Ambleside's market is held every Wednesday on Kings Street Carpark. Milnthorpe's market day is on Friday and Kirkby Lonsdale hold their market Devil's Bridge every Thursday and has been an important trading route since Roman times. Sedbergh hold their market in Joss Lane Carpark every Wednesday throughout the year.
Key points in summary:
- A worldwide reputation for food and beverages
- A location where traditional producers can be found alongside the next generations of food champions
- An inspiring environment for small producers to start up in business
- Opportunities for producers to supply the local hospitality sector as well as promoting themselves under the established South Lakeland/Lake District brand
- Regular high-profile celebrity endorsement for the food and beverage offering from South Lakeland
- An appreciation of and shared pride in the sector amongst the local communities