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Farm shops in and around Kendal and the South Lakes

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Going to sleep by counting sheep is more than possible in the South Lakes, particularly if you have feasted on some of the area’s wonderful farm-fresh food and drink. A wide variety of farm shops allow the visitor to eat in the from-field-to-fork way and get a true taste of the landscape in which they are staying, whether that’s for a picnic, or a self-catering night in.

The number of hill farms and amount of fell pasture in the area make lamb a top choice for the dinner plate and no more so than at Mansergh Hall Farm, near Kirkby Lonsdale. Its lamb has been described as “the tenderest lamb you’re ever likely to eat” (Sunday Times, 2005) and its mutton has said to be “to die for”.

The farm shop’s acclaimed lamb comes from lambs produced by breeding Texel Cross North Country Cheviot ewes and Texel rams and its taste and texture is outstanding thanks to it being hung for at least 7-10 days. The shop, open from 9am to 5pm on Fridays, not only sells lamb and mutton, but also retails quality, grass-fed beef, pork from a variety of free-range pigs, sausages, bacon and slow-grown, free-range chicken from Lowther Park Farms. An online shop is available for those unable to visit in person.

The area’s famous Herdwick lamb is the speciality of Yew Tree Farm at Coniston (once owned by Beatrix Potter),which retails its own Herdwick through its Heritage Meats brand. Herdwick lamb has a truly unique taste, thanks to the rich diet of berries, heather and grasses that the little sheep enjoy, which makes the meat more flavoursome, tender and succulent. The cuts of meat are smaller than normal lamb and also contain Omega-3 fatty acids.

A little thinking ahead can enable anyone enjoying a self-catering holiday in the area to order their award winning and acclaimed produce online and arrange delivery at a time to suit their eating-in evening. There are even recipes available online, to provide some inspiration!

The Herdwick Hogget is a whole lamb, but there are also kidneys, mince, Lamb Henry, boned and rolled breasts, leg steaks, mini roasts and other joints from which to choose. A surprise meat hamper enables the shopper to also sample some of the farm’s Belted Galloway beef and a surprise!

If pork is more to your liking, head to the Kitridding Farm Shop at Old Town, between Kendal and Kirkby Lonsdale. Home reared pork is available as joints, as cured bacon and as gammon, whilst it also helps to make the farm’s sausages renowned talking points. With home-bred beef and lamb and a variety of other local produce on sale, including Sue Prickett preserves, a visit on either a Friday (10am to 6pm) or a Saturday (10am-5pm), is a great idea.

A few miles away, at Sillfield Farm Shop, near Endmoor, Kendal, Peter Gott’s wild boar, rare breed pigs, herdwick lambs and pedigree poultry are all free-range animals at the heart of some excellent meats that have wowed fans such as Prince Charles and Jamie Oliver.

As well as selling meats, the farm shop has delicious hand-made pies and sausages available. Pie choices include wild boar, wild game (venison, pheasant, rabbit and wild boar), wild boar and cranberry and huntsman (wild boar, chicken and cranberry sauce, topped with stuffing).

Sausage varieties include pheasant and venison, pork and garlic and wild boar with chianti and shallots, whilst gluten-free options include wild boar chorizo, lamb merguez and Toulouse (pork and beef). Sillfield Farm Shop is open from 10am-5pm on Fridays and Saturdays and from 10am to 4pm on Sundays.

At Low Sizergh, near Kendal, the Low Sizergh Barn Farm Shop is housed in a seventeenth century Westmorland stone barn and sells everything from its cool, creamy milk, to vegetables delivered by wheelbarrow from its Growing Well social enterprise scheme on Low Sizergh Farm land. The farm’s milk is also used in its Kendal Crumbly, Kendal Crumbly with Red Onion and Kendal Creamy cheeses, sold on its award-winning cheese counter, offering over 60 choices.

Low Sizergh Barn is a silver ‘Taste of England’ award winner in the 2010 Enjoy England Awards for Excellence, which recognises its approach to sourcing other local products, as well as using its own. Other award-winners stocked at the farm shop include Kendal Jacksmiths flapjacks, whilst a new local product on the shelves is the Bedrock Gin, made using Lake District spring water. The shop is open every day from 9am to 5.30pm.

The Plumgarths Farm Shop offers shoppers its own premium brand lamb and beef, as well as pork from rare breed Saddleback pigs and farm veal from Heaves. With free-range bacon, sausages and other local products, including chutneys and relishes, this shop, located on the Lakeland Food Park, is another place to head to for excellent local produce. The shop opens from 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and is online continuously.

Succulent and tasty meat requires suitably fresh and flavour-filled accompaniments – food that is the speciality of Howbarrow Organic near Cartmel – an online shop for organic vegetables, herbs and fruit grown on its own land, as well as a variety of other local produce, ranging from shellfish to butter and from mutton to smoked fish. With special vegetable boxes and welcome packs available, as well as quirky choices such as a de-tox box, this is an online shop that will soon be supported by an offline farm shop once again.

Whilst in the Cartmel area, it would be rude not to pick up some of the famous Sticky Toffee Pudding from the Cartmel Village Shop. The acclaimed Sticky Toffee Pudding comes in a variety of sizes and has sister products – Sticky Ginger Pudding, Sticky Banana Pudding, Sticky Chocolate Pudding and accompanying sauces. Add to this a classic twist on a traditional summer fruit pudding – packed with raspberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, strawberries and elderflower cordial – and a visit is a must!

Nearby Holker Food Hall is the place to which to head for the famous Holker Saltmarsh Lamb, with its distinctive flavour influenced by the grazing of the sheep on the saltmarshes around Morecambe Bay. This is joined on the shelves by Morecambe Bay Potted Shrimps and other delicacies such as St James Ewe’s Sheep cheese from the Holker-based dairy of Martin Gott, local apple and damson juice and Holker venison – from a herd with a bloodline stretching back centuries. The Food Hall opens from 10.30 am to 5.30 pm daily in the high season and to 4pm in winter.

Local producers markets will also be held from 10.30 am to 3.30pm, in the Courtyard at Holker Hall, on 5th September, 6th and 7th November and 5th, 12th and 19th December 2010.

Another farm shop selling meat flavoured by the rich Furness pastures around the Cumbrian coast is the Baycliffe Farm Shop near Ulverston. Quality and choice cuts of beef and lamb are sold alongside home-cured bacon and home made sausages, as well as a secret ingredient black pudding. The innovative farm shop also sells its own Chicken Cushions, Farmhouse Roasties, Lamb and Leek Roast, delicious pies and creamy custard vanilla cake. It opens from 9am to 3pm Tuesday to Friday and from 9am to 2pm on Saturdays and also sells its produce at nearby Ulverston market.

Foraying into the feast of food available from the South Lakes’s farm shops is a fabulous way to really understand the landscape of the Lakes, so put a shopping spree on your must-do list during your holiday in this stunningly beautiful area, which produces simply outstanding food.

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