The Coast to Coast takes you through Cumbria and Yorkshire, both chock full of local specialities and gastronomic pleasures. With such a robust rural community throughout the walk, the amount of locally sourced produce in use in the cafes, restaurants and pubs is extraordinary and of a very high quality.
In this blog post, we will discuss some of the great local produce to look out for, as well as give you some ideas of places to eat while you are out on our trips.
The first half of the Coast to Coast is in Cumbria, famous for a whole host of local specialities. The Cumberland Sausage is well known throughout the UK, and there is nowhere better to eat it than in its homeland. In general, the quality of the meat in Cumbria is fantastic (apologies vegetarians), but the one to look out for is Salt Marsh Lamb, in season throughout the summer. The sheep graze on herbs at the edge of the sea, giving their meat a unique, delicate flavour. You will see it advertised in many establishments and it is definitely worth a try.
Away from meat, sweet treats are Cumbria’s claim to fame. Kendal Mint Cake is one to pack in your rucksack for a day on the trail. Relied upon by walkers and climbers for a century (it is 100 years old in 2018) this high energy, minty treat is worth a try. It is basically sugar and mint, so be careful you don’t have too much, or you might find yourself running up those Fells. Sticky Toffee Pudding originated in Cumbria, so you will find many dazzling examples of this sweet, toffee desert in many pubs and restaurants. Also, one to try is Grasmere Gingerbread. A traditional recipe only sold in one shop in Grasmere and nowhere else in the world. Worth seeking out.
Yorkshire has its own list of must-haves, and of course, top of the list is the Yorkshire Pudding. A savoury batter, served as a side dish to roast meats, we have yet to meet anyone in the world who does not like a Yorkshire pudding. Simple and delicious. Yorkshire also has a strange affinity with Ginger, producing the worlds first Ginger Beer and the delightful Parkin, which is a delicious gingery, honeyed treacle cake.
Both regions have a strong affinity with beer and are prolific brewers of real-ale. Every pub you visit will have something local and likely you will never get to drink the same pint twice. Following the trends of the last few years, there is also a very strong craft beer scene as well as a local gin scene.
We have also put together some great recommendations for while you are on the trail.
If the weather’s nice, and you’re walking this stage at a relaxed pace, you may like to have your packed lunch nestled at the base of one of the nine standings. If, like my walk, the weather is miserable, and you just want to push on, I recommend you do. You can take shelter in the Black Hut, before pushing onto Ravenseat Farm, where delightful cream teas await you. If you have the misfortune to arrive when it is closed, you can still make use of the toilets and shelter provided.
On arrival in Keld, the place to eat in Keld has to be the Keld Lodge. Its menu features good hearty homemade foods, perfectly cooked by their chef Adam. The food is locally sourced, and absolutely delicious – a fantastic way to end the day!
If you take the low valley route, you may well find yourself in Reeth before lunchtime. If this is the case, you have the choice of three wonderful pubs, a bakery and The Copper Kettle. Or if you’ve taken the higher challenging route, you’ll need a packed lunch! A lovely place to stop, if the weather’s good, is the Blakethwaite Ruins.
Walking through a few small villages today, a great place to stop for a wee bite is Elaine’s Farm House Kitchen. It’s just off the path, but don’t worry about getting lost – you’d be hard-pressed to miss the signs!
This can be a very long day, and morale can certainly dip low. One way I found to keep my spirits high, was plan my next snack break!
Bolton-on-Swale Church offers a section of refreshments, for a small donation. Their toilets are currently on trial for public use, and pending this trial period may remain open. When you’re in the church, don’t forget to sign their visitor book, and add your pin to the map!
Throughout the day there is a lack of places to stop and have a sit-down meal, so a packed lunch is recommended. However, due to the kindness of local farmers, you could survive on their honesty boxes alone. For those not familiar, an honesty box is typically a cooler, or box at the side of the trail containing foods, which you leave a donation for taking. I have seen a lot of honesty boxes in my worldly adventures, but none are so impressive as the ones along this section of the trail. There were, coolers and mini fridges along the whole route, but beware of the witch guarding one of them!
As you set out from Ingleby Cross, you will pass a stand selling Diane’s Famous Flapjacks. You’ll know when you see it; just look for the Wombles! For £1, I recommend filling your pockets with as many of them as you can carry. These flapjacks were honestly the best I have ever had, and I would like to extend a special thank you to Diane for greatly improving my day!
If you’re looking for more substantial foods, stopping at Lord Stone’s Café is an absolute must. Refurbished in 2013, Lord Stone’s Café, offers some of the best food along the Coast to Coast, in fabulous surroundings. The café offers both a deli-style, and restaurant dining (the restaurant is only available after 6 pm). At the café, you can get everything from soup to scones, to a traditional steak and ale pie.
Today can be a tough day, as there’s very little cover and winds can be high over the Blakey Ridge. However, well-known and loved, the Lion Inn is the place to stop for lunch or hunker down next to the roaring open fire. As the fourth highest inn in Britain, its traditional decor draws everyone, from day walkers to Coast to Coasters. The food served daily from midday to 10 pm, is specifically designed to cater for walkers – that means good hearty food, in large portions!
One of the nicest places to stop for a light lunch has to be the Falling Foss Tea Gardens. You can sit under hand build canopies, and enjoy tea and cake, with the sounds of the Falling Foss echoing in your ears. Make use you take plenty of cash, as they don’t currently have card facilities, and you would not want to miss out on their delicious treats!