Whether it’s a cosy country pub, a quiet village cafe or a 5-star restaurant, there are endless ways to sample local specialties and gastronomic cuisine along the Coast to Coast as you walk through Cumbria and North Yorkshire.
High-quality, locally sourced produce ranges from the famous Cumberland sausage (stuffed with herbs and finely chopped pork) to saltmarsh lamb raised on grass regularly flooded by the tides along Cumbria’s upper coast, which gives the meat a unique flavour. And thanks to the Cistercian monks, who brought their cheesemaking skills over from Normandy, there’s a wonderful cheese scene across the Dales. The local animals of the area at the time were sheep; Wensleydale (an old cheese recipe dating back to the Norman Conquest of England) started its journey as a sheep’s milk cheese made by the monks themselves before it was passed down to local farmers in the 16th century. Over the years more cheeses have been developed using both cow’s and goat’s milk, noted for its buttery texture.
As for myself, I am a big cheese lover, so my favourite was crispy filo pastry wrapped around stilton with walnut and pomegranate guinea salad on a side. And of course I made sure I had plenty of local mature cheddar cheese packed for the long walking days.
For seafood lovers, Artic char (a member of the salmon family) is a popular dish served in the Lake District, along with shrimps in butter, and swordfish served with peppercorn sauce.
Of course, it is not necessary to get all fancy – the traditional homemade pies, beef stews, casserole, and flaky pasties or traditional sandwiches with ham, cheese, pickle and homemade chutney are always a good option.
Vegetarians and vegans are well catered for and most restaurants and pubs offer at least a few veggie options on their menus. My favourite was the sweet potato, onion tart with avocado salad.
And let’s not forget the 150-year-old Gingerbread Shop in Grasmere. The famous secret gingerbread recipe was created by Sarah Nelson in 1854. It’s halfway between a crumbling biscuit and a sticky cake and is best eaten when fresh and still chewy; nevertheless, it still makes a delicious snack for the journey ahead! And it is certainly not the only sweet delight on the Lake District. Rich dark fruit cake, sticky toffee pudding, homemade flapjacks and of course sugar-loaded Kendal mint-cakes (covered in mint oil or chocolate) are some of the local sweets you get to savour on this English ramble.
My absolute favourite was on day 9 of the Coast to Coast. Leaving Cumbria and entering North Yorkshire the path leads to Keld but before reaching the tiny village the rest stop at Ravenseat Farm is an absolute must. I was welcomed with a hot cup of tea and delicious home-made scones with jam and whipped cream, freshly baked by Amanda, the farm owner herself.
And what better way to end the 309km Coast to Coast journey than with the old-fashioned fish & chips in the old, quaint fishing village of Robin Hood’s Bay, freshly caught from the North Sea.
For beer lovers, make sure to treat yourself to a strong craft beer at Wainwright’s Bar, named after the great man himself, before dipping your toes into the North Sea.