As part of our Green Traveller's Guide to Arnside & Silverdale, Jo Keeling picks out a selection of restaurants, cafés and markets to find the best local food and drink in this glorious Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The AONB has a wide area from which to draw ingredients. From Morecambe Bay, come potted shrimps, salt-marsh lamb, freshly-foraged samphire and Port of Lancaster smoked salmon; from the southern lakes you can enjoy Hawkshead relishes, 28-day-aged beef and Cartmel sticky toffee pudding; while from Yorkshire and Lancashire, there’s Whitby scampi and a smorgasbord of tasty local cheeses.
There are local heroes on your doorstep too - ask any local business where they source their food, the butcher at Silverdale, who rears his own herds of cattle nearby, always gets a mention.
To help you get the best from your visit, we’ve picked out some of the best spots to sample local food, whether you’re after a boutique breakfast, a coffee and choice of 20 home baked cakes, locally-brewed ale or simple delights such as fish and chips on the Arnside pier. Tuck in!
Wolf House Kitchen
Wolfhouse Kitchen (along with the cottages and galleries that cluster around this sun trap of a courtyard on the outskirts of Silverdale) is fast becoming a hub for tourists and locals. Kenny and Katy have recently taken over the eatery after a stint managing a cafe in Paris. Katy is a keen baker and often turns out up to 20 varieties of cake on the counter (many of which will sell out by 2pm!). The couple have ambitious plans, with a daily changing menu and an eclectic range of inventive dishes - all with a focus on simplicity and good quality, responsibly-sourced ingredients. They’ve even started opening for evening meals on Friday and Saturday. The cafe is particularly bike-friendly, with safe lock up and an electric bike charging point.
This cute little cafe and gift shop on the Arnside prom, with good wi-fi, friendly owners and cracking homemade cakes, is popular with tourists and locals alike - especially on a sunny day when you can soak up the views at brightly coloured tables outside. Owner Jane is a keen baker, who loves working with local ingredients. The shop is packed to the rafters with quirky souvenirs that make you smile, often produced by local artists; head downstairs for antiques.
The Old Beetham Post Office
A rather bubbly and welcoming couple has recently taken over Beetham’s charming old post office, built in 1881 according to the inscription above the door, and have since been busy renovating and transforming the upstairs with reclaimed wood, church pew seats, enamel lampshades and tubs of chalk paint. The result is a modern but homely tea room without a hint of chintz. The shop downstairs feels like a traditional village store - with all the provisions you could need for a picnic. TheOldBeethamPO
Leighton Moss Visitor Centre Cafe
Even if you can’t tell a tit from a blackbird, Leighton Moss is worth visiting for the cakes. In fact, you may remember them being eagerly devoured by the Autumnwatch team, when the BBC show based itself at the reserve in 2013. Local lady Anne Hawley bakes exclusively for the cafe and is kept rather busy by demand – arrive early to bag a slice of their famous lemon drizzle. Wherever possible, ingredients are sourced locally and the café is Taste Lancashire Quality Assured. Silverdale’s F & W Burrow and Son provides the meat; their fish is line-caught and albatross friendly; even their coffee focuses on bird welfare, grown in Nicaragua in the shaded canopy of the rainforest. There’s also a selection of hearty savoury dishes for breakfast and lunch - baked potatoes, sandwiches and salads.
The Refreshment Room, Carnforth Station
Carnforth was made famous as the railway station featured in Brief Encounter (1945), filmed at night towards the end of WWII so as not to interrupt train operations. It’s well worth stopping by platform 1 to peruse the station’s heritage centre and have a bite to eat in the Refreshment Room, restored to full 1940s splendor with nostalgic touches such as stacks of old trunks and suitcases, set memorabilia, a curved wooden bar and an old till. The cafe serves hearty sandwiches, all freshly prepared on site, as well as breakfast and baked potatoes. Check out their events calendar for regular jazz and swing performances. carnforthstation.co.uk
The Albion has to have one of the most enviable pub views in the country. Sit out on the patio and you can watch a panorama over the viaduct and Lake District fells that changes colour by the minute. Built as a private house in c1810, the building was originally owned by a mariner and ship trader before the coming of the railway sounded the death knell for coastal trading and it was turned into a hotel and bar. There’s still a 200-year-old bell on the roof, which was once used to summon carriages in bad weather and warn of the incoming tide. The menu focuses on local specialities, such as salmon with local buttered samphire, potted Morecambe Bay shrimp, Lakeland lamb, Silverdale 28-day aged steak, Whitby scampi and Port of Lancaster smoked salmon. albionarnside.co.uk
For ideas on nearby places to stay, local attractions and activities, see our Green Traveller's Guide to Arnside & Silverdale