Six of the best local field-to-fork producers
At Crabtree & Crabtree, we’ve always believed that the best way to get to a destination’s heart is through its food and getting better acquainted with where that food comes from. With huge swathes of sparsely populated countryside, our regions have more space to grow and nurture food than almost anywhere else in the UK. So, it’s unsurprising that the North of England and the South of Scotland are home to some of the best food and drink producers – and foodie experiences – in Britain.
From hand cured and smoked Scottish salmon and Lindisfarne oysters scooped straight from the cool waters surrounding Holy Island to pasture-fed beef and venison slowly reared in the Cheviot Hills, our region’s larder is bursting with delicious home-grown produce. Add in homemade cheese from the Dales and plenty of opportunities to forage for wild goodies in North Yorkshire and there are lots of tasty adventures to sink your teeth into.
As varied in their produce as they are in landscape, our regions really are lands of plenty. We’ve cherry-picked six of our favourite field-to-fork suppliers – and the experiences they offer – who are passionate about their produce and the local environment. Located in beautiful spots across pristine coastline, rolling hills and fragrant forests, they showcase the very best of our region – and make for a fun day out for all the family whether you’re looking to educate your children about farming and animals, or are a gastronome more interested in sampling some exceptional local delights!
Wilson's Farm and Kitchen | Kelso, Scottish Borders
Nestled in the shadow of the magnificent Cheviot Hills it isn’t hard to see why everything that the Wilson family does at Cowbog Farm is to celebrate and protect their surroundings. Dedicated to rearing livestock and growing arable crops and vegetables in a sustainable and biodiverse manner, things at Cowbog Farm follow the gentle cycle of the seasons. Livestock including cattle – Cowbog Farm is home to one of Europe’s oldest, largest and most respected herds – Herdwick sheep, ponies, hens and dogs exist in harmony with local wildlife: both of which can be experienced first-hand on one of their walking or tractor trailer farm tours.
Encouraging people to connect with their food, Wilson’s Farm and Kitchen (based at Cowbog Farm) run a number of tours including a field to fork tour. Great for children and adults alike, these tours you an overview of the farm, their farming methods, the crops and a chance to see (and meet!) the farm animals before enjoying a feast of seasonal dishes in one of the farm’s converted grain store bothies. Decked out with their own firepit to keep you warm, these corrugated iron bothies can be booked in advance for private events and celebrations. Making the most of the best local produce, Wilson’s Farm and Kitchen also hosts several foodie events throughout the year including curry nights, a 25-mile roast lunch and a breakfast safari as well as foraging events in September.
Belhaven Smokehouse | Dunbar, East Lothian
Firm believers that quality cannot be rushed, Belhaven Smokehouse is committed to hand curing and smoking its fish. Famed for its rich flavour, which is achieved through a long and slow smoking process, Belhaven Smokehouse produces some of the best quality smoked seafood in Scotland.
Located just outside the pretty fishing town of Dunbar, the smokery has an on-site shop where you can pick up some of its famed smoke salmon – made by smoking a filet over oak shavings from former whisky casks – along with other local goodies and plans for an on-site restaurant are underway.
Lindisfarne Oysters | Holy Island, Northumberland
Holy Island is filled with historic sites including Lindisfarne Priory, Lindisfarne Castle and oyster beds… Although the latter may come as a surprise, the presence and cultivation of oysters on Holy Island dates back to 1381, when the monks of Lindisfarne Priory established their own oyster beds. On this same site, over 600 years later John Sutherland founded Lindisfarne Oysters on Ross Farm after noticing oyster shells on the beach at low tide. Grown in the cool waters of Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve, using only the natural resources of the North Sea water for their food, each oyster takes 3-4 years to mature before it can be harvested.
While the oyster beds can be spotted from various viewpoints around the island, it is lovely to walk along Ross Back Sands looking back toward the mainland over Fenham Flats to admire the oysters at closer quarters. If you’re organised and order in advance, you can pick up some oysters directly from the farm to enjoy on the beach or back at your C&C holiday cottage. Soft, creamy and rounded in flavour, Lindisfarne oysters are considered to be among the finest by many seafood connoisseurs.
Ingram Valley | Cheviot Hills, Northumberland
Situated amid the rolling Cheviot Hills, Ingram Valley farm specialises in rearing grass-fed animals. Championing low-intervention farming, the animals are left – as nature intended – to graze the wild pastures and forage for heather, virgin grass and wild herbs in the uplands which results in leaner meat with a more complex flavour profile.
With sheep, cattle and deer grazing the scenic hilltops, there are lots of happy animals and sights to see at Ingram Valley. Discover the history of the valley, the beautiful countryside and more about the animals and the organic farming methods on a safari tour around the valley with experienced tour guide Patrick from Footsteps in Northumberland and a member of the Wilson family – who have been farming the valley since 1949. Dedicated to making quality, sustainably reared produce available to everyone, Ingram Valley’s meat can be ordered online.
Laceys Cheese | Reeth Dales, Yorkshire
Nestled in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, Laceys Cheese in Reeth, is an artisan cheese maker dedicated to hand producing Yorkshire cheese. Employing traditional methods, Laceys Cheese sources its milk from farms in the surrounding hills and moors to make a range of fantastic cheeses including classic cheddars, crumbly wensleydales, tangy goats’ cheeses and creamy blues.
Passionate about sharing the savoir-faire of artisan cheesemaking, Lacey’s Cheese run small-group cheese making courses in their small factory where you can learn all the stages of cheesemaking from grading to waxing. With a cheese-heavy lunch included in the itinerary, you might need step out for a walk along one of the many way-marked walking trails afterwards!
Taste The Wild | Boroughbridge, Yorkshire
As its name suggests, Taste the Wild sums up the ethos of Chris and Rose Bax’s outdoor foraging and cookery courses. Held in rural locations near Boroughbridge in North Yorkshire, the courses not only walk you through some magnificent Yorkshire countryside but also give you a good insight into the wealth of seasonal, wild foods available on the doorstep.
From one-day family foraging courses, where you and the children will learn how to pick, prepare and wild salad, edible greens, herbs, hedgerow fruit and wild berries, to hot and cold smoking courses, deer butchery, fungi foraging and bread making days on offer there is something for everyone no matter the season!
Or, if you’d rather stay home and put your feet up during your stay with us, we can bring the region’s foodie greats to you. Our roster of top-notch local chefs and cooks can rustle up up a feast from the region's finest produce and can be available full time for the duration of your stay, part time or for one-off celebratory occasions.
If you’d like to know more, give us a buzz on 01573 226711 or drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org
Wilson's Farm & Kitchen 'Wee Bothy' Dining Experience image ©Craig Stephen Photography.