The relaunch of the Ribble Valley Food Trail
PUBLISHED: 16:56 14 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:08 20 February 2013
The Ribble Valley Food Trail relaunches this month. We speak to the organisers about what has changed. Emma Mayoh reports
The print version of this article appeared in the October 2011 issue of Lancashire Life
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The Foot and Mouth outbreak had a devastating impact on the Ribble Valley. Farmers saw their livelihoods disappear overnight, visitor numbers plunged and the people in the area had a lot of hard work head to rebuild this special part of England.
Seven years later the Ribble Valley Food Trail was launched to celebrate the regions remarkable turnaround and the subsequent three years has seen an explosion in local food tourism.
Theresa Robson, of Ribble Valley Council, said: There has been a massive spike in tourism figures in the last three years. This has coincided with a few major events which were the food trail, the reopening of Clitheroe Castle following its multi-million pound restoration and also the launch of our food festival two years ago.
We get enquiries from all over the country from people who want to come to the area specifically because of the food trail. One couple came from Oxford one weekend. They loved it so much, they came back the next weekend, too. The trail was a catalyst and it shows what fantastic food businesses we have.
The trail will relaunch on this month. Everyone listed was asked to reapply for a place as a way to maintain the high standards it is known for. Now, there are 34 food producers, shops and restaurants that have locally-sourced, top-quality food, great service, knowledge and passion.
Crucially, value for money is also seen as a key element for the relaunch.
The new-look trail celebrates wonderful foods including meat from traditional Lancashire breeds, organic milk and cheese, yoghurt and ice-cream, handmade pies and pastries and a feast of fruit and vegetables packed with natural flavour. Nationally-renowned chefs Lisa Allen and Nigel Haworth from Northcote, both former winners of BBC2s Great British Menu, and Paul Heathcote, who received an MBE in 2009 for services to food, are featured.
There are also a three newcomers to the trail including The Duke of York Inn in Grindleton, Freemasons at Wiswell and Gazegill Organic Farm in Rimington,
Theresa said: Were lucky to have such a good offer here and to have new people, with great produce, who want to be involved. A lot of credit has to be given to Nigel and Paul who have championed local produce and set the pace. There are also the retailers who have been around a long time and were able to survive Foot and Mouth and recovered from it.
Some have diversified too like Mrs Dowsons Ice Cream. They were dairy farmers and have now created a fantastic brand that is testament to all of the hard work they have put in.
The trail has also gained the support of industry experts and food critics from across the country, including Radio 4 food journalist and Lancastrian Sheila Dillon. It has won several awards and has made sceptics in the south take notice.
The food trail has also spawned several other events to promote food, including the Clitheroe Food Festival with the town being named Lancashires food capital.
A film promoting the trail will be released this month on YouTube to coincide with the relaunch. The council is also sharing ideas with tourist organisations in Northern Ireland hoping to set up a similar trail and signs and information boards are going to be installed around the area to promote the trail even further.
Theresa said: Its an exciting time for us and we cant wait to relaunch the trail. All credit has to go to the people on the trail who have created food that showcases the Ribble Valley so well.
Further details about the trail are available from www.ribblevalleyfoodtrail.co.uk. For a copy of the trail leaflet contact Ribble Valley Borough Council on 01200 425111.