Cartmel's reputation as a centre of high quality food and drink just keeps on growing
PUBLISHED: 12:21 02 April 2013 | UPDATED: 20:53 19 April 2016
Cartmel's reputation as a centre of high quality food and drink just keeps on growing. WORDS BY PAUL MACKENZIE PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIRSTY THOMPSON
The people of Cartmel are used to top quality food and they now have even more choice. The menu, which for years has boasted Michelin star winner Simon Rogan and the village’s most famous export, sticky toffee pudding, now also includes, beer, bread, cheese and fine wines and chocolates.
Much of the latest influx of tasty treats can be found in the recently redeveloped Unsworth’s Yard, which was the base of a haulage business for almost 90 years. But the grandsons of the family firm’s founder have transformed the site into a Mediterranean-style courtyard.
At the entrance to the yard is David Unsworth’s shop which stocks an impressive collection of wines and spirits, then there’s a cheese shop which has the best selection for miles around and also sells a range of breads made nearby. Just across the yard is Peter Unsworth’s micro-brewery which produces 100 pints a week, and in the middle is a water
feature and seating.
‘It’s lovely on a nice day,’ said Peter Unsworth who runs the brewery. ‘We get people sitting with a pint of beer or a glass of wine, cheese and bread, and just relaxing.’
Former quarry worker Peter, who hadn’t brewed any beer until just two
years ago, now makes five different ales and he added: ‘The brewery was the last unit to be filled. We decided we ought to make something ourselves that would add something in terms of quality food and drink.
‘And like everybody else here, we’re not just playing at it. The brewery had to be small to fit in here, but we also knew it had to be the best it could be and we’re pretty pleased. We have become exactly what we wanted to be.’
He is helped at the brewery by his brother David and brother-in-law Mark
Grunnill and most of the beer they brew goes to the village pubs and restaurants, although it is also available in bottles. The first beer they sold went to last year’s Fleetwood Beer Festival, and it sold out.
‘We are self-taught brewers,’ he added. ‘There is a lot of help out there and other micro-breweries are always willing to help. The best advice I was given was to brew what you like. We’re not looking to make the hoppiest beer or the strongest beer, or the beer with the daftest name.
People come here for good food and drink and we try to just make a good pint every time.’ The Cartmel beers share shelf space with scores of other regional ales, as well as wines and spirits from all over the world, around the corner at the Red Pepper shop that Peter’s brother David runs with his wife Kelly.
David, who was previously a mechanic in the family firm, said: ‘When we were looking to redevelop the yard there was a food revival happening in Cartmel. It was suggested that we should turn the yard into office space but we thought we could do better than that. Inspired by Italy we wanted to create a courtyard where people could sit and eat the food they have bought here.
‘We weren’t sure if we would be able to create what we had wanted but we are happy with the results. The outside area is a lovely relaxed space.’
And David, who reckons the Unsworth’s Yard development has created in the region of 40 jobs, added: ‘I have always been interested in wine and
now I’m able to do my hobby as a job. We know the wines and the winemakers and we have expert knowledge of every bottle, that’s the appeal of shops like this. People are questioning more and more where their food and drink has come from and we can tell them exactly.
It means shoppers aren’t left to make their decision based on which one has the best label.’ And that kind of in-depth specialist knowledge can be found at Cartmel Cheeses, too. Martin Gott runs the shop, which has possibly the North West’s best selection of cheeses, with his father-inlaw
‘We are quite particular about the cheeses we sell,’ Martin said. ‘We don’t
have a really obvious range of local cheeses – not because we don’t want to sell local cheese but because we want to sell really good, interesting cheeses. It’s nice if it is local, but it’s more important to us that it is really good cheese.’
Martin, whose grandmother Betty Slater ran a chain of grocer’s shops across North Lancashire in the 1950s and 60s, helped his dad on a market stall when he was young. After learning butchery and spending time at London’s Borough Market, he would help with baking in the
kitchen at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant and then started to make cheese. He worked for a cheesemaker in Somerset and Mrs Kirkham’s before opening a dairy at Holker from where he supplied cheese across the country.
‘It frustrated me that the north west didn’t have a really good cheese shop and we thought maybe we could have a go and see what would happen. It has really surprised us how well it has gone.’
They’re doing their bit at Hale’s confectionery shop in the village, too. It
was opened by Bill and Karen Hale a year ago. Their daughter Lauren said: ‘The idea was to provide the best chocolates and confectionery we could. The great thing about Cartmel is that there is a common passion for food among the people here and that is evident in the quality you can find.’
The road to Cartmel
WHERE IS IT?
Cartmel is just a couple of miles from Grange-Over-Sands. Leave the M6 at junction 36 and
follow the A591 and take the A590 towards Barrow before picking up the signs for the village. If you have a satnav, LA11 6QF should take you to the racecourse.
WHERE TO PARK?
There is a village car park by the racecourse and some on-street parking is available in the
village. The pay and display car park is reasonably priced, but is unavailable on race
WHAT CAN I DO THERE?
In May, June, July and August there are race days which are a great day out for all the
family, as is Cartmel Agricultural Show in August. Visit the beautiful Priory Church; discover the delights of the Sticky Toffee Pudding shop as well as the other beautiful independent shops and businesses here.
WHERE CAN I EAT AND DRINK?
Although Cartmel is only small, the village has four pubs as well as Unsworth’s Yard, the
Michelin starred L’Enclume restaurant, a tearoom and plenty of beautiful places to have