I can’t beat a last minute opportunity to escape to the other side of the country to visit family and friends. Such therapy!
Recently, for me, it was also a nostalgic trip down memory lane to the village of Cartmel in the Southern Lakes, having grown up in that area. It is also a picture perfect English village untouched by the ravages of modern life renowned for its priory, puddings and posh eateries.
Sticky toffee pudding and posh nosh
Cartmel is the home of the sticky toffee pudding (or STP), that delightful dessert that makes the taste buds salivate like they’ve been awoken from a long trip in the culinary wilderness. It’s the combination of rich toffee sauce and light, slightly figgy pudding that makes this the perfect pudding in my eyes.
The Cartmel Village Shop has different variations on the classic STP from the Sticky Banana Pudding to the Sticky Ginger and Sticky Chocolate – a treat for any lover of puddings.
We came across Unsworth’s Yard near the Priory, a collection of neat retail units, including Cartmel Cheeses and Bakehouse.
Just had to sample the taste of a new cheese made on the farm where I spent my first few years – another trip down memory lane!!!
Plus next door is Cartmel’s new-fangled microbrewery, Unsworth’s Yard Brewery.
Food lovers as we are, but lacking a large wallet, we did not visit L’Enclume (The Anvil), which is run by Simon Rogan, the renowned chef. This two Michelin-starred restaurant also featured in The Trip, the BBC comedy starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon as cynical food critics.
It’s definitely on my list of places to eat out when I win several million pounds on the National Lottery, but I have made a mental dreamy note for L’Enclume to be a future venue for a romantic encounter or special celebration.
We did eat at Rogan and Company, a second restaurant owned by Simon Rogan, in a converted cottage a hundred metres or so from the village square. It’s sweet on the outside, but inside very serious with an understated Viking chic.
We did also enjoy a traditional Sunday roast one evening at the Kings Arms in the village square.
On the subject of food, the best nosh was cooked by my daughter, Cumberland sausages from Higginson’s, (award winning butchers in Grange-over-Sands), and mash, with lashings of onion gravy, and for afters – her special homemade blueberry and lemon cake.
If you can’t afford the high end restaurants, Cartmel has a rich history to satisfy visitors looking for a cultural experience.
Cartmel dates back to Anglo-Saxon times – in 677 AD King Egfrith of Northumbria gave the village to St Cuthbert which may have led to the development of the village as a religious centre. The Priory was founded in 1190 and this amazing building is well worth a trip with its beautiful interior and unique double bell tower.
It’s remarkable that the church survived at all – when King Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of the monasteries in 1537, its fate looked grim. Like many other priories it was due to be destroyed, pillaged and closed. But at the last minute, it was given a reprieve by the king’s men when they arrived to shut it down.
They realised that the Priory Church was an important meeting place for local people, fishermen and travellers waiting to go across the nearby estuary sands. The entrance porch is worth a detailed look as you enter the Priory with its beautifully carved Norman arch and decorations.
Once inside, there’s the imposing Nave, the spectacular Te Deum and Magnificat stained glass windows, and the towering Perpendicular East Window dating from the 1400s. The vaulted ceilings are particularly impressive too as is the South Transept with its blocked-up night staircase where monks once descended from their dormitories into the chapel at night.
Walking down the aisle of the beautiful Priory was yet another trip down memory lane for me as I remembered being a bridesmaid at the wedding of my best school friend.
To end the nostalgia visit to this special part of South Cumbria, we also visited a nearby unique island – Walney…more about that later………….