Cumbria’s reputation as one of the finest foodie destinations in the UK has been given another welcome boost this week, thanks to the publication of an article on the BBC Good Food website following a visit paid by a member of its team last year.

With a circulation of almost 160,000 and readership of 13 million people, the title and its accompanying website is the UK’s best-selling food and drink magazine and one of the overall top five monthly consumer titles across all genres.

As Cumbria’s food and drink offering is one of Cumbria Tourism’s key annual themes and cited by the organisation as a prime motivator for visits, the organisation arranged meals at three of Cumbria’s newest Michelin Starrecipients, as well as visits to a selection of other “must visit” food & drink related businesses.

This month marks exactly a year since the prestigious Michelin Guide boosted Cumbria’s star total from five stars to eight, giving the county the highest number of stars anywhere north of London.

 First stop on the BBC’s tour was ‘Allium’ at Askham Hall, where writer Natalie Hardwick was given a first-hand look at how Head Chef Richard Swale carefully selects the ingredients straight from the gardens for his award-winning dishes.

 Next was The Cottage in the Wood at Braithwaite (pictured), followed by Old Stamp House and its sister restaurant Kysty in Ambleside, where Natalie enjoyed an outdoor foraging experience before lunch was served – using the very ingredients sourced with the restaurant’s team from outside just an hour earlier.

Grasmere Gingerbread hosted a behind the scenes tour before Natalie enjoyed afternoon tea at The Lingholm Estate and sampled the Lakes Distillery’s new ‘Whiskey and Chocolate’ tours. The BBC Good Food team also paid a visit to Sedbergh, dropping-in at the Black Bull and The Three Hairs.

Natalie says, “My visit to Cumbria was such a memorable, action-packed trip, and Cumbria Tourism certainly set me up with an itinerary to remember. The variety of what’s on-offer was definitely worth making the trip for, and I’d strongly recommend our readers sample all the places I visited for themselves at the earliest opportunity.”

While publication of the article was initially postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is now available, here.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “It goes without saying that Cumbria’s hospitality sector, along with the rest of the UK, has endured a very difficult 2020. But this acknowledgement of The Lake District’s foodie-offering has come at just the right time, especially following this month’s Lonely Planet ‘Top 500 Essential Travel List’, which positioned The Lake District as the UK’s highest placing.

 It’s brilliant that we can boast these high profile Michelin star restaurants, but as we all know high quality Cumbrian food and warm hospitality to complement can we found in abundance right cross our county’s wonderful eateries – pubs, cafes, hotels – in our towns, along our coast and nestled in our countryside. If you haven’t already it’s worth picking up a MyCumbria Card which offers lots of inspiration but also some fantastic discounts for local residents, at mycumbriacard.co.uk.

 “And if you are wondering what to buy someone this Christmas, a foodie gift voucher is a great way to support local producers and businesses and also ensure a memorable culinary experience. With so many well-known publications featuring the county prominently in their destination coverage, we hope their readers – including readers of BBC Good Food magazine will pay us a visit during the cosy autumn and winter months to enjoy a hearty meal, created by some of the country’s finest chefs, all of whom we are very proud.”

Yesterday (Sunday 27 September) marked World Tourism Day, organised annually by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation to highlight the importance of tourism for all parts of our society.

Cumbria Tourism Chairman Jim Walker explains why he believes this message is more important than ever.

He says, “The Lake District, Cumbria is one of Britain’s few truly world-class destinations. There is no doubt that our environment, our culture and our way of life are fundamental to the success of tourism AND the wellbeing of the people who live here. In turn, tourism helps our communities hold onto a uniquely Cumbrian culture and heritage, supporting local communities and ways of life.

 “However, Cumbria is far more dependent on tourism than most other parts of the UK. Before COVID hit, the industry contributed £3.13billion annually to the local economy. It is also a leading source of employment, supporting 65,500 jobs and helping to sustain diverse, vibrant local communities.

“Sadly, the pandemic has brought the world to a standstill and our sector is among the hardest hit. More than £1.5billion has already been wiped off the county’s tourism income this year and trading over the last two and a half months alone will not recoup those financial losses. 

With reduced capacity and ever-evolving government restrictions, businesses are now critically concerned about the traditionally quieter autumn and winter period.  Cumbria Tourism’s latest research shows that business confidence is plummeting and the industry will continue to be impacted for many months to come, which is why we are renewing our calls to extend the support the Government has already provided with a winter package to protect jobs, support businesses and support customers.

 “As they have reopened, many tourism operators have had to rethink their business models; the county too now needs to rethink how it supports the visitor economy in a changed world.

This innovative mindset will be vital over the coming months to face the complexities of the ever-changing restrictions we face.

 “As ever, Cumbria’s tourism and hospitality businesses have shown resilience, guts and sheer hard work and determination in the face of adversity. On this World Tourism Day, there is certainly an opportunity to rethink how things are done in the tourism sector.

“The spirit of World Tourism Day is cooperation and collaboration. This resonates strongly with our tourism industry here in Cumbria and is precisely why the role of Cumbria Tourism is so important – helping everyone to work together towards a common goal and supporting both individual businesses and the sector as a whole.

“For example, Cumbria Tourism’s #theperfectplacetobe Recovery Marketing Campaign is supporting the safe return of the visitor market by inspiring visits and supporting businesses during the crucial autumn and winter period.

 “We are also constantly gathering and reviewing market intelligence. A newly-launched visitor survey will help the organisation to understand more about this year’s visitor, to support effective destination management and marketing. Meanwhile, the rich data from our latest business tracker research enables us to fight for our industry at the highest levels in this complex and ever-evolving situation.

 “None of this would be possible without our tourism member businesses, who are the lifeblood of the organisation. We don’t know exactly what is to come in the coming weeks and this will be a World Tourism Day like no other, but it is a timely reminder that together we are stronger.”

What do David Hasselhoff, TV presenter Helen Skelton and actress Anna Friel all have in common?

They’re among just three of the high-profile names to contribute to a new Cumbria Tourism initiative which forms part of its Autumn and Winter Marketing Campaign to inspire visits to the Lake District, Cumbria.

Other familiar faces getting behind the new celebrity endorsement campaign range from TV personality and regular visitor Julia Bradbury, comedian Jon Richardson, and Olympic and Great North Swim competitor Cassie Patten, to homegrown Cumbrian heroes including mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington, Lord Melvyn Bragg and MasterChef 2019 winner Irini Tzortzoglou.

The initiative is part of Cumbria Tourism’s wider #theperfectplacetobe Recovery Marketing Campaign to help tourism and hospitality businesses affected by more than £1.5billion lost income following the impact of COVID-19. Following months of closure and just a few short weeks of summer trading, thousands of tourism jobs in the county are at risk, so the performance of the industry during the autumn and winter months will be all the more critical this year.

To help launch the campaign’s autumn activity and build on the momentum for staycations, Cumbria Tourism has called on an array of well-known faces across different walks of life – many of whom have strong Cumbrian connections – and invited them to show their love for this world-class destination by sharing their own personal messages.

The aim is simple: To share their favourite parts of the Lake District, Cumbria, and to inspire people to rediscover this diverse and spacious county during the traditionally quieter months for a well-served staycation. We are pleased to say our celebs have jumped at the chance to get behind Cumbria Tourism and the industry.

Locations featured alongside the messages from each celebrity include St Bees, Cartmel, the Solway Plain, Scafell Pike, Ullswater, Wastwater, Blencathra, Muncaster, Derwentwater, Kendal, Windermere, Catbells, Dodd Fell, Helvellyn and many more.

The celebrity messages will be shared with Cumbria Tourism’s social media audience of more than a quarter of a million people in the coming weeks, and each celebrity will also be asked to share them on their own channels to highlight the region as a great place to visit all-year round.

The full range of Cumbria Tourism’s celebrity endorsements will also be available on the region’s official tourism website, visitlakedistrict.com here, and feature in the 2021 Lake District, Cumbria, Holiday Guide. The Cumbria Tourism team will also be tagging participating celebrities into its posts and asking them to reshare with their social media audiences.

“We all know this is a special place but with so many well-known faces sharing that passion it’s great to hear their insights and genuine love or connection with the county,” says Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh.

“The messages have been a joy to read and we can’t wait to share them with our potential visitors, particularly those who missed their holidays here during lockdown. Our awe-inspiring landscape has so much to offer; not only some superb outdoor adventures, but also fantastic food, fascinating culture and heritage, and plenty of unique attractions and experiences.”

Another celebrity to add his name to the campaign is broadcaster Stuart Maconie, who says, “Last week for the first time in many months, I did two fell walks in Cumbria and I’ve been missing it so much. In fact, I hadn’t realised just how much I’d been missing it until I was out there again. Everything is there – the lakes are there, the shops, the pubs and the restaurants are there. Obviously, you may have to book ahead now things are a little different to normal, but Cumbria is open for businesses and is welcoming you back so it would be great to see you there.”

As the summer holidays draw to a close, Cumbria Tourism is calling on residents to continue their strong support for local attractions and the thousands of local people employed by the tourism sector by getting involved in this week’s #CumbriaAttractionsWeek.

Running until Sunday (September 6), the county’s official Destination Management Organisation is asking people to help raise the profile of the attractions they visit by posting photos of their day-out on social media, using the hashtag #CumbriaAttractionsWeek.

Designed to inspire residents to visit somewhere new and discover even more of what’s right on the doorstep, the initiative will be used to reaffirm how local people are just as integral to the strength of the county’s economy as visitors from further afield.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “We all enjoy visiting pubs, restaurants and cafes and it is common for us all to look around for ideas for a day-out close to where we live. By choosing to visit a local attraction, every resident will be playing a vital role in helping to protect 65,000 jobs, the economy and the way of life we all benefit from.

“The range of opportunities we have here is simply incredible. We have got wildlife attractions like Predator Experience and the Lake District Wildlife Park, to the birds of prey at Muncaster Castle and the Lake District Coast Aquarium. There are stunning gardens like those at Askham Hall, a chance to explore the arts at Tullie House or delve into Cumbria’s heritage at the Ruskin Museum, the Lakeland Motor Museum, Beacon Museum and The Senhouse Museum.

“Experiences range from mediation at Conishead Priory’s Manjushri temple, creating confectionary at The Chocolate Factory, blowing glass at Cumbria Crystal, or trying dry-stone walling. We have got train and boat rides and plenty of physical activities too, from golf at Carus Green, water sports at Low Wood, fell pony camping adventures, and swinging among the branches at Treetop Trek. The list really goes on and on.

“With so much on offer, Cumbria remains the perfect place to recharge, reconnect, reflect and rediscover with friends, family and support bubbles after such a strange and difficult first half of 2020. We thank local people for their support but do remind them to plan visits in advance and book ahead.”

Among the attractions to have felt the benefits of local support in recent weeks is Whinlatter Forest. Mark Holroyd, Head of Recreation and Communications for Forestry England, says, “In recent weeks we’ve seen a really encouraging rise in the number of cyclists and record numbers of people trying-out Go Ape, with 120 to 180 participants a day. Overall, visitor numbers are up 40% on this time last year and our average stay length is slightly up as well.”

Asia Connor, Sales Manager at tour operator Mountain Goat, says, “As a small local company we appreciate the support from both visitors and locals alike. We rely on locals throughout the shoulder months to book private hires and local services and appreciate their business. I believe this year we have shown how reliant we have become on visitors and international markets but here at Mountain Goat it has made us review our local market and make sure we are looking after them as well.”

Meanwhile, massive savings can be made on many local attractions by holders of Cumbria Tourism’s ‘MyCumbria’ card. Full details of all offers are online here.

After months of entertaining and educating the kids at home, bosses at the Senhouse Roman Museum are hoping the newly-reopened attraction can help reignite children’s interest in Cumbrian history and jumpstart their preparations for a return to school next month.

After re-opening to the public last week, bosses at the attraction near Maryport say they are already getting widespread interest from residents across the county who want to rediscover the little-known stories of life for ordinary people in Cumbria during the Roman occupation almost 2000 years ago.

Museum Manager, Jane Laskey, says, “I think people have been itching to get out and experience museums and cultural attractions again. We genuinely have one of the most important Roman collections in Britain here in Cumbria and right now, people are very open to the idea of exploring those hidden gems on their doorsteps.

 “With children returning to school in a few weeks, the education slant is an added bonus for parents who want to get youngsters thinking in a fun and informative way. We’ve certainly had plenty of interest not just from families in West Cumbria, but also from those in the south and east of the county who want to come and explore our spacious coastal site.

 “There have also been enquiries from couples and older visitors who have cancelled foreign holidays this year and are looking for more unusual day trips.

 “There’s an added appeal because we are in a dramatic location overlooking cliffs alongside the Cumbrian Coastal Way, giving people an easy, scenic walking route along the shoreline to Maryport Marina and other attractions like the Lake District Coast Aquarium and the town’s Maritime Museum. In the other direction, there is Silloth and the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).”

The Museum itself has put a number of measures in place to help manage the flow of people and by ensuring people book ahead and space out their visits, there is a real possibility of some ticket-holders having near-exclusive use of the Museum during their visit.

 Jane adds, “Lockdown has given so many of us a greater appreciation for the world around us and made us think about how the way we live our lives. During the Roman Occupation, different cultures and traditions melded together and there some interesting parallels with our society today, which really do make you think.”

I believe plenty of people who don’t see themselves as ‘average’ museum visitors will be surprised by some of the unique objects and fascinating stories they can discover here at Senhouse Roman Museum.  There’s an outdated perception that museums are dry and dusty places with limited appeal, but that’s not true: museums are for everyone!

The majority of Senhouse Roman Museum is now open daily from 11am to 5pm. A one-way system is in place, with visitors asked to wear facemasks and respect the 2-metre social distancing rule. Entry to the Museum should be pre-booked online and visitors will be allocated a timed slot to explore.

 The attraction has also achieved its official ‘We’re Good to Go’ accreditation to show it is following all the official Government safety measures and public health guidance.

Cumbria Tourism is using the Government’s ‘Love Culture Week’ (from 17 August 2020) to highlight the amazing range of museums, galleries, heritage sites, cinemas and cultural organisations we have in the Lake District, Cumbria.  It’s all part of the national #EnjoySummerSafely  campaign.

It’s also ideal content for #theperfectplacetobe campaign and a fantastic way for the county to get behind our world-class cultural offering and show visitors it is #theperfectplacetorediscover all we have to offer, while reassuring them about the safety measures in place.

We are encouraging people to get involved with our social media and blog activity throughout the week. On Thursday 20 August, we are also asking visitors to join us in sharing #ThrowbackThursday photos from their previous holidays and day trips to the Lake District, Cumbria of the past and say why they can’t wait to visit again.

We hope you will join us in shouting about our massively talented and inventive cultural sector next week and use it as a marketing opportunity to promote all things culture and heritage to your customers.

Learn more

The Government’s ‘Shop Local Week’ is running until 17 August to encourage shoppers to return to their local high street and to shop safely, and there’s never been a better time for residents to show how much they love The Lake District, Cumbria, than by supporting local retailers and communities.

Although famous for its world class landscape, Cumbria also boasts a multitude of fabulous independent shops, with plenty of retail therapy on offer across the stunning National Park, in towns dotted along more than 100 miles of the county’s coastline, in and around the city of Carlisle, and to the east of the county where the Lakes meets the Dales.

Businesses and shops on high streets up and down the county have adapted since the outbreak of coronavirus and are now able to welcome customers back to business-almost-as-usual.

Shop Local Week reassures shoppers that safety is paramount, and that their custom is valued by local high street shops and businesses. It also gives customers an opportunity to show appreciation and support for their local communities.

The initiative is part of the Government’s Enjoy Summer Safely campaign, which aims to inspire the public to get back to the things they enjoy, whilst following coronavirus safety guidelines.

Cumbria is brimming with dynamic and exciting shops, offering everything from groceries to artisan gifts and food. From the city of Carlisle to towns like Barrow, Kendal, Ulverston and Cockermouth, to tucked away gems like Alston or Coniston.

With bespoke independent outlets in historic market towns like Kirkby Lonsdale and Penrith, there’s also the official ‘book town’ of Sedbergh, where plenty of opportunities await those who want to get lost inside a new set of pages.

Also well-worth a look are shops in the coastal spots of Whitehaven, Workington and Maryport. Many visitor attractions have shops on-site too.

‘Shop Local Week’ also coincides with ‘Afternoon Tea Week’: A celebration of one of the nation’s favourite traditions. Whether enjoyed in a 5-star hotel or in a cosy cafe, The Lake District, Cumbria, is the home of countless providers of some of the best afternoon teas that money can buy.

It’s another great excuse to take advantage of the government’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme which is running this month, again to help local food and drink businesses get back on their feet.

The Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme will give people a discount of up to 50% when eating or drinking soft drinks in participating cafes, pubs, restaurants and hotels Monday-Wednesday, until 31 August. The maximum discount available is £10 per person, with establishments deducting the money off the bill and claiming it back from the Government.

Many places also offer great discounts on afternoon teas to holders of Cumbria Tourism’s ‘MyCumbria’ discount card. So, what better way to celebrate conquering a mountain than by raising a glass to the achievement, and tucking into a tasty meal or afternoon snack?

To qualify as a card holder, you just need to either live or work in a CA or LA postcode area.  For further information on MyCumbria, contact: info@mycumbriacard.co.uk

Cumbria Tourism has teamed up with the county’s Lord Lieutenant and MPs in county-wide efforts to help local food and drink businesses get back up and running through the Government’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme.

Over the past 48 hours, Cumbria Tourism Board members have been out and about meeting local businesses who are offering discounts as part of the newly-launched ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ initiative.  They have been accompanied by Cumbria’s Lord Lieutenant Claire Hensman and MPs from across the county, to listen to their recent experiences about the impact of the pandemic and to help inspire customer confidence about eating out again.

Locations ranged from Coniston, Hawkshead, Keswick and Cockermouth, to Barrow and Ulverston, alongside Brampton, Carlisle and Workington.

Chairman of Cumbria Tourism, Jim Walker, has been among those visiting hospitality businesses. He says, “More than 65,500 jobs and livelihoods rely on Cumbria’s visitor economy, so we are hoping that ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ will provide a much-needed boost for hardworking tourism businesses, who have pulled out all the stops to ensure their establishments are COVID-secure and ready to welcome people back.

 “We thank everyone involved in the whistle-stop tours so far this week; the aim is not just to reassure and encourage people to eat out, but also to consider combining meals with day trips or overnight stays to the fantastic range of attractions and accommodation providers we have here on our doorsteps. By supporting local businesses through the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme, residents across Cumbria really can show their practical support for our vital tourism industry.”

The Government’s new ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme runs on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout August and enables people to get 50% off up to the value of £10 per person in any participating establishment.

Cumbria Tourism is promoting participating Cumbrian businesses on its visitor facing website www.visitlakedistrict.com and is recommending that customers contact their chosen establishments in advance to book ahead.

The Government has also launched a restaurant finder to enable diners to search for participating eateries within a 5 mile radius of a specific postcode.
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As visitors continue to return to Cumbria many cannot wait to return to enjoy the Lake District’s outdoor spaces, and the county’s official Destination Management Organisation (DMO) is working alongside partners to help make sure first-time hikers and experienced adventurers enjoy a safe return to the fells by planning ahead and asking themselves three simple questions.

94% of visitors surveyed by Cumbria Tourism reported feeling better mentally during their trip*, and with exercise currently being encouraged a hike, cycle or even wild swim is a fantastic way for many to enjoy low-impact exercise in the fresh air as part of a wider trip sampling the county’s attractions.

Whilst Cumbria Tourism always encourages visitors to enjoy the outdoors safely as part of its destination marketing, the current situation means that it is more important than ever to plan ahead. They are encouraging those looking to get active to ask themselves three simple questions to ensure they stay AdventureSmart.

1 Do I know what the weather will be like?

2 Do I have the right gear?

3 Do I have the knowledge & skills for the day?

 

The object of the campaign is not to dissuade visitors from lacing up their boots, rather to help them plan ahead and consider the risks before making an informed decision. Whilst the weather or an individual’s skills may mean one route is unavailable, there are plenty of other options to choose from.

Cumbria Tourism Chair Jim Walker says “The Lake District, Cumbria is a truly fantastic place to enjoy the great outdoors, and after months of lockdown we are welcoming the return of visitors. It’s been very encouraging to see tourists abiding by the new social distancing measures to reduce the spread of Coronavirus but it’s important not to overlook other safety measures.

 “Nobody sets out expecting to require the emergency services but even in summer the weather is changeable, it doesn’t take much effort to plan for the conditions and ensure an enjoyable and safe day out.

Our local mountain rescue volunteers do an amazing job, but we all need to ensure their services are reserved for unavoidable emergencies.”

Cumbria also boasts a fantastic range of guides and instructors prepared to help the less experienced, or those looking to expand their comfort zone whilst minimising risk. Outdoor businesses have adapted their practices to reflect social distancing guidelines and are ready to offer high-quality experiences.

Local outdoor instructor Stuart Lockton from The Expedition Club says “So many outdoor activities are naturally socially-distanced. As an outdoor activities guide working with a wide range of clients doing activities in the hills and on the lakes I have had to adapt my procedures to the current climate, but this doesn’t fundamentally change the nature of our provision – supporting people of all backgrounds to be active and experience the wonderful outdoor space available in the Lake District.

 I now ensure all my interactions with clients are outside. I work with smaller groups, following the latest guidelines. I have changed the way I brief groups about any equipment such as climbing harnesses and canoe paddles, to avoid close contact. I either wipe down or quarantine equipment which has been handled by clients.

 Overall, my customers will still be able to experience the same exciting and invigorating or renewing experiences outdoors and in nature, under the watchful and supportive guidance of an experienced, qualified instructor, as I have always been able to deliver.”

Safety information is available on www.visitlakedistrict.com as well as at www.adventuresmart.uk

*Cumbria Tourism Visitor Survey 2018.