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Moveable Feast Part 3

The plan is to replenish supplies in Whitehaven en route to Rowanbank, our next pitch at Beckfoot, near Silloth.
There are three butchers to choose from in Whitehaven, and a very good greengrocer. We also splash out on several Claire’s Handmade (produced at Wigton) chutneys and jams, plus a delicious teabread made with Jefferson’s rum, courtesy of the little shop which fronts The Rum Story visitor attraction in Whitehaven.

Our main reason for visiting the town, however, is Ravenglass campsite warden Sandra Frazer’s recommendation to have lunch at the award-winning Cafe West.

West House charitable trust, which was founded in 1987, is a voluntary organisation providing a range of community-based quality support services for people with learning disabilities in west Cumbria and Carlisle.

Cafe West provides 12 practical training places (four in the kitchen, four in the cafe, and four in the new gallery).
Light, airy, spotlessly clean and, more to the point, a glass counter packed to the brim with all manner of scrumptious sweet treats, we choose a table and scour the menu, eventually plumping for soup of the day (celery) and a ham sandwich.

We also wanted to sample the freshly baked quiches and scotch eggs, not to mention the straight-from-the-oven whigs (a traditional Cumbrian caraway seed bun favoured by Wordsworth as a schoolboy). We ask if we can purchase these to take back to Bessie. No problem, the team kindly oblige, packing our culinary treasures carefully in several plastic boxes to protect them on their travels.
In future no visit to Whitehaven will be complete without a visit to Cafe West!

When we get to Workington, a temporary road closure sends us on a detour. But every cloud has a silver lining, because somehow or other we end up in Dearham, a favourite stopping off point for Him Indoors when he used to work in the area. The village is home to The Cottage Pie, a traditional baker’s which has just notched up its 25th birthday. I tell my other half to pull over so that I can see what all the fuss is about ...
Half a dozen baked gammon joints in one counter, another filled with pies of all description, shelves weighted down with loaves and buns; cakes galore. I send HI back to Bessie for his wallet!

I buy roast ham and roast beef for sandwiches, a couple of little shortcrust pork pies to have with our feast from Cafe West, and two steak pies which I’ll pop in Bessie’s ice box to enjoy on another occasion.

Perfect pitch at Rowanbank

This privately owned site has static caravans for hire, as well as several touring pitches. With views inland to the fells, and across the Solway firth to the mountains of Dumfries and Galloway, it makes a wonderful base for exploring this fantastic corner of Cumbria. You can walk along the beach – which is just across the road - into Silloth, only a few miles up the coast; there are quiet lanes aplenty (and flat too) for the cyclists among you. Several small visitor attractions including the excellent Gincase tearoom, craft shop and farm park; and Bank Mill Nursery with its crazy golf, maze, and coffee shop which, at night, transforms itself into a candlelit bistro.

Rowanbank is also on a regular bus route between Maryport and Silloth so we take advantage of the service to track down some more culinary goodies ...

On Maryport’s main street there’s a butcher, greengrocer and a baker’s, Kemps, which is obviously well supported by locals. There’s an excellent choice of freshly-made sandwiches and pots of salad topped with slices of hard-boiled egg, huge slabs of cake, and those little white plastic trays filled with good old-fashioned trifle.

Just up the road is the newly-refurbished Golden Lion Hotel, bar and restaurant, which has fabulous views overlooking Maryport Harbour.

But it’s a wet fish shop we’re after – you can’t visit the seaside and not have fish for tea.
We find The Catch on the quayside, which is operated as a fisherman’s co-operative. I buy natural smoked haddock which I’ll use as the base for a kedgeree, one of my favourite one-pan meals.
You will also find fresh fish on sale at Bennett’s in Silloth, on the approach to the docks. In addition, the shop sells a range of produce from Furness, Fish and Game based at Flookburgh in South Cumbria.
Apart from being famous for its fish and chips, Silloth also boasts one other culinary claim to fame ... tucked away on the corner of Esk Street is Margaret Snaith’s Solway Kitchen and Cookware shop. Margaret also manages an on-line ordering service via her website as well as retailing from her ‘front room’ shop. She’s got a good eye for every cook’s need – from utensils and bakeware, to pots, pans, and food presentation. I can’t resist some silicon serving utensils in eye-catching red to match my kitchen.

Food file:
The Gincase Farmhouse tearoom, craft barn, art gallery, farm park & parrot attraction
The tearoom, craftbarn and gallery enjoy free admission. Everything about this visitor attraction is first rate.
Open every day except Monday, 10.30am-4.30pm.
Mawbray Hayrigg, Silloth, CA7 4LL, tel: 016973-32020

Bennett’s wet fish shop
Situated by the dock entrance at Silloth tel: 016973-31334
Open 9am to 4.30pm, closed Sunday and Monday

Solway Kitchen & Cookware
30 Esk Street, Silloth, CA7 4BU, tel: 016973-32423

The Catch, wet fish shop
Situated on the quayside at Maryport harbour. Tel: 01900-819808
Open Monday to Friday 10am to 3.30pm and Saturday, 10am to 1pm.

Bank Mill Nurseries (& The Dunes Bistro)
Talk about versatile – by day enjoy the crazy golf, butterfly house, and nurseries, to name but three, then relax in the delightful coffee shop which, at night, transforms into little bistro.
Open seven days a week – The Dunes Coffee Shop (10am to 4.30pm) becomes a licensed bistro at 6pm (last orders 9pm, closed Mon/Tue).
Situated at Beckfoot, between Mawbray and Silloth, tel: 01900-881340
or visit

The Golden Lion Hotel, bar & restaurant
Senhouse Street, Maryport, CA15 6AB, tel: 01900-819715
examples from the menu include – carpaccio of pigeon with spring onion, soy maple dressing & Parmesan crisp; steamed fillet of seabass with noodles, chilli, ginger & lime; iced chocolate terrine with white chocolate sauce & Chantilly cream (special Sunday lunch menu also available).

The Rum Story, Whitehaven
27 Lowther Street, Whitehaven
tel: 01946-592933
The courtyard cafe sells home-style meals from 10am to 4.30pm. There is also a well-stocked shop with many locally-made foods.

Cafe West, Whitehaven
Award-winning cafe and gallery serving delicious, freshly-made food; the service is excellent too.
Open Monday to Saturday, 9.30am to 3pm.
56 King Street, Whitehaven, CA28 7JH, tel: 01946-59896

Perfect pitch:

Rowanbank caravan park, Beckfoot, Silloth-on-Solway
static caravans, holiday hire, seasonal & occasional touring
tel: 01697-331653 / 01625-533666

The Lowther Arms & Caravan Park
This Camra award-winning pub has several touring pitches at the rear of the public house, very handy indeed for its home-style, traditional bar meal menu and real ales.
Tel: 01900-881337

Stanwix Park Holiday Centre, Silloth
Holiday caravans and apartments, tents, tourers, motorhomes
Tel: 016973-32666

Here’s something I made earlier:
Kedgeree is one of those adaptable dishes, perfect for foodies on the move. Essentially, it’s a risotto, with a slight curry edge, comprising rice, smoked haddock and topped with hard boiled egg quarters.
But that’s where the rule book stops. The version I made at Rowanbank used the smoked haddock we had bought at Maryport and was flavoured with a good pinch each of cumin and coriander.

I also used finely sliced leeks, chopped peppers and courgette, chilli flakes, and plenty of black pepper (go easy on the salt because of the smoked haddock).

But by the time I had finished adding this and that, my pan resembled more of a paella than a kedgeree. Talking of which, here are some other combos for your kedgeree/paella/rice stew...
Chicken, bacon and mushroom
Smoked haddock and bacon
Chicken and prawns
Just vegetables
And instead of adding water (or stock if you have it) for the rice to cook in, try adding a tin of chopped tomatoes instead. Or use water, but add some crème fraiche prior to serving.

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