Farm Fresh Food
As the Forest of Bowland’s reputation for artisan food spreads across the country, Katie Wilson at Bowland and Bay is showcasing some of Lancashire’s best artisan food and drink
After 30 years in various tourism and buying roles, the pandemic prompted Katie Wilson to reappraise her life and start her own business.
After 2020 she set her heart on supporting independent artisans in her homeland, developing sustainable micro-adventures, that bring visitors closer than ever before to the latest and finest food around the Forest of Bowland National Landscape.
Bowland and Bay specialises in food tours across the Forest of Bowland and Morecambe Bay – showcasing the very best produce the region has to offer.
From the wheel of her comfortable Mercedes people carrier, Katie takes groups of up to eight on a magical foodie tour of the finest artisans in the region.
Created for food lovers, in the belief that by eating together and sharing stories, visitors have the opportunity to really engage with producers and reconnect with Lancashire’s unique ‘terroir’ on a deeper level.
Katie’s itineraries offer full and half day food tours, each include 7-8 artisan foodie adventures for adults and children over the age of 12 years. Adventures can include cheese and ice cream at the farm, freshly made bakes and comfort classics. Visiting award winning micro-brewers, gin distilleries and inns. There are plenty of opportunities to buy pantry delights along the way.
Strictly for grown-ups are Katie’s weekend Brewery Tours, visiting five breweries, where guests can taste over 15 beers or sample local craft gins, alongside superb street food.
“For me, Lancashire is one of the UK’s hidden gems,” said Katie. “Our food scene is right up there with renowned foodie hotspots like Burgundy in France or Portland in Oregon and a lot of that is down to our climate.
“Lancashire’s climate means we have incredibly lush grass which in turn means our farmers produce great milk which is turned into some of the best cheese in the country.
“The climate also means we can produce great beef, and all the products you associate with that – including, of course, our famous pies!
“We also have the coastline of Morecambe Bay within easy reach, and the unique seafood that this iconic part of the English coastline produces.
“Lancashire really has it all and I think it’s time the county really shouted about its food culture – not just for foodies from the UK – but from all over the world.”Katie Wilson, Bowland and Bay
Katie runs bespoke tours for larger groups or scheduled tours which couples or individuals can join and meet fellow foodies on the day. There’s such a vast array of options, no two tours are identical and customers can shape their own itinerary to match their tastes, interests and appetites!
“We might visit six or eight artisan producers, ranging from fantastic bakers and pastry chefs, to microbreweries in a barn, a gin distillery high up in the fells or a Michelin-starred restaurant,” said Katie. “One thing you can be sure of however, you won’t go home hungry. This is Lancashire, we do things properly here – there’s no half measures or tiny portions!”
Bowland and Bay Food tours start at £85 per person for a half-day Lancashire Foodie Adventure – including all tastings. For more details, consult our tour schedule.
Contact us direct to discuss your specific needs: 07476 001539 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Bowland Food Hall is the most wonderful showcase for the very best of Lancashire’s food and drink producers. We work with passionate food and drink producers across the northwest, to bring the finest fare to your plate. Most of them are small independent artisan producers who farm or grow in Lancashire. Many deliver their fantastically fresh produce direct to the Food Hall and by shopping local not only will you enjoy simply fabulous produce but you are supporting the local economy too.
Pop in to stock up for your stay, order a picnic for your days out, grab a coffee and cake in the cafe or perhaps even take home a hamper of Lancashire goodies as a memento of your trip… whatever culinary treats you discover we can promise you won’t be disappointed!
Holmes Mill, Greenacre Street, Clitheroe, BB7 1EB01200 407130
Nestling beside the River Hodder in a remote valley beneath the rugged ridgeline of the Bleasdale Fells, Bowland Wild Boar Park maintains a tradition dating back to the middle ages – along with a host of fun activities for the whole family.
The Wild Boar was a fearsome creature which once roamed wild across the ancient Forest of Bowland – inspiring fear and reverence among local foresters in equal measure.
Today, wild boar continue to flourish in the Forest of Bowland, but only within the confines of one of the Forest of Bowland’s most popular – and sustainable – visitor attractions. And as well as nurturing the Forest’s only remaining population of wild boar, the park is home to a whole host of fascinating animals – from owls and deer to ostriches and meerkats.
Located between the pretty farming village of Chipping and the ancient hamlet of Whitewell, the Wild Boar Park lies at the heart of an especially scenic corner of the National Landscape known known as ‘Little Bowland’.
As the name suggests, visitors can expect to get up close and personal with the area’s population of wild boar – and usually a handful of super-cute stripey boarlets – but the park’s other residents are equally engaging – especially for children.
Alongside traditional farm animals like rare breed sheep, goats, pigs, chickens and ducks, visitors can also see native species like red deer and rabbits. In addition, the park has a whole menagerie of altogether more exotic species, ranging from the perennially popular meerkat family, to emus and ostriches, alpacas and llamas. Some of these animals can be hand-fed and petted at certain times of day – check the website for details as timings vary.
The park also has an adventure playground and zipwire, tractor and trailer rides and signposted short wildlife walks suitable for the whole family. And after a busy morning getting to know all manner of furry and feathered friends, why not adjourn to the café for hot and cold snack? There’s indoor and outdoor seating and a separate ice cream parlour for those long hot days of summer.
We also have our Rare Breed meat sales in the shop. Indoor activities come rain or shine in the Barn and Education Centre next to the Playground.*
- Ice Cream Parlour and Café serving homemade food (Take away only)
- Barrel, Tractor and Trailer rides *
- Lamb Feeding, Chick Holding *
- Tank Experience
- See Llamas, Red Deer, Ostriches and lots more!
- Camping pods
- Mobility scooter/Tramper available to book
The park is open weekends and midweek during peak season from 10.30am to 4.30pm and dogs on leads are welcome.
Bowland Wild Boar Park, Leagram, Chipping, Preston, PR3 2QT01995 61075
Located in the Bowland Fells in Bleasdale, Farm on the Fell is a dairy farm that does dairy differently. They farm as naturally as possible, as they believe farming should work with nature and not against it.
The farm is home to a cow with calf dairy, where the cows get to rear their own calves from birth. The cows only ever eat a natural diet of pasture and forage for their entire lives. They are not fed any grain. Milk from cows fed a 100 per cent pasture diet has higher levels of desirable Omega 3, higher vitamin and mineral levels particularly vitamin A and E, and lower levels of undesirable omega 6
The milk from the cows is gently pasteurised and sold direct from the on farm milk vending machine, which also serves a range of milkshake flavours.
The delicious fresh milk is also used to make artisan gelato in their on farm processing room, which can enjoyed on the farm while taking in the spectacular views of this National Landscape. Customers can also enjoy their favourite flavours at home, with take home tubs available.
Big Blindhurst Farm, Bleasdale, Preston, PR3 1UT07720290045
Richard and Rachel Trenchard were quietly building a widely admired brand of artisan gin, distilled and rooted in the landscapes of Bowland – and then the Hairy Bikers dropped in for a quick G&T…
After developing an interest in handcrafted small batch gins, which bordered on an obsession, Richard and Rachel Trenchard decided to use over a decade of amassed knowledge to launch their own artisan spirit brand from an additional outbuilding at their home in the shadow of Beacon Fell.
Being gin obsessives, their approach was meticulous – from botanicals which reflect the local area or promote the rich geography and heritage of Bowland, to the artwork for the label and the distinctive retro bottles, nothing was left to chance.
The end product was – perhaps unsurprisingly – a stand-out gin, which was an immediate hit with gin connoisseurs across Lancashire and beyond, winning a prestigious Gold award at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in 2019.
New bottlings – or ‘chapters’ joined the range – all remaining true to the couple’s core values of distilling an authentic artisan product inspired by – and rooted in – the Forest of Bowland.
Following on from the original Chapter One – Signature Gin, which is distilled with 14 botanicals designed to capture the essence of Bowland, was Chapter Two – Dark Skies – a deeper, more warming gin inspired by the glittering starscapes of Bowland’s velvety black night skies.
Further chapters and seasonal releases followed – including Hay Time – flavoured with summer aromatics sourced in collaboration with local farmer Peter Blackwell whose wildflower meadows are some of the most species-rich in Northern England. Richard and Rachel make a donation to conservation projects in the Forest of Bowland for every bottle of Hay Time gin sold.
Alongside producing award-winning gins, Richard and Rachel opened a gin school, allowing visitors to come along and handcraft their own gin. Their foraging and distilling dates allow visitors to collect and distil with foraged botanical following the guidance of an expert forager on the same day.
And as the nation emerged from the first lockdown, a pair of celebrity foodies dropped in to see what all the fuss was about. Dave Myers and Si King – better known as the Hairy Bikers – spent a day making their own gin for their popular BBC TV series The Hairy Bikers Go North.
Si and Dave clearly enjoyed the experience – and after the programme aired for the first time in September 2021, Richard and Rachel were inundated with bookings from across the country and beyond. In response to the surge in demand for their products and experiences, the couple recently opened a second outlet at Wyresdale Park, near Scorton.
As well as a shop retailing the entire range of gins and associated merchandise, Goosnargh Gin’s new Wyresdale outlet will soon be hosting gin schools and other events. While the new shop is open from Thursday to Sunday from 10am to 4pm, advance booking is essential for gin school. Check the website and social media for updates.
Visitors are always welcome at Goosnargh Gin’s two outlets, but check opening times on the website first. Booking in advance is essential for gin school and foraging courses.
Eccles Moss Farm, Bleasdale Road, Whitechapel Preston, PR3 2ER | Goosnargh Gin at Wyresdale Park: The Courtyard, off Sheep Street (behind the Applestore Café)01995 641001
The finest cheese – delivered to your door. It’s no wonder The Daily Telegraph lists The Courtyard Dairy as one of the Top 10 Cheese Shops in the World. The Courtyard Dairy is a truly special cheese maturer and shop. Housed in a thick-walled, old Yorkshire Dales barn it is a cool and humid shop where cheeses are piled high; perfect for ageing cheese. Owned by Andy and Kathy Swinscoe, who have a background working for some of Europe’s finest cheesemongers and affineurs (from London to Lyon), The Courtyard Dairy’s ethos is to only sell and champion truly special cheese. Only stocking 30 selected cheeses, all the cheese are made very traditionally on farms, most are unpasteurised. They are all hand-selected and chosen at the farm before being aged to perfection, you’ll get to try and sample some truly unique and unheard of cheeses.
The excellence of this shop dedicated to championing and keeping alive farmhouse cheese has not gone unnoticed: winners of multiple awards including: Cheesemonger of the Year (World Cheese Awards 2013), ‘Food Shop of the Year’ (Farm Shop & Deli Awards 2020), BBC Food & Farming Awards. It has already become a renowned destination cheesemongers, as regulars and visitors have the opportunity to sample and purchase some of the finest cheese to be found, and now you can have these very fine cheeses delivered direct to your door.
Cheesemonger of the Year (World Cheese Awards 2013 and Farm Shop & Deli Awards 2020), Food Retailer of the Year 2020
Crows Nest Barn Austwick LA2 8AS
Deep in the heart of the Forest Bowland’s famed ‘Lancashire cheese triangle’, a traditional dairy farming family are ploughing their own furrow by producing a distinctive artisan gin with deep roots in the local landscape
Founded in 2019 as part of a farm diversification scheme, Wild Fox distillery has gone from strength to strength, winning the title of best rural drink business in the 2021 Rural Business Awards.
Established by fourth generation Lancashire farmers Rob and Lizzie Billington, the distillery draws pure, fresh water from its own bore hole and features subtle flavours from wild herbs foraged among the farm’s hedgerows for an authentic ‘farm-to-bottle’ product.
Lizzie’s career in new product development, instilled a real passion for creating new products which kept ‘real produce’ at the heart of each new line.
When the couple decided to diversify, Lizzie started exploring what the farm naturally had growing within the fields and hedgerows and combined with fruits and leaves from the orchard. She then purchased a small table top still and began experimenting. After trialling 47 recipes, they were happy they had a product worth sharing with world.
The range now extends to four gins plus seasonal specials including Ivy’s Signature Gin, Blushing Vixen and Twelve Bore – a spicy winter warmer flavoured with orange zest and ginger and bottled at a potent 45% proof!
Rob and Lizzie’s family has been associated with dairy farming and cheese making in Lancashire since 1932.
“For as long as I can remember, a G&T was the staple after-work tipple,” said Lizzie. “Once they’d finished the evening milking, mum and dad used to relax with a gin and tonic. It wasn’t trendy and there weren’t hundreds to choose from, it was simply a high-quality spirit enjoyed with tonic, ice and a slice.”
Alongside farming, Rob’s passion for agricultural engineering has come in handy for maintaining Ivy, the 50-litre copper column still which produces their gin.
Ivy now takes pride of place in a purpose-built distillery and café on the farm which nestles in the shadow of the Bowland Fells in the heart of Lancashire’s rich dairy farming pastureland.
The café welcomes visitors to watch Lizzie and colleagues making the gin and enjoy coffee and home-baked cakes – along with the occasional sample of the latest fruits of their labours.
The Wild Fox Distillery and café is open to the public Wednesday – Friday from 10am – 5pm and on Saturdays from 10am – 3pm for coffee, cake, gin tasting and nibbles. To reserve a table, email email@example.com or call 01995 641136.
For special events and tastings, visit the website: wildfoxdistillery.co.uk or follow Wild Fox on social media.
Why not combine your visit with a walk, developed in partnership with the Forest of Bowland National Landscape:
Wild Fox Distillery to Beacon Fell Circular: www.forestofbowland.com/walking#800625304
Wild Fox Distillery to Brock Bottoms Circular: www.forestofbowland.com/walking#801401612