The picturesque Eden Valley in the Lake District is striving to be the first responsible tourist destination in the UK, and slow food, along with sustainable transport, both play a vital role in this vision.
Both are well suited to the much slower and relaxed pace of life that is offered by the quiet lanes of Eden and the Lake District; the verdant valley plains and villages of red sandstone is like another universe, and will also encourage everyone to explore their own timescale, rather that everybody else’s.
Staying in Eden gives you loads of options; visiting cheese makers and artisan creameries, feeding birds in a unique way, and having a go at making bread with organic flour.
Those wishing to feel the knead when staying in Eden can opt for a bread making course at the Little Salkeld Watermill (www.organicmill.co.uk), one of Britain’s few working water-powered corn mills producing stoneground flour in the traditional way with clean, self-renewing water power.
Bread making courses can be one day (£75) or two days (£125) in duration, depending on how deeply you wish to get involved in the world of a miller and baker. Other courses on offer include Quiche, Savoury Tarts and Pies and Cake Making. You can even learn how to build your own outdoor cob oven, using clay and straw to create the perfect baking ‘device’ for your pizzas, bread and other treats.
Just a short hop away, is pioneering organic bakery, the Village Bakery Melmerby (www.village-bakery.com), renowned for the flavours and textures of its organic leaven and sourdough products, not to mention its truly indulgent chocolate brownies.
Travel between here and Little Salkeld Watermill could be done on two-wheels, by traditional bicycle, but if that worries you given your level of fitness, fear not: Eden is putting the electricity into holidays, by offering visitors a simple means of getting from A to B without creating a carbon footprint.
Sustainable tourists can now hire an electric bike fromThe Electric Cycle Centre in Penrith (www.electriccyclecentrepenrith.co.uk) and spend as long as they like using its electric power to tackle those hills and step in where one’s own fitness falls short.
Truly responsible tourists, who leave the car at home and travel to Penrith by train on the main west coast line, will find the centre just a few minutes walk from the station and centre of Penrith, well-served by buses Here, they can hire an electric-powered bike for an hour, a half-day or a day (even longer if they wish) and explore Eden in an exciting and al fresco way!
The charge can last up to six hours, but there are charge points in many different locations in Eden and the hirer is given a charger, which can plug into any three-pin socket. The distance travelled under one charge can be 25-65 miles depending on the model and bikes can be legally hired for children aged 14 and over.
Heading east from Penrith, the truly electric visitor or self-powered cyclist can head out to pick up some of the food that can transform Eden’s bread into a true eat-the-landscape experience.
In the village of Stainton, the Greystone Farm Shop and Tearoom (www.greystonehousefarm.co.uk) has award-winning Cumberland sausages fresh from the farm on sale, while a cycle down to nearby historic home Dalemain and a visit to its tearoom in its mediaeval dining hall will enable you to buy its speciality – marmalade!
If it’s cheese that you find absolutely topping, you can devour some of the cheeses produced at the Appleby Creamery in Appleby, which are stocked at many small shops and delicatessens, or if you are on a longer electric bike run head to the Thornby Moor dairy in Thursby and watch the cheese making (www.thornbymoordairy.co.uk).
The best way to discover the breads and other fabulous foodstuffs of Eden is by staying in the destination. f you opt for a sustainable self-catering option such as Angel Barn or Easby Farm Cottage (www.easbyfarmcottage.co.uk) or your own pine lodge in the shape of Hyggeby Lodge (www.hyggeby.co.uk), you can fill up the fridge and treat yourself to marvellous midnight feasts.
If you prefer, however, to be catered for by a welcoming host, you could stay in a responsible tourism-minded guest house such as Swanson House (www.swansonhouse.co.uk) in Brough, or a hotel such as the Appleby Manor Country House Hotel (www.applebymanor.co.uk), Augill Castle (www.stayinacastle.com) .
But if you wish to rustle up something over a camp stove, you might look at the exquisite Drybeck Farm with its fabulous yurts (www.drybeckfarm.co.uk), the quirky Summer House at Brampton Mill (www.underthethatch.co.uk) or the award-winning and eco-friendly holiday park, The Quiet Site (www.thequietsite.co.uk), close to the shores of Ullswater, at Watermillock.
An array of eco-friendly, responsible and sustainable tourism options within stunning Eden can be found at www.agreeneden.org