Eat Local South West
It’s no wonder so many of us head to the South West for our camping holidays. Warm weather, miles of coastline, pretty villages and plenty of rolling hills make this a playground for lovers of the outdoor life.
The bucolic farmlands and quaint fishing villages may delight the tourists, but they also represent the lifeblood of this region – food. Farmers, fishermen, artisan cheese producers and traditional cider makers are an important part of the South West's rural identity.
Seafood is at its best here – you are never far from a coastline. There are plenty of devoted chefs in rustic beachside shacks to quirky cafes willing and able to turn it into a fantastic meal for you. From cider to cheese, pasties to pies, if fresh and fabulous food is your thing, head to the South West.
Ali's Eat local loves
Cheese - Dorset Blue Vinney, proper Cheddar made in Cheddar caves, Cornish Yarg. Meat - Bush Farm bison steaks, Church Farm lamb chops. Treats - Roskilly's Cornish clotted cream ice cream, lunch in Axbridge's River Cottage canteen. Places – Wells market, Totnes market.
The South Hams area around Dartmouth Club Site is an embarrassment of gourmet riches –rolling hills of fresh produce, plenteous 'just caught’ seafood all served up in cosmopolitan eateries around Dartmouth. Sharpham Vineyard cafe is my ‘must-visit’.
Hidden in a deep valley, the rustic outdoor dining area has exclusive vine-framed views of the River Dart. The setting is divine, the kitchen is a chic-ed up static caravan and the food is fantastic. Kingsbridge crab, local charcuterie or a board of local smoke fish are served with wine and cheese made on-site. It’s laid-back, stylish and unforgettable. The staff even bring round blankets if the breeze gets up. Booking recommended.
A favourite pub of mine in the area is The Crabshell in Kingsbridge. Its laid back atmosphere is helped all the more by its position on the estuary. The outdoor tables on the quay catch the
sun all day, while you can try your hand at catching crabs. (Buckets and crab line provided at the bar). The menu is suitably crustacean-themed – the crab bisque is fantastic.
For a real treat, on both the food and fun front is The Picnic Boat in Dartmouth. Book it for a sunrise cruise along the River Dart with freshly-baked croissants, homemade jams and bread and bucks fizz, you could try the West Country Picnic with local hams and home-made pies or the Seafood Heaven Cruise, a fantasy feast of locally caught lobster and crab.
On our trip, we stopped off for a spot of crab lining on the pontoons by the village of Dittisham before a delicious cruise back to Dartmouth. It may not be cheap, but it’s well worth every penny for a memorable holiday experience.
This Somerset seaside resort is probably better known for its 50’s postcard image and donkey rides than great food. In fact I have had my only ever donkey ride on Weston-super-mare beach at the tender age of eight. But ‘Westons’ bygone era vibe is part of its attraction.
Dr Fox’s Tearoom.
Because of this, I feel that a visit to Weston-Super-Mare should involve a visit to a traditional seafront tea rooms rather than an urbanised slick coffee chain. For me traditional seaside tearooms mean attentive and polite service – you’ll get it in spades at Dr Foxs Tearooms. Set just a little off the beaten track, at the end of Knightstone Island, it feels like a great ‘find’. It’s a top spot for brunch after a blowy walk on the seafront or snuggle on the sofas with some real tea; choose from quiches, ploughmans, omelettes, cheesy French toasts and best of all – freshly made pancakes. It is definitely worth hunting out Dr Fox’s next time you are in Weston.
Just 10 minutes up the road, Puxton Park Farm Shop stocks everything you could need for your holiday grocery list. It has a traditional, on-site, butcher selling meat that is fully traceable, the pork is from their own farm and much of the stock; cheeses, fresh produce and pickles are sourced from companies within a 20 mile radius, there is also a fabulous selection of locally made soft drinks and juices, including traditional ciders – this is Somerset after all. Puxton Park itself is an adventure park, with ride on tractors, farm animals and soft play areas. A one-stop-shop for food and fun.
Well worth the 20-minute drive north from our Bude Site, the Rectory Tea Rooms is set in the tiny rural parish of Morwenstow, over-looking the rugged coastline of north Cornwall. Snug on the inside, picturesque on the outside, this 13th century cottage is rammed to the rafters with vintage china and the heavy oak beams have been salvaged from this shipwreck coast.
Home-made lunches – soups, pies and fish dishes are made with local produce, many from the Rectory’s Organic farm. You can walk off the chocolate cake excesses on the coastal path.
I’m always on the look-out for a great beach-side diner. Food and beach life are two of my greatest passions. Life’s a Beach on Summer Leaze Beach in Bude is the perfect spot to watch the surfers or dog walkers while having a great meal.
Local fish plays a star role on the menu, and the atmosphere is laid back and friendly. What’s not to love?
The Jurassic Coastline lies just minutes from this glorious site. After a day on the beach why not come back to the site and sizzle up a fresh fish supper bought from The Old Watch House wet fish shop at Lyme Regis.
It looks onto the town’s famous Cobb harbour and stocks the daily catch from local boats. There’s bass, mackerel, and hand-dived scallops – the cooking advice is free and inspiring. Better still, catch it yourself.
Just 20 yards from the fish shop, you can hop on to a mackerel fishing trip. Get your rod, great views of the coastline and your supper – all for about £20.
The Hive Cafe, set on the beach in Burton Bradstock has cult status among locals and is a regular haunt of mine when on the south coast. Whether you come for a hot chocolate loaded with marshmallows to warm up after your
blowy winter walk or for a fabulous fish lunch you’ll not be disappointed.
Big on supporting local producers, The Hive is rustic in appearance, but top notch when it comes to what is on your plate. They don’t take bookings, so be prepared to queue on busy summer days.
Just a short drive from Charmouth Club Site is the fabulous Millers Farm Shop, in Kilmington. This is a proper family-run farm shop with a busy and lively atmosphere. No bland shopping experiences here.
Much of the stock of seasonal veg is grown on the farm and the meat is sourced from local farmers. There is even a mobile fish van, run by The Old Watch House in the car park. The perfect one-stop Eat Local shopping experience.
Reconnect with your inner-child as you peer through the glass at the multi-coloured, fairytale flavours in the Rowdey Cow Ice-Cream Parlour. If you are lucky enough to be staying on our Club Site in Wiltshire you are just a five-minute drive from Lower Farm in the village of Rowde.
It has a farm cafe serving simple, unpretentious, reasonably-priced, home-made meals. Meat is from local farms, burgers are made in the farm kitchens. The ice cream comes in 16 different flavours, made with the freshest milk from their cows.
Eat yours outside in the garden while watching the animals or your own monkeys in the play area.
C’mon. If you are staying in Cheddar then cheese has to be top of your list when it comes to seeking out regional specialities.
Once you can get past the crowds and coach loads visiting the spectacular Cheddar Caves, and the biggest gorge in Britain, you’ll discover the food and drink producers in the area are as worthy of your interest.
The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company has revived a tradition of cheese-making that has existed around here since 1170. Visitors can watch the cheesemakers ‘Cheddaring’ by hand, a technique established here many years ago and that has now been reproduced all around the world.
This is the real deal though. The cheese is stored below ground in Cheddar caves, with the right environment to allow it to mature into an award-winning product.
Be careful not to trip over the free-ranging ducks and chickens when you are walking into Nyland Hill Farmshop. This is how farm shops should be.
A cosy shop invitingly full of fresh produce and fabulous beef from the farm but also cakes, pickles, cheese, jams and bread all made by the farmer Nick Hill’s friends and neighbours. And while you shop, you can see and hear the busy farm life going on all around you, as well as listen in on some local gossip.
After shopping you can take time to enjoy one of their ice creams, while sitting out on the patio watching the alpacas.
Devon’s Taw Valley is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to great food, with even greater credentials. The rolling hills and lush valleys around our highly-rated Umberleigh site are host to a justifiably proud bunch of food producers. Many of the growers, farmers, retailers and chefs around here are dedicated to providing food that supports its own community as well as protecting its environment. Also, you’ll find that our site managers Trish and Richard are full of information and top tips on where you can buy local food.
Orchard Farm shop, in Barnstaple stocks local meats, dairy and home grown vegetables and fruit, as well as some organic ranges. Open 6 days a week, there is also a Jungleland play area to keep the children entertained. You can find the farm shop opposite a large supermarket – I know which one I’d choose!
There is also a historic pannier market in Barnstaple, that is open six days a week. Stall holders change throughout the week and include some local food producers.
Good local food pubs are in ample supply here too. Walkable from the site is Weirmarsh Farm Restaurant where the mantra is local, seasonal and fresh. Local seabass and venison features on the menu as well Devonshire beef. It’s only open on Thursday Friday and Saturday evenings, so make sure you book!
The Bell Inn at Chittlehampton also comes recommended by the locals as a dog and child friendly pub. It serves daily home-made specials, such as steak and kidney pie made with local ingredients. It’s a great spot to enjoy the views across the Devonshire countryside or just watch the Alpacas in the field next door. Finally, if you fancy a more international feel to your food (yet still made with local ingredients) try French’s Bistro in Chumleigh The vegetables, herbs and salads are grown by the owners and their friends, the fish is sourced from Devon’s Brixham fish market and milk and butter is sourced direct from the diary in Exbourne just a few miles away. Let’s face it – at Umberleigh you are spoilt for choice!
Certificated Sites with food
Nestled in a private valley, close to Cornwall’s dramatic north coast, Pencuke Farm is a stylish CS run by a forward-thinking young family. With a small-holding and market garden, they are currently in conversation with the Soil Association to achieve organic status and are also aiming to become self-sufficient.
One of the stone barns has been transformed into a neat little farm shop selling produce from their small-holding and market garden. There is a freezer full of pork, lamb and sausages from the farm, home-made ready meals, brownies, jams and fresh bread from the local baker.
Cheristow Lavender is in a truly beautiful spot on a lavender farm, just a stones-throw from the glorious north Devon coast. The shop on the site supplies meat, sausages, burgers and bacon produced by the owner’s brother-in-law. Or, if you don’t want to cook yourself, then there is even a tearoom on-site serving fabulous homemade fare, from soups to pies, sandwiches and plenty of cakes.
Just pop across the road from Marazan Farm to the neighbours house. Here you can buy a range of delicious home-made cakes. In Truro, just four miles away, you will find a great food market held on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9am-4pm.
Crabbs Bluntshay Farm is a great place to come for an authentic rural Dorset experience. You can buy homemade chutneys, honey and cider from the farmhouse door here. Everything is produced from the surrounding orchards, garden and hives set around West Dorset. You will literally taste the landscape with this produce.
For the rest of your supplies, there are two farm shops nearby – Washing Pool Farm, Dottery Road, Bridport and Felicity’s Farm Shop, Morcombelake, near Bridport.
As part of Sharon and Gary Robinsons commitment to their Green Tourism award, they make a real effort to point their campers in the direction of the great local produce available around their CS at Acacia Farm.
As they point out it is possible to be self-sufficient here without a car. Within walking distance is a farm-shop and delicatessen selling local meats, cream and cheeses. The next door neighbour sells vegetables on a stall outside her house, while the post office sells local bread, pies and cakes, which can all be washed down with a glass of scrumpy cider bought from the local cider farm.
You'll find Ten Acres Vineyard tucked away between Dartmoor and Exmoor. Site owners Toby and Esther McKinnel learnt how to grow vines from their expert neighbours and now boast some fine wine which they sell in the campsite shop along with award-winning wines from other local producers. You can also stock up on home-made apple juice and chutneys and eggs from their free-range hens.