Eating around the lakes
PUBLISHED: 10:11 18 March 2014 | UPDATED: 10:11 18 March 2014
Take a tour around Blagdon and Chew Valley lakes where many chefs work in harmony with the seasons to offer locally-produced food and where a community project is great example of sustainable farming
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On 28 acres of land in the Chew Valley, a community farm grows a wide variety of seasonal vegetables which it delivers via a box scheme to about 350 customers every week.
Growing predominantly seasonal UK produce, The Community Farm also works with a network of other Somerset growers who supply produce for their boxes and wholesale.
The Community Farm started trading in 2011 after raising money through community shares and an Open Share offer means others can invest at any time. There are now 500 members who have helped create this model of sustainable farming.
Project Manager Alison Belshaw explains: “TCF has a voluntary board of directors. In addition there are 16 staff, some full-time and some part-time, ranging from box delivery drivers, box packers, field workers, customer services and administration and finance. The small team of people has an amazing range of skills.”
Events include courses on bee keeping and orchard management and there are also weekend community farmer days, giving anyone the chance to get a taste of life on the farm. thecommunityfarm.co.uk/volunteering
The Community Farm is in Chew Magna - a Somerset country village close to Chew Valley Lake and home to a range of businesses like traditional butchers WJ Pearce & Sons and Michelin Star rated pub The Pony and Trap. Meanwhile nearby Blagdon is home to the famous Yeo Valley family dairy where organic gardens overlook the stunning Blagdon Lake
Bear and Swan
Based on the High Street, the pub sponsors the local veterans’ football side. Their well travelled chef has set up restaurants in the south west and he is keen to use local suppliers such as the village butchers. Butcombe Ale, produced just five miles away, is served.
What they say about their pub’s atmosphere: ‘A classic pub vibe with roaring fires, relaxed, cosy and great food.’
01275 331100; ohhpubs.co.uk
The Carpenter’s Arms
Tucked away in a pretty hamlet, this traditional inn is converted from a cluster of miners’ cottages. Fillets of haddock in ‘Doom Bar’ batter with chunky chips and pea puree is a popular choice.
What they say about their ales: ‘Butcombe and Doom Bar are favourites with the locals and there’s usually a seasonal ale on offer as well.’
01761 490202; the-carpenters-arms.co.uk
Chew Valley Lake Teashop
Walley Lane, Chew Valley Lake
Ideal for walkers, bird watchers, cyclists and families, the tea room was built in 1996 after Bristol Water commissioned a survey into what facilities visitors would like.
What they say about their menu: “It is traditional locally sourced fare - ploughman’s lunches, Chew Valley Lake smoked trout, filled jacket potatoes and piping hot soup to keep the winter chill out.” 01275 333345
The building used to be a mini department store which sold everything from tacks and nails to knicker elastic! Today this contemporary café with a beautiful walled garden, has a sandwich delivery round aptly named Chew It.
What they say about the staff: ‘We are all local girls who share the cooking workload. We have an open plan kitchen, so that you can see us making your food! 01275 331173; moondance-cafe.co.uk
The ‘Waldy’ is a former 14th century church meeting house with log fires in the winter and visits from Morris Dancers in the summer. The award winning menu includes vegetables from Bishops Sutton, meat from Bath and fish from Brixham.
What they say about their role in the village: “We have a disused phone box which we have turned in to a community book swap club. We sell local eggs from the farmer and the villagers know if they run out of anything they can come to us for their provisions.”
01761 221429; thewaldegravearms.co.uk
The Kings Arms
Landord Colin Chappell grew up in the Chew Valley and recently moved back after living 30 years on British Columbia, Canada. This traditional pub was originally built as a food mill and in good weather customers can eat beside the River Chew.
What they say about their new menu: “It is what we like to call classic country, traditional West Country meals prepared with fresh seasonal items.” 01761 241301; kingsarmslitton.co.uk
The Pelican Inn
The ‘Pelly’ works with Mother Nature as much as possible and changes its menu every season. Look out for The Pelly Beer and Cider Festival this summer.
What they say to their customers: “We are dog, child and walker friendly so if you’re passing by following a trip around the lakes, pop in and say hello!”
The Pony & Trap
Newtown near Chew Magna
Part of the Valley pub circuit for centuries, The Pony and Trap has a band of loyal locals who enjoy its rustic and warm welcome. Head chef and co-owner Josh Eggleton champions local, seasonal Somerset produce for a menu which he describes as Modern British with influences from Europe and North America.
What they say about their location: “It’s close to two major cities but with all the tranquility you could ask for…and a great big lake!”
Tweet: @theponyandtrap or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ring O’ Bells
Once owned by the founder of Butcombe Brewery, the pub is laid back with a buzzy, friendly atmosphere. Recently the rock band Coldplay performed a secret gig at the Ring O’ Bells; other famous performing guests include Kylie and Tinie Tempah. Special events this year: the annual Cider & Cheese Fayre on 4 May.
What they say about their menu: “We aim to deliver simple yet innovative dishes with a menu that is designed to take a variety of known and lesser known seasonal local ingredients, to create modern British food to suit the atmosphere and feel of the pub - traditional with a modern edge.” 01761 221 284
Woodford Lodge Restaurant
On the western side of Chew Valley Lake, this fishing lodge was constructed in 2000 to hold the World Fly Fishing Championships. It has unrivalled views across the water and Mendip Hills and the menu includes fishermen’s breakfasts, gammon steak and monkfish in lobster sauce.
What they say about the Chew Valley: “It is a truly wonderful place to visit and is as powerful in the autumn and winter as it is in the spring and summer.”
Yeo Valley Organic Garden tearoom
With wonderful views of the Mendip Hills, the tearoom is a cosy retreat on a cold day and a light and airy place in the summer with its open doors leading to the colourful terrace. Sourcing as much as it can from the Yeo Valley farms and garden, the tearoom also serves trout from Blagdon Lake.
What they say about the décor: “There’s always something to raise a smile from the dangling teacups to golden gnomes.”
For information on events call 01761 461425 or visit yeovalley.co.uk/our-valley/our-organic-gardens