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Ambleside store leads the way in sustainable trading

A Cumbrian couple’s new business venture is setting the standard for sustainable trading.

Claire and Alec McCarthy, who run the Rattle Ghyll café in Ambleside, have now opened a fine food and deli shop in the town.

the family at the shop

It’s stocked with local – and natural – produce. And in a bid to eliminate plastic from our shopping bags, one corner is dedicated to zero-waste self-service refills of a range of grocery products.

These include beans, lentils, nuts and seeds, dried fruit, rice and couscous, porridge oats and muesli, which can be dispensed into paper bags or customers’ own containers; and washing up liquid and shampoo.

Claire in the shop

The shop also has a wide range of teas and coffees from local suppliers Atkinsons, Rinaldos and Red Bank, unusual cheeses as well as dairy-free and gluten-free items, fresh salads and home-made cakes.

“We want to know what our customers – locals and tourists – want us to stock,” said Claire. “We’re not just open to suggestions, we positively want them to tell us what they would like to see here.”

There are wines and beers alongside on-trend natural products such as Kimchi -a staple in Korean cuisine, which is a traditional side dish of salted and fermented vegetables – and Kombucha, a fermented drink said to have health benefits. Coming soon will be spice mixes and recipe cards so that customers can make their own versions of what they have tried at the original café.

cheeses and salads at the deli

Claire and Alec, who have a two-year old daughter Adelaide, have been running the Rattle Ghyll café for six years. They have built an award-winning reputation for home cooking and baking which has won fans among locals and tourists alike. It’s especially popular with runners and cyclists.

“The new venture is enabling us to share our concerns about the environment, to help lower carbon footprints by offering a wide range of goods locally, and to encourage shoppers to abandon plastic,” said Claire.

Shoppers were enthusiastic. Early comments included: “This will change the way we shop locally” and “It’s like a proper grocery shop used to be, and so different from all the pre-packaged goods in supermarkets.”

Chris Hodgson, who with his wife Allie runs the town’s award-winning Haven Cottage guest house, and is a member of the sustainability group Ambleside Action for a Future, welcomed the new shop. He said: “This is an exciting new venture which will encourage people to shop locally, for fantastic tasting local produce, and cut down on our use of plastics. It also proves you don’t have to sacrifice taste and flavour to support sustainability.”

A spokesperson for AAFAF said that the group had been quietly cheering on the new venture and was absolutely delighted that it was coming to fruition. “It will certainly contribute very significantly to reducing plastic usage in the town and bring the issue of plastic containers and packaging to the forefront of people’s minds.” She added that AAFAF’s members would certainly be among its most regular and enthusiastic

home baked bread at the new shop


Rydal Round results 2019

Rydal Round Results, July 25 2019

  1. Ricky Lightfoot, Ellenborough (1.25.12)
  2. Nathan Lawson, Dark Peak (1.25.30)
  3. Rhys Findlay Robinson, Dark Peak (1.25.49)
  4. Garry Greenhow, Ambleside (1.28.58) MV40
  5. Joe Kenny, Helm Hill (1.29.09)
  6. Tom Simpson, Ambleside (1.34.15)
  7. Jack Wright, Ambleside (1.35.09)
  8. Max Wainwright, Dark Peak (1.35.12)
  9. Oliver Gajdowski, Ambleside (1.35.16)
  10. James Harris, Ambleside (1.38.41)
  11. Pete Rigby, Helm Hill (1.39.59)
  12. Luke Bowen, Ambleside (1.41.50)
  13. Julian Hood, Barlick (1.42.18) MV40
  14. Steve Jones, Keswick (1.42.33) MV40
  15. Kelli Roberts, Helm Hill (1.42.41) F
  16. Barry Wilkinson, Borrowdale (1.45.15) MV50
  17. John Horrocks, Blackburn Harriers (1.46.00)
  18. Philip Pearson, Northern Fells (1.46.18) MV50
  19. Josh Hartley, Black Combe (1.48.01)
  20. David Blackshaw, u/a (1.48.33) MV40
  21. Dan Gilbert, Horwich (1.48.41) MV40
  22. Dominic Raby, Chorley (1.48.56) MV40
  23. James Baron, Helm Hill (1.49.13) MV50
  24. Simon Netherway, Keswick (1.49.57)
  25. Calvin Routledge, Ambleside (1.50.11) MV50
  26. Natalie Beadle, OUAC (1.50.43) F
  27. James Titmuss, Horwich (1.52.18) MV40
  28. Ben Timbers, KCAC (1.53.11) MV40
  29. Shane Ohly, Helm Hill (1.55.24) MV40
  30. Graham Kennedy, u/a (1.53.50) MV40
  31. Gary Crone u/a (1.54.41) MV40
  32. Karl Steinegger, Ambleside (1.55.01)
  33. Richard Cross, u/a (1.55.19) MV50
  34. Darren Fishwick, Chorley (1.55.31) MV40
  35. Andy Preedy, Rossendale (1.57.27) MV40
  36. Andy Summers, Victoria Park Harriers (1.57.33) MV40
  37. Lucy Scott, u/a (1.57.50) F
  38. Stephen Burton, Accrington RR (1.59.22) MV40
  39. Paul Chamberlain, u/a (2.00.07) MV40
  40. Steve Angus, Keswick (2.00.17) MV50
  41. Bryony Halcrow, Harrogate Harriers (2.00.28) F
  42. Carlos Bedson, Cheshire Hill Racers (2.00.35) MV50
  43. Jo Buckley, CVFR (2.00.55) FV40
  44. Keith Melvin, u/a (2.02.06)
  45. Jonathan Whitaker, Harrogate Harriers (2.02.44) MV50
  46. Jackie Murdy, S Shields Harriers (2.04.57) FV50
  47. Rosie Watson, CVFR (2.07.31) F
  48. Jess Richardson, u/a (2.08.08) F
  49. Leigh Warburton, u/a (2.08.20) MV60
  50. Adam Hayden, Dark peak (2.09.49)
  51. Dan Croft, Macclesfield (2.09.59) MV50
  52. Andrew Tongue, Chorlton (2.10.32)
  53. Ben Vince, u/a (2.11.23)
  54. Joe Rigby, u/a (2.12.36)
  55. Keiran Horrigan, u/a (2.12.42) MV50
  56. Graham Brown, Macclesfield (2.13.52) MV40
  57. Alison Wainwright, Dark Peak (2.14.35) FV50
  58. Jack Waterhouse, u/a (2.15.30)
  59. Jon Underwood, CVFR (2.15.32) MV40
  60. Scott Watson, Hyde Park Harriers (2.15.56) MV40
  61. Marcus Taylor, Horwich (2.16.23) MV40
  62. Ian Greenfield, u/a (2.20.04) MV40
  63. David Williams, Ellenborough (2.20.15)
  64. Nicola Sikes, Bournville Harriers (2.20.16) F
  65. Roger Taylor, Preston Harriers (2.20.23) MV50
  66. Julie Darigala, u/a (2.22.00) FV40
  67. Ella Waddingham, Wimbledon Windmilers (2.23.02) F
  68. Andrea Frost, Macclesfield (2.24.11) FV50
  69. Catherine Spurden, Keswick (2.24.19) F
  70. Tom Makin, Achille Ratti (2.25.24)
  71. Kelly Clark, Victoria Park Harriers (2.28.02) F
  72. Katherine Barker, u/a (2.28.29) F
  73. Dan Oldfield, u/a (2.29.46) MV40
  74. Trevor Symonds, Northern Fells (2.30.37) MV60
  75. Michael McLoughlin, Preston Harriers (2.32.59) MV60
  76. Tom Robinson, u/a (2.33.54)
  77. Katy Thompson, Clayton le Moors (2.34.06) FV60
  78. Neil Weightman, u/a (2.34.17) MV50
  79. Brent Lindsay, Penistone (2.35.52) MV50
  80. Bob Summers, BC Runners (2.36.16)MV40
  81. Alice Kershaw, u/a (2.36.57) F
  82. Don Kershaw, u/a (2.36.58) MV60
  83. Paul Stocks, u/a (2.38.36) MV50
  84. Andrew Conner , Helm Hill (2.47.02) MV50
  85. Denise Turnstall, Durham FR (2.50.44) FV50
  86. Howard Proctor, u/a (2.50.45) MV50
  87. Kevin Ayre, S Shields (2.51.36) MV50
  88. Francis Woofk, Chorlton (2.52.22) MV50
  89. Peter Murray, York Acorn (2.52.47) MV40
  90. Susie Anton u/a (2.53.36) F
  91. Simon Wiggins, Felixstowe (2.54.09) MV40
  92. Ben Gent, Winston Runners (2.57.58) MV40
  93. Niki Rylance, Ambleside (2.57.58) FV40
  94. Richard Tait, Ambleside (3.12.03) MV50
  95. Craig Eccles, Clayton le Moors (3.14.35) MV40








Free help for small business

A project to provide small businesses with graduates and undergraduate interns is under way in Cumbria.

Businesses can apply to have funded assistance for 20 days from under graduates and graduate students with a range of skills, from digital technology to forestry.

The project, organised by Cumbria Innovations Platform, is arranged so that the innovation needs of each small business are supported.

Screen Shot 2019-07-03 at 17.35.07

And there’s flexibility in the project, with students able to work remotely or on campus if it suits the business owner’s needs.

“We have access to a wide range of skills among students who have either graduated or are in their third year in subjects including outdoor studies, science, business studies, creative media and health studies,” said project manager Sarah Allison.

She highlighted as an example Beth, a concept artist with a 2.1 BA (Hons) Games Design who was looking for part-time work before beginning her Masters in September.

“Cumbria has a host of small and micro businesses, with a big emphasis on digital technology and creativity,” said Sarah. “This is a great opportunity for them to access help from people who have the most up to date skills in their particular field”.

Cumbria Innovations Platform is a unique project provided by Lancaster University and University of Cumbria, funded by European Regional Development Funding. It aims to support and encourage innovation in Cumbria by providing micro, small and medium enterprises with a competitive edge, combining the capabilities of various departments from the universities and the provision of bespoke business support.


Anyone interested in taking on an intern should contact




Simply the best in Cumbria

An Ambleside guest house has been judged the best in Cumbria just two years after the new owners took over.

Haven Cottage won the title at the Cumbria Tourism awards, with the judges highlighting the excellent customer service of Chris and Allie Hodgson.

Allie & Chris awards night.JPG

The award was open to bed and breakfast and guest-house businesses providing “truly memorable guest experiences and demonstrating excellence across every aspect of the business”.


Chris and Allie swapped their corporate jobs in their 30s to set-up and run a catered ski chalet in the French Alps, first in Morzine and then in Samoens, before moving back to the UK four years ago, and now run Haven Cottage with the help of housekeeper Cristina Dumitrascu. Chris is a member of Ambleside AC and was one of the organisers of the recent British Fell Relay races at Grasmere, and he’s also an active member of the sustainability group Ambleside Action for a Future.

crhis and allie nice 1

They recently won the coveted ROSE award from Visit England in recognition of service excellence and Haven Cottage is the long-term Trip Advisor No 1 out of 101 establishments in Ambleside. The guest-house has three double bedrooms and two luxury suites, holds four-star gold accreditation from Visit England – and a reputation for excellent breakfasts. They also hold the Green Tourism silver award and are working toward gaining gold status.

Said Allie: “This is a wonderful accolade for us. While we believe that Haven Cottage provides a high level of comfort, it is more about how we run our guest house, and the exceptional customer service we provide, that we believe sets us apart.

“We have a genuine desire to make sure guests enjoy their stay in the Lakes to the maximum and spend time each day helping guests plan their day’s activities and provide detailed itineraries and walks if required.”

Chris said: “We spent over a decade running a very successful ski chalet in the French Alps. The time in France was invaluable in developing our hospitality skills and gave us confidence that our model of ‘excellence in customer service’ was the right one, both for ourselves and our guests.”

The personal touch is combined with an increasing focus on sustainability and community. Products are sourced locally in and around Ambleside to provide high quality breakfasts and toiletries, and the couple actively support the local community both in organised events and helping shape tomorrow’s world of sustainable tourism.

Allie said: “We do go out of our way to ensure guests are having a great stay. What’s the point in having all this knowledge and love for the Lakes if we don’t share it with our guests? It’s great to be recognised this way.”

What guests have said about Haven Cottage:

  • Absolute perfection.
  • The Haven is perfect.
  • Chris and Allie were friendly, informative, welcoming and great breakfast chefs.
  • Nothing I can fault at all.
  • We were there for four nights and were able to observe a variety of guests from hard-core walkers (like us) to people who were car touring. Each couple was given the warmest of welcomes, and if they were new to the Lake District, very personal advice on how to use their time or where to walk given the weather conditions and their skill level.



Paul to tackle the biggest fell challenge

Ambleside AC runner and inov-8 ambassador Paul Tierney is to make an attempt on the UK’s toughest individual mountain challenge, to run all of Alfred Wainwright’s 214 peaks in the Lake District in six days.

Paul (36) is hoping to beat the record time set by Steve Birkinshaw in 2014 who ran the circuit in six days and 13 hours.

Steve Birkinshaw broke the record set by Joss Naylor in 1987, who completed the challenge in seven days, one hour and 25 minutes.

Paul is running the route to raise money for the mental health charity MIND, in memory of his close friend and fellow athlete Chris Stirling who died suddenly last month.

An Irish international trail runner – who also played the sport of hurling at county level – Paul came to live in the Lake District in 2013. He’s a sports therapist who runs Missing Link Coaching with his partner, the Irish international runner Sarah McCormack. They live in Windermere.

Paul and Sarah are both inov-8 ambassadors, running for the Lake District brand which specialises in footwear, clothing and equipment for committed athletes. Forged on the same fells that Paul will be crossing in his Wainwrights attempt, he will rely on the brand’s iconic grip in the rugged off-trail terrain.

paul running

Photo: Steve Ashworth

Paul will eat on the move and sleep in a van at road crossings. He will be supported throughout by family and friends, with groups of runners taking it in turns to pace and navigate him over different sections of the route.

An endurance expert, Paul is a former winner of the Lakeland 100 mile race, and has twice competed in the four-day 330k continuous race in the Italian Alps, the Tor des Geants. He and partner George Foster recently won the 37-mile Old Counties Tops fell race. He completed the Bob Graham round (66 miles, 42 Lakeland summits) in 2012.

The latest challenge, which starts in Keswick on June 14, is 320 miles, with 118,000 feet of climbing. The attempt is sponsored by inov-8, and supported by a number of local companies including Cedar Manor Hotel, Sally’s Cottages, McClures of Windermere and Wilsons of Kendal, and staff at Elterwater independent hostel.

Paul said: “I’m under no illusions as to how tough this challenge will be. I fully expect it to test me to the absolute maximum and probably beyond what I can imagine. I will run what I can, but obviously there is going to be a lot of fast-hiking and, as time goes on, slower hiking involved.

“Once I started recceing the route the scale of the challenge in front of me really sank in. But it is great to know I have Steve’s support and he has been very good to me with his advice and encouragement.”

“I’m also lucky to be part of a great club in Ambleside AC and plenty of my clubmates have already offered their support, as have others among the local fell running community.”

Steve Birkinshaw said: “It’s nice to see someone giving it a go again. The nature of the fell running community means I have offered Paul any help I can with this attempt and will be out supporting him on his run to break my record.”

Paul said: “I want to honour the memory of Chris who overcame so much in his short life and epitomised all that is great about endurance sport. He was an inspiration to me, in how he went from knowing nothing about triathlon to winning the world’s toughest, the Celtman, in just a few years.”

The 214 peaks were described in Wainwright’s seven-volume Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells.

with ben McClure

Paul with Ben McClure of the Windermere food wholesalers who are providing some of the energy requirements for the athlete and his support team, including Lucozade, chocolate bars – and huge quantities of Wilsons Kendal Mint cake!

You can donate to the charity here:

inov8 logo

Cedar Manor Final-01 (002)


mcclures logo jpgelterwater_hostel_logo

Business owners need time to think

Cumbria Innovations Platform is providing a brand new workshop for small Cumbrian businesses struggling to allow time for innovative thinking. The workshop, at the North Lakes Hotel, Penrith on May 2, is the first of its kind for event organiser, Sarah Allison.

The workshop, developed in partnership with Lucy Harrison of the Harrison Network, has been designed to help businesses create the space in which innovative thinking happens, using a number of different tools that business owners/managers can test out and take away to use in their own organisation.

Having worked with small businesses for several years Sarah understands the challenges of taking time away from operations to think about the next new product or service improvement. Yet it is crucial to success and growth.

“Larger companies can employ R&D teams to seek out and develop the next innovation, but in a small business there’s the risk that owners and managers don’t allow themselves that time. And they often don’t have the time to think about innovation in a structured way.”

The workshop will give the delegates a creative space to think about new ideas and how they want their business to develop. There will be practical coaching skills to help them engage, empower, influence and listen.

Sarah says: “I want to help business owners or managers realise the importance of innovative thinking both for themselves and for their teams. It’s an opportunity to give those smaller businesses and sole traders the tools and techniques to support innovative thinking.”

She adds: “If we don’t take the time to observe what’s happening within our sectors and don’t take time to think about our longer term customer needs, we are in danger of stagnation.”

The workshop is taking place at the North Lakes Hotel and Spa at Penrith on May 2, and includes lunch, refreshments and networking opportunities. Full details and booking:


Turning business ideas into reality

The Dragons’ Den generation sees business ideas sold or shredded on reality television.

But in the real world, a Cumbrian organisation is helping businesses with ideas to bring new services and products to market. And their help is free.

Cumbria Innovations Platform is running a workshop next week (April 11) designed specially for small and medium sized enterprises, but from the customer’s perspective.

Says organiser Sarah Allison: “This is not about showing you how to develop something that you think will sell, but is instead a process used to get your customers to tell you what it is that they want to buy.”

The event, at Energus in Workington, is designed for directors and managers from established SME’s seeking to bring new services or products to market as well as entrepreneurs seeking to start and grow a spinout or start-up company.



Experts will run sessions to take delegates through the processes needed before successful product or service development can get under way. They will explain how to set objectives, with an emphasis on the freedom and inspiration that a company needs to innovate.

And they will look at pricing strategies and how businesses can be competitive.

The workshop will be run by Alister Minty has more than 20 years’ experience in Business Development and International Sales, including 3 years in USA and 6 years in Japan. He’s joined by Frank Allison from FIS360 Ltd which has a focus and track record of working with and supporting entrepreneurs at all stages of the commercialisation process, and Gordon Short from Entrepreneur Business School Ltd, is a privately held company which delivers Guided Entrepreneurship training for innovation driven businesses.

Refreshments and lunch will be provided and there is free parking at Energus on the Lilyhall Industrial Estate.

Cumbria Innovations Platform is open to small and medium sized enterprises based in Cumbria, to facilitate business innovation and commercial success.

Book here: