Park sets out on Dragons-style quest for Cumbrian produce

Henry Wild hopes his park’s own craft ale (pictured) will soon be joined by many other local products

AN AMBLESIDE holiday park, Skelwith Fold, is aiming to give local products top billing in its shop this year – and is asking would-be Cumbrian suppliers to step forward.

Its Dragons’ Den-style search began earlier this month with a plea on social media for Lake District businesses to get in touch, and has so far brought in a “fantastic” response.

The park’s Henry Wild said that over 40 producers had contacted the park with products ranging from speciality crisps and skincare creams to pies and preserves.

“It’s a great reaction, but I’m sure there are many more local businesses which could help our shop’s shelves groan with Cumbrian goodies this year,” said Henry.

“I’m certain their produce will receive a thumbs-up from the many customers we’ll be welcoming, but that’s likely to be just the start of the good news for local suppliers.

“We know from past experience that many guests will be keen to carry on buying the products they enjoy online after they return home, so the sales potential is enormous.

“The range of goods is amazing, and we were even contacted by a gourmet sausage producer based just a few minutes from the park who hadn’t realised we had a shop.”

Henry, whose family has owned the park for over 25 years, said he was keen to develop long-term relationships with suppliers to help them build their businesses.

To that end, he says, all local enterprises hitting an initial sales target will be offered a guaranteed supply agreement lasting for a minimum of six months.

Safari tents, fully equipped and furnished, are one of the popular staying options at Skelwith Fold this year

“Although local produce has always featured in our shop, we want it now to become a showcase for quality Cumbrian merchandise which represents the best in its class,” said Henry.

“A big reason why we took the decision was to try and cut back on the number of miles travelled by products before they reached Ambleside.

“We already offer our own bottled craft ales which are produced for us by a micro-brewery, and donate a percentage of each sale to wildlife preservation organisations.

“These have been enormously successful, and departing guests often buy additional bottles to take home, or order them directly from the brewery.

“I suspect the same will happen for our new Cumbrian suppliers, so sales could be achieved year-round despite our park being closed for much of the winter.

“Meanwhile, our team here is looking forward to selecting the new products and putting them to the test before we open again in March – so we’ll have some lovely lunches coming up!”

In its 130 acre grounds, Skelwith Fold provides glamping accommodation including safari tents, plus touring pitches and holiday homes to rent and own.

There is more information about the park on its website at www.skelwith.com

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