Dalemain Marmalade Festival

The bus I caught from Keswick did not go to Dalemain Hall, where the marmalade festival was being held. Instead it stopped in Stainton, which I had also wanted to visit because Jess (one of my dearest friends) Stainton’s family have connections to the place.

The view from the bus was almost completely obscured by condensation but I kept track of the journey using my OS map app and made sure I got off at the right stop. Isn’t technology wonderful?

All bus journeys are £2 at the moment, but I needed coins so I went into Booths before I set off and bought some jubes. I ate them on the bus and they reminded me of Mum, who always used to buy us a bag of jubes to share on long road trips. This was not a long trip but, somehow, they were all gone by the end anyway.

Stainton was a very small village, and on the map it looked like a very short walk up one street, then through a strip of wood and then over a field to get to the site. In fact it looked so simple I didn’t even take my walking poles (insert ominous music).

I took a few photos in the village. I particularly liked this house, which looked very Jane Austin-y. I could just imagine the family from Pride and Prejudice bursting out of the front door in a flurry of petticoats and lace.

Just before I got to the top of the hill I saw a pile of broken white ceramic in a pile on the kerb and when I got closer I noticed some wag had written on it.

I’d love to have been there when the person, who I assume just happened to have a marker handy, stopped to write on it. Or maybe they had to go get a pen and come back?

Anyhow, up the cute steps and through the tiny gate, I felt like I was climbing into someone’s yard, possibly a hobbit’s.

Next I had to walk through a thicket of wild raspberry canes.

Then across a field with a tiny stone hut.

Before entering a very other-worldly wood of bare trees and vibrantly green wild garlic.

Stunning! It smelled like garlic too.

Also, it was very muddy and steep. I slowly clambered down some wet and mossy steps and cautiously negotiated the muddy leaves, wishing all the while I had brought my walking poles (see? Foreshadowed!) . I am taking no risks when it comes to hurting myself on this holiday, but I creep along, clutching at trees and praying no one comes by to laugh at me.

After the woods another stile with a little dog hole, then across a field to the festival.

It was raining a bit and I’m pretty sure I was the only one who walked there as the car park was full and everyone was over 60.

There was gin tasting, orange juice drinking, bell ringing and tea sampling.

And marmalade!


I went into the first room and got chatting (if this blog was a drinking game and you had to drink every time I mentioned chatting to a stranger you’d have cirrhosis of the liver by now) to a couple of ladies who had entered the competition. One of them kindly let me take a photo of her certificates.

There were lots of categories and over 1000 entries.

Some were presented in a very fancy way, some looked very unusual.

There were a large number of entries from Japan and a lot of Japanese people at the festival. In one section they had a table to taste some marmalade and I went for one of the more unusual ones.

There was even marmalade with chocolate in it.

Note that it’s from the Octogenarian category. When you live that long you probably figure what the heck.

There were rooms and rooms and rooms of marmalade. Also other rooms of fancy old stuff because this is an historic house.

I considered buying a jar of marmalade but then though no, that was stupid, I still have half the jar of marmalade Rowan made me and it’s not like I’ve suddenly become a connoisseur. also the ladies with the certificates said a good marmalade should be chunky and Rowan’s is very chunky (the chunks are called ‘weeds’ so weedy marmalade is good. Who knows, I might have a champion marmalade in my possession already!

I think I was most intrigued by the clear marmalade (although one lady insisted it should be called jelly instead) and maybe I’ll have a go at making that myself one day.

How can it win? It’s not even marmalade!

After a wander around I headed back, spotting a female pheasant in the field.

Back through the woods.

Back through the fields, the raspberries and over the wall. I did see something unusual in the field – yellow snails.

I took a few more photos in Stainton for Jess.

I had half an hour until the bus so I stopped in at the pub for a half of cider. The hotel was established in 1721!

I had a little chat about walking and travel with some other walkers and nearly missed the bus back! I had to run a couple of blocks and only just made it, much to the amusement of the driver.

When I got back to Keswick I stopped for lunch at the cafe again. Today it was curried butternut squash. Again, delicious.

While I ate I had a leaf through a book that was on the shelf next to me. It was about mail art – creating beautiful tiny artworks to send through the post. I found it quite inspiring, so I’m keeping all my tickets and bits of paper to make into something creative to send to someone at home.

Right now I’m back at West View, sitting in bed and contemplating where go for dinner. I’ve done almost nothing today (compared to other days) but I feel very tired. No harm in an early night! I’ve seen a fell I’d like to climb not too far away, so if the weather clears a bit tomorrow I’ll do that, otherwise I’ll get started on my mail art!

2 thoughts on “Dalemain Marmalade Festival

  1. Squeee! Thanks so much for visiting Stainton and for the photos. It’s definitely on my list for 2025! I love a good bench and that one has my name on it! I shall sit there one day! The marmalade with the star cut peel is adorable! So creative! If they’re allowed to have a jelly win, it really should have been called the citrus preserve festival. Semantics hey?

    • I knew posting about the clear marmalade would start trouble on Facebook;-).
      Regarding Stainton, there’s another one right near Oxenholme! Better work out precisely which one is correct… or just do a Stainton tour of England!

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