Cartmel looks forward the racing season and annual show

Thundering down Woodside straight at Cartmel Races

Thundering down Woodside straight at Cartmel Races - Credit: Milton Haworth

There are lots of reasons to visit one of Lakeland’s most popular villages this month. The show and the races are just two of them.

Little and Large at The Dog competition at Cartmel Show

Little and Large at The Dog competition at Cartmel Show - Credit: Milton Haworth

Cartmel is putting out the welcome mat for visitors this month. The village's racecourse, which is often described as the prettiest in Britain, hosts two of its most popular attractions at each end of August.

First out of the stalls is Cartmel Show, which was first held in 1872 and this year features 130 trade stands and craft exhibitors, 500 sheep entries, 140 horse competitors, and cattle, dogs, poultry and rabbit shows, the show continues to showcase the agricultural way of life.

And the 8,000 visitors are also entertained with traditional crafts including crook and walking stick making, Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling, circus workshops, face-painting, a bouncy castle and workshops in arts, crafts and even den-making.

Village industries, which highlight traditional skills from painting to sewing, have attracted more than 1,000 entries, two thirds of them from children.

A glorious day out can be had at Cartmel Races

A glorious day out can be had at Cartmel Races - Credit: Milton Haworth

'We get the local schools involved, even though it is holiday time,' says show secretary Sarah Dickinson. Appealing to the young is at the core of Cartmel Show, and is a clue to how it continues to thrive, even when county shows elsewhere are struggling to survive.

'We are very lucky to have a relatively young committee of members who are all so positive. It is very important that the show carries on.

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'Agriculture and the rural way of life are changing. We need to remind people where their food comes from.

'As families get further removed from the countryside and farming, then the industry has a responsibility to provide a platform to educate them,' says mum-of-two Sarah, the only paid official of the organising committee.

Polishing the trophies is Cartmel Show Secretary Sarah Dickinson

Polishing the trophies is Cartmel Show Secretary Sarah Dickinson - Credit: Milton Haworth

But she is quick to add that the show has other strengths.

'It is a community event. Agriculture can be a lonely business. We provide a place for neighbours to meet up and for surrounding parish areas to come and have a fun day out.

'It is always a really good atmosphere and as our patron - Lord Cavendish, who owns the racecourse - says, there is an undoubted magic about Cartmel.'

The food tent is a big feature with famed Cumbria and Lancashire providers of everything from gingerbread and chilli sauces to chocolate. Unsworth Yard Brewery from the heart of Cartmel village also has a stand. Another icon in the village, Cartmel Sticky Toffee pudding, has its own trade stand outside the food tent.

Groom Katie Stubbs leads the much-fancied Beeno in the Parade ring at Cartmel

Groom Katie Stubbs leads the much-fancied Beeno in the Parade ring at Cartmel - Credit: Milton Haworth

There is a waiting list for the craft marquee, where everything has to be hand-made by the person presenting. Typical is swill-basket maker Owen Jones from Nibthwaite.

Back by popular demand this year is Shetland Pony Grand National, which attracts entries from Aberdeen to Essex.

The children ride their tiny ponies over obstacles.

'It being a racecourse makes it even more fun for the participants and it was so popular last year we just had to invite them back,' Sarah adds.

New this year are workshops to show people how to show vegetables and flowers at horticultural events. 'Growing your own is coming back into fashion and we want to encourage people to have the confidence to have a go at showing,' says Sarah.

And also this year the show will be nurturing links with the village by holding a hanging basket competition. Businesses throughout the village will be encouraged to put on floral displays to be judged by the show officials. At the end of the month, Cartmel Races will be holding its more traditional meetings on Saturday August 24, and Monday August 26, two of their nine race days in the year. Again thousands of visitors will pour into the village, which has a normal population of fewer than 5,000.

The Saturday is Cartmel Cup Day when Cartmel-based trainer James Moffat is expected to attend and bid to win the Cartmel Trainers' Challenge again.

The Bank Holiday Monday is the last meeting of the year, with three Class 2 races attracting the top jockeys and horses. The highlight of the meeting is the Cavendish Cup.

With its peerless Priory, dating back 800 years, one of the best restaurants in Britain -Simon Rogan's L'Enclume - and numerous inns, Cartmel is sure to charm thousands of visitors over the school holidays and beyond.


Wednesday August 7: 136th Cartmel Show, Cartmel Racecourse

Wednesday August 21: Holker Hall evening tour of gardens, with head gardener Glyn Sherratt

Saturday August 24: Cartmel Cup Day, Cartmel Racecourse

Sunday August 25: Annual plant fair and food market, Holker Hall

Monday August 26: Cartmel Races, Cartmel Racecourse

Saturday and Sunday, September 7th and 8th: Chillifest, Holker Hall