The Damson Day festival is yet another event we’ve kept missing, not helped by the fact that the last two years it’s been cancelled due to bad weather and the after-effects of the Storm Desmond flooding.
The festival is held at one of the historic farms in the Lyth (pronounced ‘lithe’) Valley just south of Bowness-on-Windermere, a lovely area famous for its damson orchards. I can remember my parents stopping off at the farm years ago for Mum to buy ten pounds of the fruit to make jam, and unlike many other local products, this one has not only survived but is now celebrated with the annual festival.
This year, it was back, and the weather was great, and we were determined to go. And it was lovely. Quite a small event but packed with entertainments, stalls, goodies damson-related and not, orchard walks, and a really nice, relaxed atmosphere.
We mooched around the various tents, marquees and stalls, had a coffee, listened to a local band (Jim Beans, surprisingly good), watching a hilarious dog agility display, tried one of the walks only to be beaten back by a vicious stile, mooched some more, had some delicious locally-made snacks for lunch, and even tried our hand at the archery. This was a first for both of us and something I’ve long wanted to try but been nervous about given my bad wrist. However, with some assistance and tuition I managed to hit the target with one out of my three arrows and felt quite proud of myself!
Pretty much the only thing the Damson Day didn’t have was… damsons, but they come later, in the autumn. This event is very much about celebrating their birth – the blossom, the pollination, the crop to come. It was a revelation. We came home in the afternoon sun-burned and armed with damson pork pies and damson beer, and determined to go again next year.