Set out on a grand food and drink tour around Britain, stopping at local producers that are open to visitors.

Laverstoke Park Farm, Hampshire
Traditionally, mozzarella, that bouncy, grassy-fresh ball of a cheese, is made with the milk of the water buffalo in the Campania region of Southern Italy. But there’s no need to go that far – instead, try the 2,500 acres of biodynamic farmland at Laverstoke Park Farm in deepest Hampshire, where you will find the biggest herd of water buffalo in the UK. The buffalo seem very much at home in the lush green meadows of southern England and produce plenty of milk for Laverstoke’s acclaimed mozzarella, which is made with the advice and guidance of specialists from Italy. And any buffalo milk that doesn’t go into cheesemaking goes into Laverstoke’s brilliant ice creams. There’s rather more to Laverstoke Farm than that, such as rare pigs and rarer cattle, chicken and beer, but the water buffalo and their mozzarella are good places to start when visiting.

Tregothnan Estate, Cornwall
It may seem odd for a country that drinks so much of the stuff, but there’s actually only one tea estate in Britain. It’s in the warm, wet county of Cornwall, where the climate is not that dissimilar from the classic tea-growing areas of Sri Lanka and India. Since 2000, tea has been grown in the Tregothnan Estate near Truro, which has belonged to the Boscawen family since 1335. There are over 30 Assam and Chinese varieties (as well as a wide range of herbal teas), and tea production follows the time-honoured system of hand plucking the bushes. Then the leaves are rolled to bruise them, chopped, oxidised and slow-dried before being blended into Classic Tea, Afternoon Tea, Earl Grey and Green Tea. You can visit the tea gardens or sign up for one of the twice-yearly Tea Tasting Masterclasses.

Sparkling wine
Camel Valley, Cornwall
There was a time when British wine was scoffed at. No longer. British wine, and in particular British sparkling wine, regularly picks up awards in international competitions. And no British sparkling wine sparkles more than that of the Camel Valley vineyard, first planted by Bob Lindo and his wife Annie in 1989. Now their son Sam has taken over, and has carried on the award winning tradition of his parents, including the Trophy and a Gold Medal in the International Wine Challenge for Camel Valley Bacchus in 2009. If you want to explore the technical side of Camel Valley wine making, there are tours of the vineyards and winery, but some might just prefer to sip a glass of the superlative, world-beating English sparkling wine as they look out over the delightful Camel Valley.

Wotton Farm Shop, Gloucestershire
The sun’s on your back. You’re slightly bent over, using one hand to part the leaves of the raspberry cane. You spot another perfect fruit, shaped like a thimble made of tiny, deep red balloons. Gently you pull it from its stalk and drop it into the basket at your feet, and then move on to the next set of canes. There’s nothing quite like picking your own fruit on a warm summer’s day and there’s plenty to pick at the Wotton Farm Shop on the edge of the Severn escarpment in south Gloucestershire. They grow raspberries, strawberries, redcurrants, gooseberries, blueberries and tayberries, as well as broad beans. It’s run by the Grimes family, and is a member of the Big G group of Gloucestershire Farm Shops, a collective of growers and artisan producers. The shop also has a deli and butchery.

Apple Juice, cider and perry
Day’s Cottage, Gloucestershire
Ashmead’s Kernel, Berkley Pippin, and Transparent Codlin: there’s a kind of poetry about the names of apples, whether for eating or cooking – or as with Foxwhelp, Hagloe Crab and Upright French, for turning into cider. And you’ll find them growing in the orchards of Dave Kaspar and Helen Brent-Smith, the two-person workforce behind Day’s Cottage. You can buy the cider, perry and bottles of apple juice, each graded by sweetness and frequently with the names of the particular apples making the juice, in Stroud and Bristol markets, or visit the cheerfully ramshackle Day’s Cottage and its orchard on a quiet back lane leading out of the village of Brookethorpe. Dave and Helen also run various courses on fruit tree management.

Madgett’s Farm, Gloucestershire
Madgett’s Farm has been there, in the rolling, wooded landscape where England meets Wales, for a very, very long time – it’s even mentioned in the Doomsday Book. Daryn and Elaine Williams have only been raising poultry there since 2001, but they have won a reputation for the quality of their chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys. This may be because they’re all allowed to wander over the surrounding pasture for grubs and grit, and they grow at their own pace, with no growth promoters to hurry them unnaturally along to an optimum weight. The result? The birds have proper texture and a deep rich flavour, as you can judge yourself by visiting the farm, buying one and taking it home to cook and eat.

Llanover Skirrid Honey Farm, Monmouthshire
There’s a season for honey. It lasts, according to Les and Jill Chirnside of the Llanover Skirrid Honey Farm near Abergavenny (01873 880625), from about March until the end of October, or even into November. During this period, it’s all go for beekeepers, keeping an eye on the even busier bees, making sure they’re in good health, collecting the results of their labours, removing the honey from the combs and getting it into jars. And all that’s before you can start selling it. Les and Jill are happy to talk honey with anybody – the do’s, the don’ts, the how-to-get-started, the what-to-look-out-for. Just call first to make sure they’re not out tending to their bees.

Caerphilly cheese
Trethowan’s Dairy, Gorwydd Farm, Ceredigion
It’s a family business, making Gorwydd Caerphilly (pronounced Gor-with), with its stone-coloured rind, its inside the colour of primroses and its fresh, creamy flavour with a distinct lemony tang at the end of it. The same Gorwydd Caerphilly that has won a hatful of awards, including 2001 Best Welsh Cheese (World Cheese Awards). It was first made by Todd Trethowan on Gorwydd, the family farm in Ceredigion, an exquisite region of woods and streams and steep-sided hills. Now Maugan Trethowan is in charge of the cheesemaking, with his wife, Kim, taking care of the ageing process – the cheese is matured on the farm for two months. They also run a cheese school in collaboration with food writer Fiona Beckett, to teach the finer points of artisan cheese appreciation.

Bacheldre Watermill, Montgomery
Speed and heat are the great enemies of the goodness in flour, and nothing grinds slower or cooler than a water-driven mill. To be strictly truthful, the mill at Bacheldre, a small, stocky, old-fashioned building of grey stone with a little, whitepainted brick addition to one side, doesn’t work on water all the time. There’s enough in the millpond to drive the mill wheel that drives the French burr mill stones for about 40 minutes. After that, an electrical motor takes over and that drives the mill stones at precisely the same speed as the water. It’s this go-slow approach to milling that has made Matt Scott’s Bacheldre flours the choice of a slew of first-division chefs and bakers, as well as the Ludlow Food Centre, where Anna, the master baker, uses them for her cakes and breads. Bacheldre Mill and its shop are open for visits on weekdays.

Rhug Estate organic farm, Denbighshire
There are 12,500 acres of the Rhug Estate, stretching from Gwyddelwern in the north, Carrog to the east, Cynwyd to the south and Maerdy to the west. The core of the estate is a 2,500-acre organic farm – one of the largest in Wales – around Rûg Mansion. Here, Lord Newborough has built up a herd of glorious Aberdeen Angus cattle. These are reared on a coastal farm near Caernafon and then moved to the lusher inland pastures of Rhug, where they can mature. There are organic lambs, pigs and chickens as well. Should you wish to look for more than animal husbandry, there’s also fishing, rally car driving, gorge walking, survival training, mountain biking, go-karting and canoeing to try your hand at.

Sillfield Farm, Cumbria
There are pigs galore at Sillfield Farm, in a handsome part of the Lake District. They’re special pigs, too – Gloucester Old Spot, saddleback, Middle White, Tamworth and wild boar – all old breeds with particular, delicious qualities. You can see the pigs ranging free in the farm’s 72 acres of fields and woodlands near Kendal in the Lake District. In the end, they all go into a range of porky products made on the farm, under the watchful eye of Peter Gott, a true food hero, who can count Prince Charles and Jamie Oliver among his admirers. Peter Gott is a stickler for doing things properly, and the Sillfield Farm pies – chicken and ham, Huntsman (pork, chicken and stuffing) and wild boar – are no exceptions.

Moore’s Traditional Curers, Isle of Man
“A red herring,” wrote Thomas Nashe in the 16th century, “is wholesome on a frosty morning.” Or any morning, some might say. Moore’s Traditional Curers wasn’t running in Nashe’s day, but they have been splitting, gutting, salting and smoking herrings on the Isle of Man in time-honoured fashion since 1884. Manx kippers tend to be smaller than those of the east coast, with a characteristic grey-brown top side and a silver belly dusted with gold. The flavour is delicate and mellow, with a touch more smoke than salt. The days have gone when 150 people worked in Moore’s factory, producing several tonnes of kippers a day. However, it’s still a family business, and they’re proud to show off the production process in kippering season, which runs from May through to September.

The Toffee Shop, Cumbria
It’s called The Toffee Shop, but it’s actually more famous for its fudge. There is toffee, too, but it’s the fudge, which has been made to the same recipe for over 100 years, that people will travels miles to buy. It’s a modest, bright establishment on a street that slopes down a hill into Penrith. There’s not much on display in the windows, or even in the shop itself, just slabs of fantastic fudge wrapped in opaque greaseproof paper and heaps of toffee. Each odd-shaped piece of toffee is wrapped in a little twist of paper, and there’s a plate of fudge on the counter ready-cut to help yourself to. And then there’s the smell. There’s something about the aroma of fudge being made – that warm and soothing, comforting compound of warm molten sugar and butter that encourages you to say, ‘I’ll have two – actually, make that three – slabs, please. Oh, and a pound of toffee, too.’

Soft cheese
Loch Arthur Community, Dumfries
The Loch Arthur Community is remarkable by any standards. It’s set among the green, rolling hills of Dumfrieshire, for a start. The farm is run to strict biodynamic principles, which brings an extraordinary vitality and health to the pasture and woodland. And it’s part of a number of communities in which people with learning disabilities live with families and share their lives and work, which, in this case, includes cheesemaking. Among Loch Arthur’s cheeses are Crannog, a soft cheese, and Criffel, a semi-soft rind-washed cheese, both of which have won multiple awards. Visit not only to try them yourself but to see the farm, large garden, creamery, bakery, woodwork studio, weaving workshop and thriving farm shop.

Kinloch Smokehouse, Sutherland
You’ll find Kinloch Lodge (01847 611316), where Hugh Montgomery practises his craft, on the northernmost edge of Scotland, off one of the narrowest, windiest roads you’ll ever drive along. Hugh passionately labours over his sides of salmon (wild salmon caught locally or farmed from Loch Duart) with exacting attention to detail. Proper smoking is not something you can hurry. There’s a rhythm to it. It requires fine judgement, as it can depend on the weather and the wind, and it can take anything between one and three days. It’s not just salmon that Hugh smokes, it’s anything that once moved in the rivers or on the land about – trout, venison, mackerel, duck, pheasants – and he also does a range of sausages and haggis, all of which you can buy on-site. Pay Hugh a visit to see how it’s done, though as Kinloch Lodge isn’t easy to find, it’s a good idea to phone ahead to make sure he’s expecting you.

The School of Artisan Food, Nottinghamshire
So you want to learn about making sausages? Or how to cure a ham or prepare any charcuterie? Then make the trip to Wellbeck, a kind of forgotten fairyland, that was once the playground of the dukes of Portland, just outside Sheffield. Sausage-making is one of the skills taught at the School for Artisan Food, housed in a block of renovated 19th-century stables. There’s a working bakery and a dairy, as well as the butchery section, and a micro-brewery is about to open. The ultra-keen can take year-long courses at a cost of £14,000, with an advanced diploma in each of the areas at the end of it. Or there are one-day and two-day courses which won’t set you back nearly so much. You can also just look round for free.

The National Brewery Centre, Staffordshire
Burton upon Trent has been the capital city of British brewing ever since the unique properties of the water there were discovered to be ideal for the brewing of ales. Traditional ales such as Worthington White Shield, Worthington E, Imperial Stout and Barley Wine are still brewed there in a classic arrangement of copper mashing tuns and fermenting vessels in The National Brewery Centre, a museum and visitor’s centre. The museum sits alongside the gleaming, sprawling mass of the Molson Coors brewery. You can tour The National Brewery Centre to see how beer is made or attend one of the regular tasting events, and then order a pint of your choice in The Brewery Tap bar.

Adnams Brewery, Suffolk
An elegant seaside town in Suffolk might not be the first place you’d think of looking for a spirit distillery, but there it is in Southwold. Adnams Copper House, all glittering and brand-spanking new, was formed out of old brewing coppers, made redundant when the Adnams brewery was recently renovated. Adnams have been brewing their award-winning beers at Southwold since 1872, and have always been noted for the craftsmanship of their ales. The same care is now being brought to bear on their gins and vodkas, all of which are made, as far as possible, with locally grown raw materials. There are tours of the distillery for the over-18s and the £10 admission entitles you to a discount on bottles sold in the Adnams shop nearby.

West Whelks, Kent
Whelks are the Marmite of the shellfish world. You either love them or hate them, although it has to be said that most people belong to the second group. But for the West family of Whitstable, they (along with oysters and other shellfish) have been the stuff of business for five generations. Whitstable may be more famous for its oysters than its whelks, but there are still enough lovers of this chunky marine snail to keep the Wests at work in pretty tar-black clapperboard buildings at one end of picturesque Whitstable Harbour. Here they unload the whelks from the whelk pots, grade them, and then boil them for 20 minutes. After that, they are plucked out of their shells and are ready to eat. At weekends the West family demonstrate the fine art of unpicking a whelk and shucking an oyster at their stall on the harbourfront.

Wild food
Various locations, Sussex
Nick Weston is a chap who likes to live on the wild side. It came about as a result of growing up as a self-confessed ‘feral child’ in Ashdown Forest, East Sussex. A hobby became a passion, and that passion became a profession. He was the survival expert on Channel 4’s Shipwrecked series, but now he shows other people how it's done, not just the which-berry-can-I-eat-without- poisoning-myself part, but the full range of shooting, fishing, preparing and cooking as well. Between April and October, he conducts one-day and two-day courses that cover whatever food is free, wild and in season, how to find it, deal with it and how best to serve it up. Courses finish with a meal made from the ingredients sourced that day (courses from £150).

Matthew Fort is a judge on BBC Two’s Great British Menu series. He regularly contributes food stories to the Guardian and has a blog (

The article 'Twenty tastes of Britain' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Magazine.