SURELY one of the best things about the onset of December is stocking up the Christmas larder?

It’s the time of year where our taste buds start to recall all our annual festive favourites.

Whether it’s sweet tangy chutneys laced with cranberries for cold meats and crackers, or seasonal ‘tipple treats’ like damson gin liqueur, the range of delicacies in Cumbria is genuinely endless.

Nowhere was this more evident than the ever-successful Holker Winter Market at the weekend with its blazing braziers and teeming food hall.

With festive breakfasts and winter walks in mind we picked up some fat, high-quality Cumberland Sausage and a 12-pack of chilli-flavoured bangers to give us a warm glow.

Another staple of our festive household is the Christmas Chutney from the Friendly Food And Drink Company in Staveley which also does a zingy ‘Chocolate and Chilli Curd,’ - delicious on toast on cold mornings with frost on the ground.

Over at the Dales Traditional Butchers in Kirkby Lonsdale, thoughts are turning to game. The rich dark meat makes for deeply-satisfying pies, stews and casseroles which help insulate us from winter’s chills. An 800g to 1kg pheasant will cost around £5.50, while mallards go for £4.78 for 6-700g.

Pigeons are £3.88 (350g) or you can try generous slabs of venison steaks for £28.98.

When the morning frosts start to appear, we usually have a run through to Hawskhead and The Honeypot in The Square. It’s a treasure trove for hard-to-find local specialities like the original plastic tub of Quiggins Cumberland Rum Butter (£2.50) or gooey Goose Fat for golden roast potatoes.

You can also bag the mouthwatering Cowmire Hall Damson Christmas Puddings either for the big day itself or as a stocking filler for a foodie lover.

The 120g version goes for £2.30 and the large for £6.99 (454g).

Low Sizergh Barn and Farm Shop is also on the radar for its countertop of creamy seasonal cheeses - with a memorably niffy Blacksticks Blue going down a treat last Christmas. The shop’s John Hosker also has the perfect remedy for boosting our battered year-end immune systems.

“I would recommend a new, seasonal flavour from Mr Fitzpatrick's Cordials,” says John.

“Mr Fitzpatrick's Cranberry and Pomegranate Cordial (£3.99, 500ml) is a blend of their finest cranberries, pomegrantes and rosehips which can be used in cocktails or simply diluted with still or sparkling water for a refreshing, non-alcoholic alternative.” Cheers!

Over at Greenbanks on Stricklandgate, seasonal Tunisian Dates are in at 59p a pack and Brussel Sprouts are going for 70p per lb if you want to ‘test drive’ them ahead of the big day.

Last year’s Christmas Turkey was sourced from Plumgarths and they’re doing white or bronze birds again - from Lancaster - and you can pick up a week before Christmas.

Also on offer this week is a big saving on local beef with 3lb mince coming in at £8.49 or 3lb of Stewing Steak for £9.99 - which Plumgarths say is the equivalent of a pound for free.

Christmas lines are also starting to come in at the award-winning Grange Bakery which reports that its Spelt Bread - much better for those with wheat intolerances - is going down a treat.

A white or brown loaf will cost £1.64 and sounds a yummy alternative.