Dairy cows grazing in the Eden Valley will be supplying milk for a renowned Cumbrian family business.

The Westmorland family, who own and operate Tebay Services on the M6, have partnered with a Plumpton dairy farm to find a single source of farm assured milk.

The Harringtons, of Mounsey Bank Farm, will be producing the milk for the services, Tebay Services Hotel at junction 38, and the Rheged Centre near Penrith.

Eighty-six dairy farms went out of business in Cumbria alone last year and many small scale upland dairy farms are still at risk of closure.

Known for working closely with local producers, the Westmorland family started out as farmers, and now stock produce from more than 130 local suppliers in their northern businesses.

Westmorland Services head of kitchen offer Mary Houston said: “We’ve long wanted to work directly with a single family farm to source our milk, as we’re aware of the impact which secure contracts have on a farm’s future.

“Working with a local farm and a local dairy is a great way for the Westmorland family to do our bit to maintain the sustainability of Cumbrian dairy farms.

“Farming is a challenge during the best of times and having a stable and reliable local market for milk is crucial for farmers,” said Mary.

The 130 head herd of Holstein Friesians at Mounsey Bank Farm qualifies for free range status, grazing on outdoor pastures from May until October.

The Harrington family have farmed at Mounsey Bank for three generations and their milk, with a high butterfat percentage, is perfect, says Mary, for teas, coffees and baking in their cafes.

A first for the farm will see them producing a new bottled milk which will be available in Westmorland’s farm shops. Westmorland are working with local processor, North Lakes Dairy, to process the local milk.

Farmer Phil Harrington said: “Working with the Westmorland family is all about the future for us.

“Dairy farmers across the UK face volatile dairy markets and this collaboration means real security for our farm.

“It will help us to invest in our farm, our cows and our future. Our business gels fantastically with Westmorland, and we are delighted they are committing to support us.

“We would also like to thank our longstanding dairy, North Lakes Dairy, who helped us to make this happen.”