PLANS are afoot to bring the legend of the Lake District's most famous and industrious moonshine smuggler back to life in the form of a new visitor experience.

The Lanty Slee Liquor Company was founded by local businessmen Joe Nichols and John Walmsley, with the aim of recreating the liquor that Lancelot 'Lanty' Slee (1802-1878) so famously and illicitly produced and distributed from his stills, hidden throughout the Langdales in various caves and hideaways.

The company has applied to the Lake District National Park Authority for a change of use for the Wayside Pulpit in Elterwater, to allow for the sale of food and alcohol.

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The pair, who live locally, plans to turn the empty building into a visitor centre, historic tasting experience and bar with a distinctly Victorian-era feel, and somewhere for not only tourists but the community, as Joe explained:

"Lanty Slee's story is fascinating - his ingenuity and the lengths he went to transport his produce by night over the fells on horse and cart to avoid the excisemen is staggering.

"He operated this for about 20 years before being apprehended by the excisemen following a tip-off on September 28, 1841. 

"Everything we've done, we've tried to give credibility to the history - we don't want it to be a gimmick, we want to do justice to what Lanty did.

"We want to have something that's as locally and honestly produced as it would've been when he was doing it, and we're in a building that he would have walked past, probably daily.

"All of our botanicals are locally foraged from the Lowther estate - we're using Victorian-era distilling-treacle, water filtered through slate from Moss Rigg Quarry, and our rum is made using honey and marmalade, as marmalade is the only way the victorians could have used oranges - they couldn't transport them fresh.

"Langdale has a history of being industrious and entrepreneurial - that's not just Lanty's story, that's all around the valley. 

In Cumbria: BEAUTY: Lanty Slee operated throughout the Langdale ValleyBEAUTY: Lanty Slee operated throughout the Langdale Valley

"Langdale is a truly beautiful area, the reason the Lake District got UNESCO World Heritage status."

Joe's business partner John Walmsley, who runs the Old Dungeon Ghyll in Great Langdale, said:

"Lanty may have stalked the fells in the dead of night, but we won't be a late night venue, we plan to open from 10am until 10pm.

"By morning we'll serve full English breakfasts cooked in skillet pans, but the rest of the food will be calamari, baked camembert, pigs in blankets, sharing plates that you can nibble all day. 

"We hope to be ready to open in August as a visitor centre, emphasizing the historic element in both the spirit production and the cocktail making sessions.

"The building would be available to the community free of charge for events, for example, whether it be a bridge club or something for the kids.

"We're very keen to help local families, to integrate this building into the community, and to celebrate Langdale and its rich history, through the story of Lanty Slee."