Charles enjoys a Cumbrian tipple

Prince Charles pulls himself a pint of Windermere Pale Credit: PA Images

The Prince of Wales enjoyed a morning tipple today as he helped mark the 10th anniversary of a brewery.

The visit to Hawkshead Brewery was the start of a day-long tour of Cumbria.

He pulled a pint of Windermere Pale from behind the bar and gave the royal seal of approval to the aromatic beer as he remarked it was "hoppy" and "tasty".

The firm is among 40 located on a "green" business park in the South Lakeland village of Staveley.

Staveley Mill Yard was a former centre for the woollen industry and has used the nearby River Kent for water and power since the 1600s.

Hawskhead Brewery owners Alex and Anne Brodie set up their business in 2002 and now employ 19 full-time staff.

Mr Brodie said: "We are one of the new wave of independent brewers who have led the way in getting the public interested in proper beer.

"Our head brewer is only 32-years-old. It's no longer an old man's game."

He chatted with other business owners and also toured More? The Artisan Bakery run by local couple Patrick and Louise Moore.

Mr Moore moved to the premises three years ago after previously setting up in his home.

All produce is made on site with a proud Mr Moore saying he was delighted to be able to provide fresh daily bread to villagers.

Speaking of the tour, he said: "It was an absolute pleasure to share our passion with him. He was very knowledgeable.

"What he saw was a real bread bakery producing real bread for real people.

"I think he was impressed with our sample of Lakeland treacle bread with walnuts and raisins."

Prince Charles is shown the produce by baker Patrick Moore Credit: PA Images

Crowds braved the rain to give Charles a warm welcome at the park - in the centre of the village.

Among the well-wishers were children from Staveley Primary School who handed him a gift of a history book which marked 250 years of the school.

Charles went on to Wigton as part of the North Cumbrian town's 750th anniversary of its market charter.

Hundreds lined High Street wrapped up against the chilly temperatures, waving Union Jack flags.

Rain began to fall before the Prince's eagerly-awaited arrival and then snow.

The wintry weather did not deter Charles though who happily posed for photographs and shook many hands along the street.

On the way he dropped into Wigton Youth Station - a group for youngsters aged 11 to 19 who meet on weeknights.

Next he moved on to the historic St Mary's Church, built in 1788.

Wigton-born broadcaster Lord Melvyn Bragg was present to show Charles the three stained glass windows he donated in thanksgiving to the church in 2009.

The Bragg Family Windows reflect his family's involvement with the church through the years and depict the building and the surrounding town.

Lord Bragg of Wigton - a former choirboy - said: "I think he (Charles) was impressed and he also liked the idea that I was a choirboy, but that's another matter."

A short walk followed to the recently refurbished Market Hall which was built in 1882.

It received £735,000 of Big Lottery funding three years ago.

Charles met stallholders on the regular Tuesday market and took a shine to the wares of Speciality Honey.

Owner Joe Bell, from Keswick, said: "He's a beekeeper isn't he so he seemed to have a natural interest.

"We sell Cumbrian honey collected from local beekeepers and he seemed particularly keen on our different flavours. We have cappuccino, dandelion and burdock."

He rounded off his stay in town by officially starting work on Wigton's commemorative Market Cross, due to be completed this September.

Carpenter Charlie Miles put him through his paces to cut the first chisel cut in the bark. Charles had to be reminded though to don safety goggles before chipping away.

An onlooker shouted out: "You had better put them on first!"

The Prince of Wales jokingly replied: "Are you the health and safety? They get everywhere."

After chopping away with a small axe, he quipped: "We are getting the chip off the old block here."

Another onlooker asked Mr Miles: "What's his score out of 10?"

Charles replied: "There's nothing like a spectator."

Mr Miles said: "The thing is in Wigton sir, that is known as barracking."

The Prince continued cutting and queried whether he would "bash his hand".

Mr Miles said: "I will get in lots of trouble if you do sir!"

Charles said: "I hope it goes well. I hope it doesn't crack. I look forward to seeing it."