Cheese! I love my cheese indeed. And I do have a favourite, Wensleydale. Like I have stated previously my family tree comes to Yorkshire valley of Wensleydale in rather a large way and as children, my brother and I would be brought here in the area visiting old relatives. Maybe that is when I picked up the real taste for the local cheese? Nibbles given as a child. Of course, as many of you may know, it is not just a favourite of mine but also of Wallace, the cheese connoisseur himself from the Wallace and Gromit animations. I was back visiting the area again recently so took a step into Wensleydale Creamery.
Wensleydale cheese goes back to the 12th Century. A few French Cistercian Monks moved to the area and began to produce a sheep milk cheese from their recipe. Throughout the centuries it was modified by using cows milk and ewes milk. The monastery dissolved in the 1500s but the making of this local cheese was kept going by local farmers and their wives for the next few hundred years. Industry brought a larger dairy in the late 19th century, but, the depression of the 1930’s almost wiped out cheese manufacture in the valley. Along came a local businessman named Kit Calvert, who managed to rescue the one remaining dairy. Kit Calvert is now the name of a particular type of Wensleydale that is very popular indeed in itself.
Thanks to the great taste, tradition and some hard working businessmen we have today still the Wensleydale Creamery. In Hawes, in the heart of Wensleydale, Yorkshire. Open to all whom pass by it is a very popular stop for visitors from all around the world. For me I love Wensleydale cheese for the full rich creamy flavour and the crumbly, not too crumbly, yet moist texture.. yummy. When you buy your Wensleydale in the shops and supermarkets throughout the country it may have been made further afield in places like Lancashire or Cheshire using a generic type recipe. Wensleydale Creamery still hand-crafts it using local milk from local livestock, within Wensleydale itself. It has ‘protected food name status’ too, so if you want the real, authentic one, look for the seal or label stating ‘Yorkshire Wensleydale Cheese’.. no other dairy can say that.
Upon visiting the creamery you will find much to discover! The cheese shop is an area I love to linger. Don’t go there on a full stomach, and enjoy tasting some of the many types of Wensleydale on offer! The variety of types is astounding, from Original to Blue Wensleydale, from blended with cranberries to blended with Apricot. Ginger or pineapple are others that tickled my taste buds surprisingly….
I can spend ages in here myself grazing and tasting. I must admit it was hard taking the many photos I took to make this post, I had to endure more tasting.. no hardship 😉
The shop area is not all cheese, cheese and cheese. There is also a vast array of colourful chutneys, preserves, dressings and more to browse.
From the shop you can wander around the large gift shop, have a bite to eat in the restaurant or have a tea/coffee whilst looking out to the hills of the Yorshire Dales. But, there is also lots to see and learn. There is a museum that takes you back through the ages of tradition. Equipment of old going all the way back plus full recreations of an old farmhouse kitchen.
I know it wouldn’t be long before I saw some name that reminded me of my family tree. It was going to be either Metcalfe or Dinsdale for sure as that branch always leads to Hawes in my research 🙂
Just a few hundred metres down from the creamery is where a lot of my family tree leads too as well, the beautiful hamlet of Gayle.
There is also the opportunity to watch the skilled workers first hand hand- crafting the delicious cheese and the processes in action.
If ever in the Yorkshire Dales, it is not just case of hills, valleys, waterfalls etc. I would advise to take a trip to cheese delights and a wonderful cheese at that, in Wensleydale Creamery.