The Yorkshire Dales Cheese Festival returns this September with double the number of events and activities following the success of last year’s inaugural event. Today’s burgeoning cheese scene across the Dales is thanks in part to the Cistercian monks who brought their fromage-making skills over from Normandy when they settled at abbeys such as Jervaulx and Fountains back in the 11th century, and started making Wensleydale cheese.
One of the new events in this year’s Festival which runs from September 15-23 will put a cheesy slant on the War of the Roses by holding a week-long tasting competition pitting fromage from Yorkshire against Lancashire-produced cheeses.
The Bolton Arms at Redmire near Leyburn will be asking guests to taste cheeses from each county and then vote for their favourite.
Other plans are also well underway with more than 50 events lined-up that will enable visitors to satisfy their cheese cravings while savouring some of the best beauty spots in the National Park and Nidderdale’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and learning more about the cheese heritage.
While Yorkshire-produced cheese will take top billing, the vast array of locally-produced food will also be celebrated as restaurants, cafés, shops, visitor attractions and dairy specialists hold everything from talks, demonstrations and savoury afternoon teas through to six-course gourmet tasting menus.
Wensleydale Creamery at Hawes, home of Wallace and Grommit’s favourite cheese, will set the celebrations rolling with its two-day mini Cheese Festival on the 15 and 16 September comprising 35 stalls of local produce and all-things-cheese as well as cookery demonstrations, tastings and pairings, butter making and live music.
Radiating out from this hub visitors can then spend time over the coming days enjoying the delights of cheese while taking in the scenic landscape at 20 spots, stretching from Sedbergh and Bolton Castle on the northern edge of the Yorkshire Dales through to Pateley Bridge and Masham in Nidderdale.
Events include daily cheese tasting sessions at The Churchmouse deli and bistro in Barbon near Kirkby Lonsdale; guided walks from Hawes and Askrigg that include drop-ins to dairy farms along the way; a talk and cheese making demonstration at the Courtyard Dairy near Settle where they are working with local farmers to revive traditional techniques; and a cycle ride through the heart of Wensleydale.
Then on the 22 September to close the whole food celebration there will be a new Beer and Beef Festival at Springhill Farm, Jervaulx near Masham featuring locally-reared Dexter beef and locally-produced ales with an eclectic mix of live music and entertainment.
More information on the Yorkshire Dales Cheese Festival
Programme details will be available on www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/cheese-festival
Mark Bibby Jackson
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