Over the weekend I spent a couple of wonderful hours at the home of the famous Yorkshire delicacy, Wensleydale cheese.
The Wensleydale Creamery sits in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales town of Hawes (in Wensleydale in case you were wondering). The creamery is more than just a cheese factory though, and the newly rebuilt visitor centre draws in tourists from all over the World, no doubt very much prompted by the success of Nick Park’s cheese loving creation, Wallace.
Visitors can take a tour of the creamery, where you get a history of how this famous cheese came into existence and also watch the experts making the stuff behind glass windows – like a cheesy aquarium.
The best part of the experience for me though is the cheese shop. Once you’ve battled your way through the avalanches of overpriced Wallace and Gromit merchandise (£59.99 for a small model of their moon rocket – ouch!), you stumble upon an oasis of cheese – a refrigerated room containing the full selection of Wensleydale Creamery’s excellent dairy products.
The best part of this area is the opportunity to taste the produce. Working your way around the U shaped room, you can sample some rather generous chunks of many of their cheeses, including smoked Wensleydale, Wensleydale and ginger, Wensleydale and pineapple, Wensleydale and apricot, and my personal favourite, Wensleydale with onion and chive. I’m sure you’re not supposed to, but I imagine you could easily graze in here for a while and not need any lunch.
It’s actually impossible to leave without buying some of these delicious cheeses to stuff your face with at home – well it was for me anyway. I could easily spend a fortune in here and end up hideously fat after eating blocks of cheese for each meal for a month.
We topped all this off with a lovely meal in the Creamery restaurant, Calvert’s. As you might imagine, the menu was quite heavily cheese based. After the cheese marathon we’d just enjoyed in the cheese room, we didn’t have room for a starter, but the gammon steak topped with melted Wensleydale and grilled tomatoes was superb. Washed down with a pint of Black Sheep ale, I couldn’t have been happier.
All in all, this was a grand day out, a cracking trip, but after all that cheese I think I might now be wearing the wrong trousers….