I am the Tourism Support Officer for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and have been with the National Park for five years. I began my career as a Communications Apprentice in 2017 before joining the Tourism team in 2019, and I am a member of the Authority Youth Forum. There’s nothing I enjoy more than a good leisurely walk in some of the most beautiful landscapes the country has to offer, being out in the countryside and enjoying nature and the changing seasons – it really lifts my spirits!
As part of my role, I particularly enjoy being involved in the promotion of our Dark Skies Festival, and of course, Yorkshire Dales Cheese Festival – which, as my article hopefully demonstrates, epitomises and encapsulates the spirit of the Dales communities and its landscape, and why it’s so special.
Dales and moorland, pastures and meadows, waterfalls and becks, field barns and miles of drystone walls. With a varied landscape like this, the Yorkshire Dales provide the perfect partnership for food and drink producers – producers who care about the special qualities of the landscape.
The Yorkshire Dales National Park has just held its fifth annual Yorkshire Dales Cheese Festival. It’s an event which showcases the thriving food and drink community and rich farming heritage in the Dales and offers local food producers the chance to share their produce and stories.
The weekend long event, hosted by local businesses, featured everything from cheese to homemade ice-cream to Yorkshire pudding wraps and pizza! And as well as enjoying the stunning Yorkshire Dales backdrop and learning more about the area, visitors were able to feast on some great tasting local produce.
But it is so much more than just produce, it is food and drink which helps establish a meaningful relationship with the land. Here in the Dales, people and culture are inspiring artisans to create a diverse range of local goods… and cheese is no exception. The generational, traditional farming methods which have shaped the Dales are the key element which gives Dales cheeses their unique flavour.
We are fortunate, and proud, to have some great businesses in the Dales who adopt the same ethos of local stewardship and champion the best of independent cheesemakers, micro-dairies and farmhouse cheeses.
These artisan businesses capture the identity and sense of place of the Dales. Most of the cheeses produced are unpasteurised, and each small batch can have subtle differences because of its local, hand-crafted nature. This produces flavours you can’t get anywhere else, and not usually something you can just pick up at a supermarket, unless of course it’s a truckle of Wensleydale – the cheese made famous by Wallace & Gromit – which is produced in Hawes by the Wensleydale Creamery.
Locally produced food and drink is increasingly available through farm shops, delicatessens, farmers’ markets, and food festivals. Restaurants, hotels, B&Bs, tearooms and tourist attractions increasingly use locally sourced ingredients in their menus, and why would you go anywhere else when you have access to something so individual on your doorstep.
Buying local anywhere in the country not only allows you to try a unique product, but means you are contributing to the local economy and helping to conserve our precious living, working landscapes.
The Yorkshire Dales Cheese Festival might be over for this year, but you can still visit some of our brilliant food and drink producers, and those restaurants, pubs, cafes and shops right across the Yorkshire Dales National Park who are championing them. Download the Cheese Festival map and begin your journey!