Cracking Cheese, Gromit – Wensleydale Adventures

Our visit to Yorkshire was slightly hampered by the rainfall, which seemed quite monumental during the May Bank Holiday weekend. For further evidence see our picture taken at Hardraw! Because it was too wet to visit some of the outdoor places we wanted to, I had to come up with alternatives to pass the time. The lovely landlady in the Green Dragon Inn suggested we visited the Dales Countryside Museum, located not far away in Hawes. Entry was £4.50 per adult, and free for under 16’s. We received £1 discount off admission as we’d parked in the car park adjacent.
There were lots of interesting collections to look around, and I’m sure young children will find the train great fun! They have activities to keep them amused during a visit, although as grown-ups we weren’t so bothered by them. The aim of the museum is to educate on what life was like in the Dales, predominantly in relation to farming and industrialisation. Hearing some of the local stories makes you appreciate how fortunate we are with the links we now have to rural areas and the wonders of modern medicine.
The other suggestion made was the Ropemakers, which is situated opposite the museum. Unfortunately it is closed on a Sunday, so we didn’t get the opportunity to try it out on your behalf!
By this point we were starving, so made our way to the Wensleydale Creamery, which is approximately 15 minutes walk from the car park. With children it might be worth driving through the village to reach the factory, which has parking on site. The idea of cheese samples was too good to pass up, although there was a bit of a queue to get in. There is no charge to visit the shop, and it is a cheese lovers’ dream! They have trays of cheese to try, which you systematically work round. There are craft beers, chutneys and jams, biscuits and other items to purchase while in the deli. We bought quite a few blocks to take away, and I even ate Stilton, which I don’t normally like. We found a bottle of Monty Python beer while there, which I had to get for Raf.
We paid £2.50 each to watch a cheese making demonstration, in which a jovial Yorkshireman talked through how Wensleydale is made. This was really quite informative; especially as I hadn’t realised whey protein was used in making cosmetics. It takes a gallon of milk to create a pound of cheese, so it’s good that the whey has other uses. He explained why some cheeses aren’t suitable for Vegetarians because of the rennet used, and we discovered why Wensleydale was the cheese of choice for Wallace!
We’d built up a hunger again after all the cheese samples and visited the 1897 Coffee Shop. The Pork Pie Deli platter sounded delicious, so we got this to share alongside a Cheese Scone. The Pork Pie was one of the best I’ve ever eaten, with just the right balance of crust, meat and jelly. It came with a dressed salad, boiled egg and Piccalili, which I left for Raf to eat. Along with a hot drink for us both this cost £13, so a great value light lunch for us.
There isn’t a huge amount to keep the kids amused at the Creamery in terms of exhibits. They are working on this, and the plan is to have viewing galleries in the new factory for visitors to watch cheese production. If your children love Wallace and Gromit there is a special section dedicated to these Plastercine creations in the museum. This might keep them occupied for a little bit!
By this point the rain had abated, so we took the opportunity to wander back into Hawes. Upon walking past a church we spied a Craft Fair sign, so had a look round at the local artists’ work. One stall which caught my eye was Elisabeth Bailey’s, which featured handmade pottery. I especially loved her animal pieces, and purchased a rabbit to add to my collection of knick knacks. It was great to watch her work as she sat in the church hall, fashioning the clay into adorable guinea pigs. One of the highlights of my day, and completely spontaneous.
The town is full of antique shops and art galleries, so when we spotted the facade of The Old Sweet Shop we had to call in. We bought some great chocolates, but unfortunately they didn’t last long before we scoffed them!
We had a great impromptu visit to Hawes and I’m pleased we found plenty to do to pass the rainy day. There is a lovely play area for the kids not far from the Dales Museum, should you visit on a day better than we did. The village itself is pretty, and the locals are so welcoming. One of the best compliments I could give as a Geordie is that I found them *almost* as friendly as my brethren!
Thanks for reading,
Pip x
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