You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten Wensleydale Cheese. Seriously. I love cheese, but this cheese is just a step above the rest and the great news is: you can take a tour of the Wensleydale Cheese Factory in Hawes, North Yorkshire. All good things are in the UK, aren’t they?
You’re probably thinking why would I want to take a tour of a cheese factory in the UK? Ahem. Let me enlighten you because the Wensleydale Creamery tour is probably one of the coolest things ever and the Wensleydale Cheese Experience is the perfect way to combine a love of cheese with a learning experience and fun day out.
The Wensleydale Cheese Experience Details
How much does it cost?
The best news is the Wensleydale Cheese Experience is so affordable. It’s just £2.95 for an adult and £1.95 for a child so there’s really no excuse to just go and do it. That’s really chump change. Heck, I lose that kind of money in the couch.
How do I get to Hawes?
Getting to the Wensleydale Creamery is very easy if you plan to drive, but not so much if you want to take public transit. If you’re driving, there’s free parking at the cheese factory and it’s very close to the center of Hawes as well. However, if you’re planning on taking the train, the nearest station is Garsdale Railway Station, and it’s approximately 6 miles away from Hawes.
There is a bus that runs from Hawes to Garsdale Railway Station, the 113 bus. It’s not the easiest way to get around, for sure, but at least it’s pretty scenery and it is possible!
What’s so special about Wensleydale Cheese?
Well, I guess there’s nothing about Wensleydale Cheese that makes it remarkable. It’s not like infused with gold or anything (if only). Wensleydale Cheese began in the 14th century by some monks at a monastery who made cheese from sheep’s milk. Basically it’s been around ever since, which is a pretty long history for a type of cheese. The Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes has been around for more than 100 years and they still make the cheese by hand there.
I love cheese and I’m not super picky when it comes to cheese but this is my absolute favorite. If I have the option of eating Wensleydale Cheese then you bet your butt I’m devouring that sucker with a boatload of crackers (and yoga pants).
Where can I buy Wensleydale Cheese in the US?
So it’s made in North Yorkshire, United Kingdom… how do we Americans get our hands on this goodness? You can actually buy Wensleydale Cheese in the USA in a few different places, but it’s not going to be as easy to pick up as a block of Parmesan.
My local Whole Foods sells it (though admittedly not all kinds, usually just cranberry). You can also buy it from select local British food stores or from online sources like IGourmet and Amazon (seriously – they sell everything).
Unfortunately, you’ll be paying more for this cheese than if you lived in the UK simply because it needs to be imported. But the important thing is that you can get it.
Have I convinced you this is the best cheese yet? I hope so! So without further ado, here are 5 reasons you should absolutely tour the Wensleydale Cheese Factory in Hawes.
1. Free Cheese
Yes, you read that right. Even if you don’t take the Wendsleydale Cheese Experience, you still get to go into the sample room and try all of the cheeses.
I have been known to go back once… or twice. Sorry. (But not really.)
My personal favorite is Abbott’s Gold, which is the one with caramelized onions in it. Other people don’t agree with me, but if you want to live on the edge than this cheese is for you.
Maybe you don’t like onions and that’s cool. Do you like beer? Because if you do, there’s one with ale in it. Seriously. What about cranberries? Ginger? Apricots? Mulled wine? Honestly, your options are endless.
2. Do You Actually Know How Cheese is Made?
Well, okay then smarty pants, but not all of us know it, okay? It’s actually really cool to see how cheese is made from start to finish (especially if you’re a city girl like me who once asked why there were so many rocks in a field only to be told they were sheep… I know the difference, I promise).
The best part is that the ‘experience’ is interactive so you get to watch videos, play with stuff, answer posed questions and then watch a cheese making demonstration.
You won’t ever find me milking a goat or a cow, but it’s kind of fun to see how it’s done.
If you’ve got kids then this is the perfect afternoon out and if you’re just going as you – we’re all kids at heart, really, aren’t we? Take quizzes, color in pictures, drive the children’s milk tanker. It’s tons of fun to learn about this process and when learning is fun, we’re all happier.
3. The Gift Shop
Laugh all you want, but this gift shop is one of the best I’ve ever been in and things aren’t even that overpriced. Well, maybe a little, but I also have no self control. Buy adorable sheep-themed cheese plates, Shaun the Sheep mugs, stuffed animals, cookery, greeting cards, tea-flavored gin, spoon rests, more mugs, more plates, more tea towels, seriously. Everything.
Is any of this practical to buy in a gift shop? Not really, it never is, but the quality is pretty good and the things are actually super cute. And your entry was really cheap so you can just about justify the higher price tag.
4. Buy Your Cheese from the Source
Something just feels better about buying your cheese where it’s made. Does it really make any difference? I don’t think so, but it’s pretty cool to be able to say, ‘I bought this cheese from the creamery itself. It’s fresh, it’s delicious and way better than store-bought.’
Plus, this is the one place where you’re going to find the widest variety available in one place. Most grocery stores don’t carry every kind in every size, so buying it directly from the Wensleydale Creamery means you’ve got way more options (to spend more money).
5. Wallace and Gromit
Wallace and Gromit is a staple to many childhood memories, regardless of age, and you’ll find them all throughout the Wensleydale Cheese Experience.
In case you don’t know, despite the amazing texture and taste of Wensleydale cheese, it fell in popularity in the 90s and sales were beginning to dip and it was in danger of going out of business. Horrifying, I know. Wallace (a cheese connoisseur) mentioned in one episode that Wensleydale was a particular favorite.
Wensleydale contacted the show and asked about a special license to make a Wensleydale Wallace and Gromit cheese and it’s been a huge success! Yay Wallace and Gromit for saving Wensleydale!
So not only will you find Wallace and Gromit on your cheese, but you’ll also find the characters enjoying the cheese throughout the Wensleydale Cheese Experience.
Whether you’re a local or a visitor looking for a fun way to spend a day, taking a tour of the Wensleydale Cheese Factory in Hawes is an excellent choice and one you will not regret. But don’t forget to support this awesome cheese company and buy a wedge or block. Or, let’s be honest, a whole wheel.