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Wensleydale cheese is a cheese produced in the town of Hawes in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire, England. There are two types, both of which are suitable for vegetarians:

  • White Wensleydale is usually shaped into a flat disc known as a "truckle" that is highly pressed, and has a honey flavour to it.
  • Blue Wensleydale has blue veins and is produced in large drums.

Flavour and texture[]

The Wensleydale pastures give the cheese the unique flavour for which it is renowned. Good Wensleydale has a supple, crumbly, moist texture and resembles a young Caerphilly. The flavour suggests wild honey balanced with a fresh acidity.


Wensleydale cheese was first made by French Cistercian monks from the Roquefort region settled in Wensleydale. They built a monastery at Fors, but some years later the monks moved to Jervaulx in Lower Wensleydale. They brought with them a recipe for making cheese from ewe's milk. During the 1300s cow's milk began to be used instead of ewe's and the character of the cheese began to change. A little ewes' milk was still mixed in since it gave a more open texture and allowed the development of the blue mould. At that time, Wensleydale was almost always blue with the white 'un-blue' variety almost unknown. Nowadays, the opposite is true, with blue Wensleydale rarely seen. When the monastery was dissolved in 1540 the local farmers continued making the cheese right up until the Second World War, during which most milk in the country was used for the making of 'Government Cheddar'. Even after rationing ceased in 1954, cheese making did not return to pre-war levels.

Dairy Crest and the Management Buyout[]

Wensleydale Creamery has been hand crafting cheese for more than 100 years to time-honoured traditional recipes.

In May 1992 Dairy Crest, a subsidiary of the Milk Marketing Board, closed the Hawes creamery with the loss of 59 jobs. This was the last creamery in the dale. Dairy Crest transferred production of Wensleydale cheese to Yorkshire's traditional rival, Lancashire.

Six months later, in November 1992, following many offers to rescue the Creamery, a management buyout took place led by local businessman, John Gibson, and the management team, with the help of eleven members of the former workforce, cheese making recommenced in Wensleydale.

In 1994 a Visitor Centre was opened incorporating a viewing gallery, cheese shop with tasting area, gift shop and restaurant giving people the opportunity to “Share the Goodness of Real Yorkshire Wensleydale”. Today Wensleydale Dairy Products is a thriving business, producing award-winning cheeses and it employs 190 local people and buys from 36 farms in Wensleydale.

Wallace and Gromit[]

In the 1990s, sales had fallen so low that production was at risk of being suspended. Fortunately, inspiration struck when the popular Wallace and Gromit 1995 short, A Close Shave, had Wallace mention Wensleydale as being a particularly favourite cheese. Wensleydale was also mentioned in their Academy Award-nominated first short A Grand Day Out. Animator Nick Park chose it solely because it had a good name that would be interesting to animate, unaware of the financial difficulties. The company contacted Aardman Animations about a licence for a special brand of "Wallace and Gromit Wensleydale," which proved to be an enormous success. The producers of Wensledayle cheese realy owe Wallace and Gromit, don't they!

Seeking Protected Status[]

Wensleydale Dairy Products is seeking to protect Wensleydale Cheese from imposters following the announcement that it is to make a submission for Protected designation of origin for Real Yorkshire Wensleydale Cheese.

Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) aims to promote and protect food products in the European Union and is used to describe foodstuffs which are produced, processed and prepared in a given geographical area using recognised know-how. This will mean that any manufacturers outside of Wensleydale cannot produce a cheese and call it Real Yorkshire Wensleydale.

The application process involves the first stage submission and approval by DEFRA after which the application is submitted to the European Union.

Common Flavour Combinations[]

The flavour of Wensleydale is suited to combination with sweeter produce, such as fruit. A popular combination available in many restaurants and delicatessens is Wensleydale containing Cranberries. In the north-east of England it is often consumed with fruit cake or Christmas cake.[1]

Other pop culture references[]

The owner of Monty Python's Cheese Shop is called Henry Wensleydale (played by Michael Palin), who ironically has no Wensleydale cheese - or any other varieties - for sale.

In the issue, In Which We Wake, of the Sandman (Vertigo) comic book series written by Neil Gaiman, Dream's brother Destruction requests Wensleydale cheese when asked by his brother if he would like something to eat.

See also[]

External links[]