Wensleydale, Yorkshire Dales National Park, North Yorkshire
© Guy Edwardes/Minden Picture
A cracking place for crumbly cheese
Breathe in the fresh air of the Yorkshire Dales. Dewy mornings, grazing sheep, miles and miles of dry stone walls and of course, the big cheese itself. Wallace & Gromit fans will be very familiar with this bit of the Dales, Wensleydale, and its cheese of the same name. The animated duo's famous affinity for the local delicacy - which Wallace likes because producers thought it made his face look 'nice and toothy' - helped boost interest in Wensleydale, which up until the early 1990s had seen a fall in sales. Upper Wensleydale’s main town, Hawes, is home to the Wensleydale Creamery, which makes about 4,000 tonnes of the famous cheese annually.
Cheese aside, another staple of Wensleydale, and the surrounding Yorkshire Dales National Park, are the 5,000 miles of dry stone walls that have crisscrossed the landscape for centuries. The walls were built by farmers to mark boundaries and to keep their cows and sheep from wandering off. The walls are considered 'dry' because they were built with no mortar to bind the stones together. Larger stones form a base for the wall, upon which smaller stones are stacked to create two parallel wall faces, constructed simultaneously. More stones are then used to fill in the gap between the two wall faces, with gravity doing the rest. While that may sound flimsy, a well-constructed dry stone wall can last at least 100 years.