Swaledale Cheese loses its elite protected status after it was forced to shift production 12-miles west to Wensleydale
- Artisans have been crafting cheese in Swaledale for more than 1,000 years
- The company’s owner says it had ‘no choice’ but to move to nearby Wensleydale
- The cheese has now lost its Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status
One of the country’s best-loved cheeses has lost its protected status – after it was forced to shift production to a neighbouring area.
For more than 1,000 years, the artisans of Swaledale have crafted the finest cheeses among the rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales.
Cistercian monks are said to have perfected a technique using ewe’s milk, then passed on to generations of North Yorkshire farmers.
Swaledale Cheese has been produced for over 1,000 years in the Yorkshire dale, but will now lose its protected status as production moves 12 miles away to Wensleydale
But a glitch with a business lease means that production in Swaledale has had to move a dozen miles to Wensleydale – and the cheese has lost its protected status as a result.
Last week, the Department for Environment, Food and Agricultural Affairs announced that the white, crumbly cheese has – for now – lost its elite food ranking as it is no longer made in the area.
Richard Darbishire, the owner of Swaledale Cheese, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘It’s a sad day but we had no choice.’
Swaledale creameries thrived for centuries. Farmers began to use a variety of milks, including cows’.
By 1980, there was only one producer, the Langstaffs of Harkerside.
After her husband’s death, Marjorie Langstaff gave the recipe to Brian and Mandy Reed at Swaledale Cheese in 1987.
It was granted the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) in 1996. But after the Reeds’ early deaths, the cheesemaker went under.
Mr Darbishire, who bought Swaledale in 2019, said: ‘Our plan is to rebuild the brand, bring back a sheep’s milk version of the cheese, and also to launch a goat’s milk Swaledale.’
But the entrepreneur has had to move the cheesemaking to nearby Leyburn in the heart of Wensleydale. And its protected status was lost with the move.
Mr Darbishire accepts the taste may be slightly different as cattle in Swaledale feed on a unique diet of lush pasture and wildflowers.
Swaledale creameries have thrived for centuries. Farmers there began to use a variety of milks, including cows’
But he plans to apply for his cheeses to be given a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), a similar status to the PDO.
Now there are two traditional artisan cheeses in the same dale.
Real Yorkshire Wensleydale, made by the Wensleydale Creamery, already has the PGI accolade.
But cheese wholesaler Richard Holmes is optimistic, saying: ‘These farmhouse cheeses have both been around for over a thousand years.’
Wensleydale Creamery declined to comment.
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