CHEESE and countryside fans are in for a treat this month as the The Yorkshire Dales National Park’s first Cheese Festival promises to be a cracker.

Among a host of sampling, making and cookery demonstrations, visitors to the festival, which kicks off on September 23 at The Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes, can also combine tastings with walking, cycling, climbing or canoeing their way round the Dales and Nidderdale during a week-long programme of events.

Cyclists can join a 50-mile ‘Meet the Makers’ jaunt through the country lanes from Wensleydale to Jervaulx Abbey near Ripon, before returning through Coverdale eating up the miles with a number of sampling stops along the way.

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Meanwhile walkers can stride out on one of the milk and cheese guided walks, combining visits to The Wensleydale Creamery, farms and the Dales Countryside Museum to glean more about the rich dairy heritage.

Meanwhile runners can sign up to the four-mile off road Truckle Run at Askrigg Camping or take on the Yorkshire Dales Team Building’s challenge of climbing at Twistleton Scar near Hawes in the morning, before spending an afternoon canoeing on Semerwater, interspersed with a ploughman’s cheese picnic lunch.

Food lovers can sample an array of locally-produced cheese, bread, oatcakes, meat, foraged food and preserves throughout the Festival week while restaurants, farm shops and cafés from Malham to Sedbergh, Hawes to Ripon pull out the stops to lay on wine and cheese parties and special celebratory dining menus.

The week culminates with a celebration of local game at Bolton Castle in Wensleydale on Saturday September, 30

The Cheese Festival will run from 10am to 5pm on both September 23 and 24 at The Wensleydale Creamery.

It will be free to attend, but some charges will be made to participate in certain activities which will be bookable in advance. For the full programme and booking details visit yorkshiredales.org.uk