Rachel & Sam are artisan cheese makers. Rachel works at Booths in Settle during the day, but in the morning’s milks sheep for Sam to turn into cheese at The Courtyard Dairy in Austwick, where he has been working for a few years.
Rachel’s dream was always to live in the Countryside. “My whole life I have wanted to live more rurally. I originally come from County Durham in a little old miner’s village. And ever since I was little we used to go on holiday to the Lake District, and as we drove over the Pennines I used to point at the most remote farms and say I want to live there”.
I never grew out of that, so I always knew in my head that’s what I wanted, and then I met Sam who conveniently lived in the Yorkshire Dales so I moved there to move in with Sam, but it had always been my ultimate goal to end up in a place like this.
Sam grew up in Silsden, but was training to be a lawyer in the Netherlands. “I was working in an office doing legal research and kind of wanted to return to the Country. I was finding sitting in front of a computer screen for eight or nine hours a day a bit of a drag so I decide to come back to the Dales. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, then a job came up for two days a week at the Courtyard Dairy and I thought why not, let’s see what this does. I like food, I like Cheese, I want to be in Dales and this allows me to move to Settle and have a go at it. And I’ve really enjoyed it! I’ve visited a lot of cheese producers and people farming and making cheese with their own milk”.
“Over a couple of years I’ve picked up a real passion for it, and wanted to understand more about how it works and have a go myself, alongside working in the cheese shop during the day we’ve built up a bit of a business making cheese, and we’ve been lucky enough to find people who are willing to let us use farm buildings and borrow animals to start milking and to make our own cheese”.
Rachel says the local community have been incredible, “I have been blown away by the generosity of the people who live in this community. Everyone really knows each other and there’s such a community spirit that you can just turn up on somebody’s’ doorstep, knock on the door and say you don’t know me but I need a bit of land to rent, a bit of help, and they’ll invite you in for a cup of tea and if they can help you they absolutely will”.
“I don’t think we could have built the business anywhere else. We are only where we are – doing what we are doing with this business – because of the people of the Yorkshire Dales, which is incredible”.
There’s a room in the Courtyard Dairy where cheese making courses are run a couple of times a month. Rachel & Sam rent a bit of that space to make their own artisan cheese with the support of the Courtyard Dairy. They have been trialling small batches of cheese for a couple of years now, but plan to produce a soft lactic cheese called ‘Fenbeck’ in honour of beck on the farm they’ve been using to milk the sheep.
Rachel says that young people should definitely consider moving to a place like the Yorkshire Dales. “It’s incredible, I can’t find enough words to describe the change that’s happened in my life since I moved. I wasn’t happy in County Durham. I didn’t particularly enjoy busy towns, and since I moved here doors have suddenly opened and I’ve gone from being quite frustrated to suddenly having to pinch myself and say oh my god I live here”.
“The people are incredible, the community are incredible, and the landscape around us is incredible. There are so many reasons to live here”.