5 Cheese Producers in Cumbria

Farming in remote landscapes isn’t easy, yet Cumbria and the Lake District have acquired an increasingly strong reputation for high quality food, and the region’s dairy products are no exception. Cumbria is home to an abundance of local farmers and dairy producers making products such as yoghurt, cheese, ice cream and butter, utilising the milk produced from their cows, sheep and goats.

With lush pastures and fertile lands which have nurtured generations of Cumbrian dairy farmers, the region’s agricultural legacy runs deep. From award-winning meats and cheese to delicious jams and relishes, Cumbria is brimming with locally sourced and lovingly produced food and drink. The region also hosts a number of Michelin star restaurants which make use of local produce where possible.

But local farmers need our continued support, or we risk losing our dairy herds, meaning we’ll have to source dairy from elsewhere in the UK and beyond.

Join us as we take a look at 5 of the best cheese producers in Cumbria as well as their delicious offerings and where you can find them!

1. Thornby Moor Dairy, Carlisle

Thornby Moor Dairy is a hidden gem in Cumbria, known for its exceptional cheesemaking. Nestled in the heart of the Solway Plain looking out over the northern fells of the Lake District, Thornby Moor Dairy was established as a specialist cheesemaker in 1979 by Carolyn Fairbairn.

Entirely self-taught, Carolyn began adapting a basic smallholder recipe to make Allerdale cheese using raw milk from her own herd of goats. Encouraged by a neighbouring farmer, production of raw cow’s milk cheese soon followed. Thornby Moor Dairy say: “We have always taken a practical approach – reading recipes, a lot of trial and plenty of error, common sense and perseverance has resulted in the development of our unique range of cheeses.”

Over the years more cheeses have been developed using both cow’s and goat’s milk and from time to time, ewe’s milk. Today, Carolyn continues to make cheese 5-6 days a week with the help of three assistant cheesemakers, sourcing quality local milk from Parton Hall, Micklethwaite (Dairy Shorthorn cows) and Dolken Dairy Goats, Thornby Moor (goats’ milk).

2. Torpenhow Cheese, Wigton

Torpenhow Farmhouse Dairy is another award-winning cheesemaker in Cumbria, renowned for their creamy, deep flavoured organic cheese made from their Jersey-Friesian herd. Residing at Park House Farm on the northern edge of the Lake District, Torpenhow Cheese Company is a family run business that was established in 2019.

The delightful cheeses from Torpenhow Cheese Company reflect the unique flavours of the region, showcasing a diverse range of cheeses from soft and creamy to aged and complex options. The changes in the seasons and which pasture the cows graze in are even reflected in the taste and texture of the cheeses. The range of organic farmhouse cheese includes Darling Howe Brie, Park House Cheddar, Binsey Red, Trusmadoor and Oak Smoked Cheddar.

What’s more, Torpenhow Farmhouse Dairy is partnered with Cumbrian ice cream farm Three Hills Gelato which is featured in our blog on the best ice cream shops in Cumbria. Three Hills Gelato experimented making gelato using Torpenhow Farmhouse Dairy’s milk from their pasture fed cows and were so impressed by the delicious product that they decided to move production to the farm!

3. Appleby Creamery, Appleby-in-Westmorland

Situated in the Eden Valley in Cumbria, Appleby Creamery produces a wide range of distinctive and characterful cheeses using Ayrshire cow’s milk from Crofthead Farm in Dumfries and Galloway.

Appleby Creamery was established in 2007 and the current team is now run by Maurice who is supported by a team of dedicated cheese makers. Their exquisite products range from soft cheeses, such as blue, brie and smoked brie to hard varieties, including cheddar and Caerphilly-style cheeses as well as the tempting new products they are constantly changing. Their commitment to traditional cheese making methods shines through in the exceptional quality and flavour of their products.

The team’s expertise combined with the highest quality ingredients makes the Appleby Creamery cheese a delectable range of products which can be found in wholesalers, farm shops and a range of Booth’s stores across the UK.

4. Mawbray Cheese Company, Maryport

Located in Maryport in western Cumbria, Mawbray Cheese Company make and sell over 20 different cheeses for order and delivery.

The Mawbray Cheese company take pride in using high-quality, locally sourced milk from Jersey cows and goats which they purchase and pasteurise using only vegetable rennet, creating a range of delicious cheese that cater to every taste. Their cheeses are all named after local villages and they are a must for anyone seeking to indulge in the authentic flavours of locally produced cheese.

You will find Mawbray Cheese at farm shops and food festivals in Cumbria throughout the year!

5. St James Cheese, Grange-Over-Sands

St James Cheese are a small family-run ewe’s cheese dairy based near Grange-Over-Sands in the southmost part of the Lake District National Park in Cumbria. Instead of producing a commercial product in large quantities, cheesemaker’s Martin and Nicola focus on producing a relatively small amount of ewe’s cheese of the highest quality.

Having gained experience working with acclaimed cheesemakers such as Graham Kirkham of Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire, Martin set up St James Cheese at Holker Farm to produce a product totally unique to the local area. The aim of St James Cheese is to provide interesting and unusual flavours, offering people something they are unlikely to have tasted before.

Martin is one of only a small handful of cheesemakers in the UK who make their own starter cultures, resulting in St James Cheese winning the James Aldrige Memorial Award for best British raw milk cheese in one of it’s first years of existence. Today, you will find St James Cheese’s delectable products on their website, in shops and at events across the county.

Each company brings its unique flavours and traditions to the table, showcasing the rich heritage of cheesemaking and farming in Cumbria. Whether you’re drawn to soft cheeses or hard varieties, the county of Cumbria has a cheese for every taste. So, embrace Cumbrian foods, support these local producers and expand your culinary horizons with delicious cheese crafted in Cumbria.

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