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A visit to Heap’s Dairy, home of Calderdale Cheese

Not long after moving to Calderdale, I came across a cracking market stall on Todmorden market. Seduced at first by the wonderful pies on sale, I soon sampled the locally made cheese, and struck up a conversation with the proprietor, Robyn Heap. She told me about the farm she and her husband David ran, and how they’d started to produce their own commercial farmhouse cheese, the first in Calderdale, based on a century-old recipe they’d found whilst carrying out work in the cellars. I’m a sucker for good Yorkshire ales paired with equally good Yorkshire foodstuffs, and I’d found a great half of the equation at this stall.

Fast forward eighteen months, plently of pies and cheese from the stall, a royal visit and much official recognition later, and I was finally able to visit their farm on the tops at Hubberton above Sowerby Bridge. I really couldn’t have asked for a better day: not a cloud in the sky, and only the sound of bees and curlews in the sky above. I shot the panoramas in this post, and a regular photoshoot of farm life as well, and enjoyed the banter, wisdom and hospitality of David and Robyn during my visit. I think the views below capture a little of the magic, beauty and hard work which this successful farm exudes. I can’t finish without urging you to try and sample some of their wares if you’re in the area (see their website for stockists) because it’s great stuff: somewhere between a Lancashire, Wensleydale and a Cheshire cheese. Perfect with some homemade bread and a bottle of locally brewed beer!

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Click below for a fullscreen 360° view of the scene in Flash or QuickTime format, or locate the scene in Google Earth.

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Click below for a fullscreen 360° view of the scene in Flash or QuickTime format, or locate the scene in Google Earth.

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Click below for a fullscreen 360° view of the scene in Flash or QuickTime format, or locate the scene in Google Earth.

Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing Festival

This is the ceremonial procession of the annual Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing Festival, which I shot earlier today. The day was blessed by largely good weather, and the dancers, musicians, mummers and other handsomely-attired people made for an extraordinary spectacle.

“Rushbearing dates back several centuries to the time when rushes provided floor covering in the churches. Each year, the old, rotten rushes were thrown out and new ones were taken to the churches in carts. This gradually turned into a celebration and holiday involving revelry, music and morris dancing.

The modern Festival is the only one of its kind in Yorkshire. The focal point of the event is the sixteen feet high, two-wheeled, handsomely decorated and thatched Rushcart, which is pulled by sixty local men dressed in Panama hats, white shirts, black trousers and clogs. They are accompanied by music and five or six teams of morris dancers.

A team of young ladies take turns to ride on top of the cart. A very precarious position indeed. The colourful procession is an unforgettable spectacle as it winds its way through local villages over the course of the weekend.” (excerpts from www.rushbearing.co.uk)

Click below for a fullscreen 360° view of the scene in Flash or QuickTime format, or locate the scene in Google Earth.