Jervaulx Abbey

North Yorkshire

There are many abbey ruins down leafy country lanes in Yorkshire, but Jervaulx has an unusual claim to fame as the birthplace of Wensleydale cheese. It was founded in 1156 by Cistercian monks from France, who brought with them the original recipe. Today the ruins run wild in tranquil meadows off the A6108 between Masham and Leyburn. You’ll have to let your imagination do the same when you visit, as there’s no signage at the site.

The abbey tearoom across the road sells a guidebook (£2.50), as well as cakes and coffees, in a friendly environment where there’s also a scale model of the abbey as it would have looked in its medieval heyday. Proceeds from the cafe support the upkeep – Jervaulx is the largest privately owned abbey in the UK and has been a family business run by the Burdons since 1971.

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