Specialist cheesemonger The Courtyard Dairy in the Yorkshire Dales is named in Financial Times list of the world's 50 best food shops

A specialist independent cheesemonger in the Yorkshire Dales has been named among the 50 best food shops in the world by the Financial Times.

The Courtyard Dairy in Austwick, near Settle, is included in the list alongside businesses in San Francisco, Washington DC, Singapore, London, Barcelona, Venice, New York, Rome and Paris. It is one of 13 British entries and the only one from the north of England.

Writers praised the shop's 'cool atmosphere' as ideal for ageing cheeses and commended the vast selection of products available.

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Expert cheesemongers Andy and Kathy Swinscoe opened The Courtyard Dairy in 2012 and moved into larger premises in a former falconry centre in 2017, adding a cafe and museum to their offering. They specialise in British farmyard cheeses and work with local producers such as Gillian Clough of Hebden Bridge, who supplies goats' cheese from her small herd.

The Courtyard Dairy

Mr Swinscoe said the accolade was 'completely unexpected' and was a morale boost for staff after a difficult year in which the business had to pivot to online sales, home delivery and virtual cheese tasting classes to survive.

"It's a fabulous bit of recognition and we're really proud - we had no idea they'd visited us and it's come out of the blue really. It's really justified what we're doing here - when we first opened eight years ago, we were swimming against the tide a bit, but now people's appreciation of good food has caught up.

"At the start of the first lockdown, we struggled as we had a lot of fresh cheese for restaurants that we couldn't sell, but the online tasting sessions saved us and kept us going - we got a lot of corporate bookings. Restaurant wholesale orders have come back really well so far and a lot of the local chefs have diversified into food at home boxes, so we've managed to scrape through."

The cafe and museum have yet to re-open although the shop is trading again, as they are housed in a small barn where social distancing would not be possible.

Andy Swinscoe outside The Courtyard Dairy

Yet 2022 is set to be a big year for The Courtyard Dairy, with plans to build a new maturation cellar and a larger building for the cafe overlooking Ingleborough.

"The local community has really supported us this past year, Settle is important to us but we've also had people from Leeds and Harrogate venturing out again and it's really nice to see those customers come back. I love retail, it's all about that interaction and it's nice to see the faces of people who've been ordering online."