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Our Farm by Farm Guide to the Grand Depart

Blog • July 1st 2014

If you're watching the tour on telly, (hopefully munching on our Grand Depart sausages!) keep your eyes peeled for the local landmarks below, and our farms. Many of our herds and flocks are reared along the Tour route, so you'll be able to see the lush pastures and stunning vistas they enjoy.

1. Leeds

Setting off from the Yorkshire hub of Leeds, famous for its covered markets and breweries, the 101st Tour won't be far in before the peloton are zipping through countryside. The first place of significance is Harewood House, a beautiful stately home, and something the cameras will be sure to be trying to a shot of.

Keep An Eye Out For: Harewood House

2. Manderlea Farm

After Harewood House, look out for Mark Keithley's Texel Lambs in the fields as the Tour nears the town of Otley in the valley of Wharfedale. Mark's pedigree Texels have been winning at country shows in this area for the last ten years, and as Mark explains his lamb is so good "because our Texel lambs are all reared naturally, and as a breed they promise the best consistency and the best eating quality."

Keep An Eye Out For: Texel lambs near the River Wharfe

3. Ilkley

After Otley, keep an eye out for the pretty town of Ilkley, and behind Ilkley the world famous Ilkley Moor (actually part of the much larger Rombalds Moor). This is where the county anthem of Yorkshire is from, titled 'On Ilkla Moor Bahr 'At, (in English, 'On Ilkley Moor Without A Hat').

Keep An Eye Out For: Ilkley Moor

4. Manor Farm & Royd House Farm

Just on the outskirts of Skipton is where we source much of our prime beef and lamb. At Manor Farm, John Spencley keeps Limousin, as well as Angus and Longhorn cattle, while at Royd House Farm farmer Alan Wade supplies us with full flavoured Suffolk breed lamb.

Keep An Eye Out For: Longhorn Cattle in the fields

5. Skipton

Known as the Gateway to the Dales, this is where the Tour will swing North and make its way into the Dales proper. Set on the River Aire, this is where we pop our farm produce into boxes. That's because it's a stone's throw from most of our farms, so we get the produce as fresh as possible, and we're able to keep food miles to a minimal.

Keep An Eye Out For: Skipton Castle

6. New Laithe Farm

Heading a few miles North from Skipton, near the village of Hetton, lies New Laithe Farm, run by James Duehurst. New Laithe Farm is right in the middle of dry stone wall country, specialising in bringing to market Texels, North of England Mules, and Blue Faced Leicesters from his flock of 200 or so sheep.

Keep An Eye Out For: Dry stone walled fields with sheep

7. Kilsney Crag

After the tour reaches Threshfield, the peloton is into Wharfedale proper. This is one of the most spectacular sections of the tour, one that the helicopters will be trying to get into their shot. Kilnsey Crag is a huge limestone formation, well known to rock climbers, and one of the most memorable landscapes in Wharfedale. Keep an eye out for a herd of Galloways, Highlands, and Herefords in the valley above the Crag. This is the herd of our farmer John Harrison, who is based near Ripon, though he puts his cattle out to pasture on the valley tops.

Keep An Eye Out For: Our cattle above the crag

8. Hawes

After Kilnsey, the Tour passes up Wharfedale and over the Kidstones Pass, past the stunning waterfalls at Aysgarth. The Tour is now in Wensleydale, and turns West towards Hawes. This of course is where the world famous Wensleydale Cheese is made, and where the beautiful Wensleydale breed of sheep is from.

Keep An Eye Out For: The Wensleydale Creamery

9. The Buttertubs

The most beautiful and dramatic of the passes through the Dales, the Buttertubs links Wensleydale to Swaledale. A punishing ascent, the riders should then zip Eastwards though the picturesque villages of Muker, Gunnerside, and Reeth before turning South towards Leyburn and then on to Masham.

Keep An Eye Out For: The Buttertubs rock formations

10. Wensleydale, Swaledale, and Nidderdale

The tops of the valleys between these three valleys is covered with heather, which turns a stunning shade of purple between July and September. This is where much of our game is sourced from, with grouse, pheasant, and partridge being shot and brought to our butchers from these remote areas.

Keep An Eye Out For: The moorland and heather between the valleys

11. Masham

Home of Black Sheep Beer, and also the Masham breed of sheep we regularly stock, this quaint market town marks the start of a much flatter section of road. Lets hope Cavendish is near the front to take advantage!

Keep An Eye Out For: The Black Sheep Brewery

Not from Masham, near the village of Kirkby Malzeard lies the Nook, managed by John Harrison. Here John tends his herd of Galloways of all colours, which he also puts out to pasture near Kilnsey Crag.

Keep An Eye Out For: Belted Galloways in the fields.

13. Ripon

The home of our office, Ripon is a stunning cathedral city, right on the edge of the Dales. Famous for its connection to Lewis Carroll, expect to see the Farmison & Co yellow bike lining the route.

Keep An Eye Out For: The Anglo-Saxon Cathedral (our office is just in front of it!)

14. Harrogate

Our cured bacon is named for this lovely Spa Town. It also happens to be where the first stage finishes. With any luck it'll be Cavenish - a local lad - wearing the yellow on the podium!

Keep An Eye Out For: Cavendish wearing yellow