As part of my foodie trip to Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland, myself and a few other lovely bloggers took a trip to Cream o’Galloway dairy farm for some tasty ice cream and cheese samples.
From what I can gather, Cream o’Galloway seems to be a bit of a local icon. They’ve been on the same spot since the 1920s, and began making cheese in the 1930s to help keep locals sustained during World War Two. They stopped producing cheese in the 1970s thanks to the popularity of mass-produced cheddar, choosing to concentrate solely on milk. However, in the 1990s they started to make cheese once again, which is fantastic news for us!
The farm is a fantastic place to visit for both kids and grown ups (and for those of us who sit somewhere in between…). As well as farm and creamery tours, there’s also a ton of activities for adventurers to try their hand at. They’ve got an adventure playground, a 3D maze, an indoor play area and even a specially built aerial netting adventure area – which I’m going to just have to try out when I return.
If I’m completely honest, before I arrived at the farm, I was a little bit nervous as to what I would find. As a vegetarian, I’m always particularly concerned about animal welfare at farms. However, what I found at Cream o’Galloway was that the well-being of the cows was always at the forefront of everything the owners did.
In particular, I was incredibly impressed by the farm’s dedication to ensuring calves stay with their mums for as long as possible, despite the decreased yield of milk this gives the farm. By maintaining careful links between them, the farm owners have been able to see that, not only have the babies grown a lot quicker, but everyone’s a lot happier and less stressed. Of course, it’s a fine art to stop the calves from taking all their mum’s milk and therefore making the farm go bankrupt, but the staff seem genuinely dedicated to making sure this becomes an achievable future.
At first we were taken to see the cows in their home. While half of the cows were getting ready to give birth, the other half were minding their own business, grazing on silage – conserved grass from the summer months. The lovely Wilma Finlay and the farm’s marketing lady Helen told us they prefer the cows to be outside in the fields, but in the winter months when it’s so cold it’s pretty darn impossible. (I’m totally going into business making jumpers for cows.) The cows even have their own ‘cow car wash’ to help keep them clean. Watching the sheer unadulterated joy of one of the cows having a whale of a time brushing up against the machine was definitely one of the highlights of the whole trip!
And, to be honest, the cows have it pretty good inside. Each cow has their own mattress to sleep on, with the idea being that people should be able to fall knees first on the mattress and not be hurt – this therefore gives the cows a little bit more comfort when they plonk themselves down for the night. While we were being shown round, I heard the dulcet tones of some music floating through the air. Apparently the guy who works there likes to play Radio 2 to keep himself amused, but I like the idea of imagining the cows having their own after-hours dance when he’s got his back turned.
The Food Sampling
Ice cream samples probably isn’t what I would ordinarily go for in January, but I’m jolly glad we were able to try out some of the farm’s range because they were incredible.
Unlike big names, the Cream o’ Galloway ice cream isn’t pumped full of air or water, so what you get is completely pure. Billed as a ‘luxury’ ice cream, it may not look like you get a lot for your money, but you certainly win on taste. Light, creamy and perfectly chilled, I was blown away by how tasty the ice cream was, with flavours such as sticky toffee, whisky and raspberry. I’m just absolutely gutted there isn’t a stockist near me in Essex!
The artisan cheese was also completely yummy, having been allowed to mature for a little while. Although a little stronger than the cheese I’m used to, the samples really opened up my tastebuds, and I loved the taste of the as-yet-unnamed product they’ve been busy refining. If I hadn’t have had such a long journey back home I would most certainly have stocked up on some cheeses for my dinner parties… (Just realised – they have an online cheese shop, hurrah!)
The enthusiasm and the passion the staff have for the cows and their products made it an absolute pleasure to explore the farm. The on-site cafe was a great addition, and I can imagine it’s a great place in the summer for families to try some of the amazing ice cream flavours.
- Cream o’Galloway is open during the February school holidays, and then from March 21st 2015 until 1st November. For full details of when the farm is open, have a look here.
- Entry to the adventure playground is free for both adults and children.
- During peak times, access to the supervised rides is available for £12.50 for adults, £12.50 for kids aged 6-17, and £5 for kids aged 3-5.
- To find your nearest stockist of Cream o’Galloway ice cream, visit here.
A big thank you to Visit Scotland for hosting me on this press trip. As always, all opinions are my own!
Have you been to Cream o’Galloway? Would you like to visit?