A CAFÉ opened just 15 months ago at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes has reached the finals of the White Rose Awards for the top tourist attractions of 2017 in Yorkshire.

The Firebox, at Stage 1 Cycles, run by Helen Pollard and Mike Allenby, is competing with five others for the Taste of Yorkshire award.

“We’re very excited to be part of a cohort of fantastic Wensleydale businesses that have been shortlisted in so many different categories,” said Helen. “When you see what a wide area the awards cover, it’s amazing how many are from this small corner of the county.”

Helen and Mike won the franchise to run the café as part of the cycle hire and training business, which they started in their home village of Askrigg, in Wensleydale, in July 2014 to coincide with the Grand Départ of the Tour de France.

They moved to the Hawes station site as the business expanded and decided the café would be the perfect partner for the venture.

Said Helen: “The two business are essentially linked and mutually support each other. The Firebox is essential for many of our scheduled cycling activities and independent cyclists expect good food and coffee during the break from their rides.”

The café also caters for the museum’s day visitors, as well as those attending its conferences, workshops and other daytime activities.

“We have something to suit all visitors, on two wheels or two feet. We also aim to be friendly to families and those with small appetites. Virtually all our food is made from scratch on site or is locally-sourced. The only cake we don’t make is Crockett’s fruit cake,” she adds.

Meat is from Nigel Hammond, family butcher in Bainbridge, jams and chutneys from Derek Kettlewell at Raydale Preserves in Stalling Busk, and Wensleydale Ice-cream from Adrian and Gill Harrison at Thornton Rust.

Emily Pickard of Aysgarth is full-time cook, supported by Lindsey Whaley.

The Dales Countryside Museum is also among the finalists in the 2017 awards, in the art and culture section, for the Spear installation at Semerwater.

Other local businesses which have been shortlisted include Low Mill Guest House, Bainbridge (guest accommodation of the year), the Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes (large attraction), Yorebridge House, Bainbridge (outstanding customer service, and small hotel categories), and Cottage in the Dales at Newbiggin in Bishopdale (self-catering accommodation) which was voted Visit England’s UK winner earlier this year.