Abbey Farm Cottage

The rural smallholding

What makes a West Sussex based chartered surveyor and a city banker, transport a herd of goats and a collection of ducks, chickens and horses, 250 miles to deepest North Yorkshire?

According to Yorkshire-born Suzie Birrell-Gray and husband Jonty, it was more than just coming home, it was about living the dream. ‘I’ve always loved animals’ says Suzie as her five dogs and one nonchalant cat, roam the small farm they bought in 2019 and where they are now busy creating the good life nestled beneath Chimney Bank in a beautiful corner of Rosedale Abbey.

To live the country life they longed for, they have created a ‘portfolio business’ combining goats: the breeding, rearing and milking of; cheese and yoghurt-making and hospitality in the form of two cosy shepherds’ huts and a self-catering cottage. It all combines to make up Abbey Farm Cottage.

Goats cheese on a wooden board next to red wine. Shepherd's hut in the background by Polly Baldwin

Between them the couple milk the goats each morning and collect the eggs and run the cheese room. They make three cheeses, a mild and fresh, white-rinded, raw milk cheese they call the Rosedale, a beautiful Bell Top Crottin and Bell End Blue, named after the legendary Bell End Farm at Rosedale Head is a Camembert-style cheese with minimal veining that increasing as it matures. Yoghurt and labneh are often available too.

They run two cheesemaking courses. A three-hour course allows guests to make haloumi, a creamy soft chevre and instructions on making yoghurt and labneh (a mild cheese made from strained yoghurt). The longer five-hour course allows time to make a feta-style cheese and includes a light lunch.

Suzie scooping cheese from a vat by Polly Baldwin

Goat hasn’t caught on much in the UK outside the Afro-Caribbean community, the name ‘kid’ doesn’t help, but it’s common in Italy, Greece, Portugal and many other parts of the world. Jonty saw the potential for goat meat after watching a chef cook with it on the Great British Menu. To that end, the male dairy kids on the farm, which would otherwise be discarded at birth, are here being reared for their sustainable, mild and tender meat that cooks like lamb.

Alongside cheesemaking, Suzi offers ‘Goat Experience Days where visitors can learn about goat rearing, feeding, including bottle feeding where appropriate and goat management. There are visits to the cheese room and a light, goat-inspired lunch and on alternate Sundays they run …. wait for it … goat yoga.

Goats stood on a cotton wheel outside by Polly Baldwin

It has taken five years for Abbey Farm to get accreditation for their cheeses, but it’s been worth the wait.  The French call it terroir: the character and flavour that comes from the region where the food is produced. It applies to Suzie’s 50 well-tended, well-loved goats who graze the field beside the cheese room, feeding on the verdant pastures in this tranquil, unspoilt corner of the Rosedale Valley, and from them comes the excellent milk (they are certified raw milk producers), and by extension terrific cheese and meat - truly local, seasonal and distinctive produce that is the hallmark of Abbey Farm.

In spring 2024 they won awards for their Rosedale and their Bell End Blue in Best Artisan Soft Goat’s Cheese category at the Virtual Cheese Awards 2024  and also picked up the prize for New Cheesemaker of the Year.

Abbey Farm Cottage

Business details


Phone number

07714 217195


Produce is available from the farm and their online shop


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