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Hawes, Upper Wensleydale

Hawes is the market town of Upper Wensleydale, which once enjoyed an important position on the Lancaster-Richmond Turnpike road, a momento of which is a coachman’s bell high on the wall of one of the town’s inns.

Modern traffic has long replaced coaches and horse drawn waggons along its narrow streets, but market day (Tuesdays) in Hawes is as busy as ever, with a farmers’ auction mart attracting sheep farmers from all over the north of England. Traditional shops, cafés and inns now cater for a variety of Dales visitors as well as the local community, but you’ll find a rope maker still making ropes in the traditional way.

The award-winning Wensleydale Creamery, made famous by the animated Wallace and Grommit films, is now open to visitors so that they can see the famous cheese being made and sample the end product in a welcoming café.

In the old station yard you will find the busy National Park Centre and Dales Countryside Museum, where a fine old steam engine stands, as if waiting to ease its coaches up non existent tracks to Garsdale. The Museum is home to the magnificent collection of Dales artefacts by the two great Dales historians and writers, Marie Hartley and Joan Ingilby.

Nearby Gayle Mill is Wensleydale's latest heritage attraction, having featured in the BBC's Restoration programme. Tickets for the mill tour should be purchased in advance at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes. 

There is a good choice of overnight accommodation in the town, including the Hawes Youth Hostel at the western end.

Hawes is at the centre of some outstanding walking country, including the Pennine Way, as it crosses the high fells from Ribblesdale and though Hawes before passing close to the remarkable Hardraw Force (behind the Green Dragon Inn) to tackle the long climb to the bleak but grand summit of Great Shunner Fell into Swaledale.

But this is just one of many fine walks which can be enjoyed, both along the valley floor and along the valley sides. The Pennine Bridleway also goes through the town, following the ancient medieval Highway over Cotter End into Mallerstang and the Eden Valley and good bus services give easy access to a wide choice of walking routes. It’s also fine cycling country, especially on the valley’s less busy back roads.

There are regular daily bus services down the valley to Leyburn and Bedale, most notably the 156 service via Bainbridge, Aysgarth and West Burton which runs along the south of the valley and the 157 service which runs via Bainbridge, Askrigg, Castle Bolton and Redmire on the north side. Both services provide access to the Wensleydale railway. There is also regular Monday to Saturday service 113 to Garsdale station which links with the Leeds-Settle-Carlisle trains.

On Summer Sundays and Bank Holidays DalesBus 832 runs to Hawes from Ribblehead Station (with connections by train from Leeds and Skipton), continuing over the Buttertubs Pass to Swaledale and Leyburn.

On Summer Sundays and Bank Holidays DalesBus 800 runs to Hawes from York and Leeds, via Ilkley, Grassington, Buckden and Aysgarth.

On Summer Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays the Wensleydale Vintage Tour Bus runs between Ripon, Leyburn, Redmire, Hawes and Garsdale.

Bus times can be checked on the Dalesbus website (link opens in new window).

Local services: accommodation, pubs, cafes, shops, toilets, TIC

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