Hawes is the main town of Upper Wensleydale and a major tourist attraction with people flocking here to enjoy the bustling weekly market, the famous Wensleydale Creamery, makers of Wensleydale cheese, the Dales Countryside Museum and, of course, the beautiful walks in the fells around the town. The River Ure flows through the town and down along the length of Wensleydale.
A bit of history
You can never escape the Vikings in Yorkshire and Hawes is no exception. The original name, The Hawes, came from an Old Norse word ‘hals’ which means “pass between mountains”.
Farming has long been an important part of the local economy of this lush valley, particularly dairy farming. Lead mining, rope making and the textile industry, with mills processing cotton, wool and flax, have also had a big impact at different times, with the river generating power for the various industries.
The church has also had an impact. First it was the Roman Catholic church – the original recipe for Wensleydale Cheese is said to come from French Cistercian monks who settled in the area in 1150 who first made the cheese. Infact, the powerful Jervaulx Abbey, home of the Cistercians in the north of England, originally owned half of Wensleydale. After the Reformation, and the subsequent dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th Century, the Abbey was destroyed and the wives of local farmers took up making the mild, crumbly cheese.
Hawes remained a village until 1699 when it was granted a market charter by King William III, and the town grew as it attracted farmers and other traders to the Market. A railway line to Hawes was opened in 1878 and helped the development of industry and tourism in the area, although the line closed in.
Hawes today is a bustling, busy market town thronging with visitors all through the year. There are reminders of the past everywhere you look in the town, from the cobbled main street, houses dating from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and pubs that were once staging posts and inns. Ropes are still made in the town, as is the famous Wensleydale cheese.
The town also boasts a wide range of shops, pubs, hotels, restaurants and cafes, together with craft workshops, antique and other speciality shops. In the Dales Countryside Museum, based in the old railway station in Hawes, you can discover much more about the Dales, its history and development over the centuries.
Market day is Tuesday and the town is transformed with large numbers of stalls and the hustle and bustle of both local people and visitors. There are both indoor and outdoor markets, and a farmer’s livestock auction mart.
It’s where authentic Wensleydale cheese is made. The cheese was originally made by monks as far back as 1150, the secrets passed to local farmers’ wives who continued making it long after the dissolution of the Monasteries. In 1895 manufacture began on an industrial scale although the business went through both peaks and troughs. The Creamery was eventually closed in 1992 but re-opened 6 months later after a management buy-out. The business now employs over 200 people across two dairies.
There’s more to the creamery at Hawes than making cheeses, however. The site now includes a Visitor Centre, a gift shop, café and restaurant. There are special events through the year and you can even see the cheese being made in the dairy from a purpose-built viewing gallery.
The Visitor Centre and gift shop is open Monday to Sunday, 9am to 5pm.
For more information, visit the Wensleydale Creamery website .
Dales Countryside Museum
The Museum is based in the now converted Hawes Railway Station and is managed by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority. There are galleries and interactive exhibits all telling the story and history of the Yorkshire Dales, through its people and the landscape. There are also a range of events, workshops and demonstrations.
The Museum is in Hawes, has on-site car parking, facilities for people with disabilities and educational groups, and a gift shop. It’s open every day from 10am to 5pm from February onwards. Entry is £3.50 for adults and children get in free.
For more information, visit the Dales Countryside Museum website .
Sited just 100 yards from the Dales Countryside Museum, Outhwaite Ropemakers has been making ropes since the 1700s. The business is still going strong, making a vast array of different ropes from shoe laces and candlewicks through dog leads, washing lines and skipping ropes to Bannister, barrier and bell ropes up to 25 metres long.
You can visit the factory, see ropes being made via a wheelchair friendly walkway, browse the shop and relax in the refreshments area. There’s car parking that’s shared with the Dales Countryside Museum. The factory & Shop is open Monday to Friday from 9.00am to 5.30pm. The shop is also open on Saturdays from 10.00am to 5.30pm.
For more information, visit the Outhwaite Ropemakers website .
Hardraw Force is the longest unbroken above-ground waterfall in England tumbling 100 feet from the top of Hardraw Scaur (Gaping Gill on Ingleborough has a longer unbroken fall at 300 feet but is underground). The waterfall is in the village of Hardraw, a short distance from Hawes, and is in 15 acres of grounds owned by the Green Dragon Inn. Access is via the bar at the pub and costs £2 for adults, £1 for children.
For more information, visit the Green Dragon Inn website .
Where to stay in Hawes
Hawes is a great base from which to explore Upper Wensleydale and there are plenty of places to stay whether you are looking for hotels, pub accommodation or bed and breakfast guest houses. Here’s a selection.
Pubs & hotels
|Bulls Head Hotel, Market Place, Hawes, North Yorkshire, DL8 3RD|
|Cocketts, Market Place, Hawes, North Yorkshire, DL8 3RD|
|The Crown Hotel, Main Street, Hawes, North Yorkshire, DL8 3RD|
|The Old Board Inn, Market Place, Hawes, North Yorkshire, DL8 3RD|
Bed and breakfast
|Ebor House, Burtersett Road, Hawes, North Yorkshire, DL8 3NT|
|Fair View House, Burtersett Road, Hawes, North Yorkshire, DL8 3NP|
|Loxley House, The Holme, Hawes, North Yorkshire, DL8 3QR|
|01969 666 964|
|Old Station House, Hardraw Road, Hawes, North Yorkshire,
|Wensleydale House, Burtersett Road, Hawes, North Yorkshire,