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davidx Hawes - A travel report by David
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Hawes,  United Kingdom - flag United Kingdom
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davidx's travel reports

Wensleydale and Swaledale. [photos later]

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Wensleydale is one of the largest dales in the national park. It’s wider than most. Swaledale is north of it and much steeper, though with a smaller river, with remains of lead mining all round and very distinctive barns. Both flow west to east.

Wensleydale is probably the best known of all the dales, if only because its name is widely associated with a cheese. [Incidentally Wensleydale cheese is often eaten in Yorkshire with Christmas cake – very nice too!] The cheese is made near the little village of Gayle and the Creamery is one of very few paying attractions in the Dales that I recommend. Also at Gayle is an old water-powered mill that came third in the BBC’s Restoration programme in 2004 for the whole country. The campaign for funds to open it as a timber mill and teach traditional crafts there continues. Just upstream is the delightful town of Hawes, with a ropeworks open to the public and the Dales Countryside Museum. You can also find the impressive waterfall of Hardraw Force, entered through the grounds of a pub! Just beyond Hawes is the minor but pretty Colsterdale, which gives access to a walk up Great Shunner Fell, a striking viewpoint.
Going down the valley [of the Ure – Wensley is a small town near Leyburn] on the left bank you find Askrigg and anyone who has watched ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ or read books by James Heriott will feel they recognise it. Not too far on is Aysgarth Falls, a picturesque spot with a Park Information Centre. After this I feel hte dale has far less appeal until you reach Jervaulx Abbey, covered later.
Swaledale has a cheese as well, less known but quite as good. It’s far less frequently found than Wensleydale outside of Yorkshire. Apart from that and the direction of flow the two dales are very different. Swaledale is far steeper sided and the river is narrower See favourites for the upper part. At Reeth Arkengarth joins Swaledale [see for both] . The main place in the dale below this is Richmond. This is one of the very nicest towns in the Dales with a castle and a Georgian theatre.

Favourite spots:
The upper part of Swaledale is extremely attractive. The delights start even before you reach the dale if you come over the Buttertubs pass from Hawes in Wensleydale. I was surprised to find one website referring to the Buttertubs as holes in the ground, used for keeping butter cold. If you believe that - - -. They are actually deep limestone pots, naturally formed, and the pass provides splendid scenery. Having come down into Thwaite, turn left for Keld. Here you are near the lovely waterfall of Kisdon Force. You can follow the river downwards by footpath on either side, the far side taking you past the gloriously named Crackpot Hall. It is a 17th century farm, sadly in ruins. ages27b.htm is an adverising site but there are certainly some great pictures of this area to be seen there. The next village down is Muker where the Swaledale Woollens shop is well known. See llery/swalebarns.jpg for a photo of Swaledale barns.

What's really great:
Middleham Castle was one of the strongholds of Warwick the Kingmaker and later became the home of Richard, Duke of York, before he became King Richard III. The community’s website, www.middlehamonline.-co m/page4.htm, gives a very different view of Richard than the well known Shakespearian presentation of him. You can make up your own mind – enough historians have written on the subject. What’s for certain is that he met his wife, Warwick’s daughter, at Middleham and his son died there. The castle keep is the largest in the north of England. Middleham is situated a short way south of the Ure from Leyburn. A minor road goes up the minor Coverdale and crosses scenically to Kettlewell in Wharfedale. The Middleham/Coverdale area is noted today for the breeding of racehorses

What now seems to be called Bolton Castle [it used invariably to be called The Castle, Castle Bolton!] is a large medieval building a little north of Wensleydale. It is still open for functions such as weddings and can be visited.

Swaledale is surrounded by the remains of lead mining and a number of good walks can be enjoyed to look at them. See n/parade/hq69/Pages/mining.html

Other recommendations:
Each dale has a ruined abbey. That of Wensleydale is Jervaulx. It’s never been expensive to visit [privately owned] and, although it’s VERY ruined, I find it one of hte most emotive abbey remains in the county. Go to and click on picture gallery under history.

Swaledale has Easby Abbey, only a short walk from Richmond down the river. You can see pictures of the ruins at arade/hq69/Pages/easby_abbey.html

Published on Wednesday April 6th, 2005

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Fri, Mar 11 2011 - 03:04 PM rating by horourke

Hi David
I found this while researching cheese. It is a tempting report and if ever I have the opportunity I look forward to retracing your steps.

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