Hawes is the sort of place you could imagine Wallace and Gromit heading to for a holiday. That’s because it is home to their favourite cheese – Wensleydale.
The cheese was first made in the 12th century by French monks that had settled in the region and it has continued to be produced locally ever since. However, it has become particularly popular in the past two decades due to its association with the much-loved stop animation characters.
The information centre in the former Railway Station at Hawes has expanded into a fully fledged museum, including exhibits in the stationary train! The Wensleydale Railway, currently running from Leeming Bar to Redmire, has ambitions to reconnect to Hawes and on to the Settle to Carlisle Railway at Garsdale.
Another place to learn about local life can be found at Station Yard in the centre of Hawes. It’s called the Dales Countryside Museum and features artefacts which demonstrate rural life through history as well as works of art depicting the region’s beautiful countryside.
Two of the museum’s leading displays are a Bronze Age spearhead and a gold ring from the time when Vikings ruled the land. On selected dates the museum also hosts exhibitions and workshops on some of the professions that have important to the people of Hawes such as dry stone walling and rug making.
The Wensleydale Creamery on Gayle Lane is open to the public, allowing visitors to see the delicious dairy product being made and as well as sample the delights of it in finished form. Its Cheese Museum explains how Wensleydale has been produced through the ages and there are also screens up that show Wallace and Gromit clips to keep the children entertained.
Accommodation In Hawes
When you walk around the towns narrow and winding streets one thing you will notice is that almost all of the shops are owned by locals. There are a couple of major bank branches on the main road through the town centre, but most of the shops are family run and we’re sure you’ll agree that’s a good thing.
Each Tuesday there is also a market which has stalls lining the streets selling produce from local farms.
The scenery around Hawes is simply breath-taking and makes for many great walks. One particularly picturesque route heads to Hardraw Force to the north of the town. The Force is the tallest unbroken waterfall above in England at 100 feet.
It is on private land and a small admission charge is applicable for those wanting to see it up close, but it is well worth paying as it really is a unique sight. It is also a famous movie location, with its most notable appearance being in the 1991 hit movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
The falls are close to the Pennine Way footpath, which is a 267 mile hiking trail running from near the Scottish border to Edale in the Derbyshire Peak District.
Nearby Hardraw Scar is good place to visit on the second Sunday of September each year as it hosts its Brass Band Festival. This is one of the longest running traditions in Upper Wensleydale, with the first celebration taking place in 1884.
Bands travel to the event from all over Yorkshire and judges are used to give awards those that are deemed to have staged the best performance.
A site of major historical importance close to Hawes is Bolton Castle. Located around ten miles to the east of the town, this imposing 14th century fortress was built by Richard le Scrope, the lord chancellor of England under Richard II and is Scheduled Ancient Monument.
Its main claim to fame is the fact that Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned inside its high walls for six months following her army’s defeat at the Battle of Langside in 1568.
The castle still belongs to the descendants of Scrope, but is now open to the public and allows visitors to tour the bedroom where the Queen stayed, see the weapons in the armoury and explore the dungeon.
It also hosts falconry displays and archery workshops. On some days there are also sword fighting demonstrations.
Travel: Hawes is on the A684 and is easy to reach from the M6 in the west and the A1(M) to the east.