Wensleydale has been home to the favourite delicacy of animated heroes Wallace and Gromit since the 12th century, when monks introduced cheesemaking to the Yorkshire Dales. Handed down for generations, the tradition continues at the Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes, where you can observe the process before dining in the Buttery restaurant. Local farms supply all the milk used and this walk explores the landscape grazed by their cattle. As you’ll see, the cheese isn’t the only moreish part of Wensleydale.
The walk starts at the Wensleydale Creamery, which has a free car park. From the entrance, a field path descends to Hawes’ bustling centre. Turn right through the market place, passing several pubs, tearooms, a sweet shop and a popular chippie.
On the edge of town, just before the rope factory, follow the Pennine Way north along the Hardraw road, crossing the former Wensleydale Railway, which once linked the town to the famous Settle-Carlisle Railway. It closed to passengers in 1954 but volunteers operating services along a 22-mile section hope to fully reopen the line.
After crossing the River Ure, take a footpath on the right, which leads through meadows and over an arched packhorse bridge to the village of Sedbusk. Opposite the phone box, follow a path through a succession of hay meadows to Simonstone. Head up Simonstone Hall Hotel’s driveway and through a stile just before the courtyard.
Field paths beyond Simonstone Hall descend to Hardraw, where a visit to Britain’s highest uninterrupted waterfall is a must. A nominal fee paid in the Green Dragon – a cheery pub offering good food and fine ales – grants access to the natural amphitheatre into which Hardraw Force plummets 30m (100ft).
West of the village, an old miners’ track lifts you to Bluebell Hill and views across Wensleydale. From here descend using a path signed ‘New Bridge’ to the junction of the A684 with the Hardraw road.
Cross the River Ure into Appersett and follow Widdale Beck up steep Lanacar Lane, passing beneath Appersett railway viaduct.
At the crest, take a path left, across a moor to a stile near a wall. Beyond, near an old limekiln, a fingerpost directs you through a small quarry to a lane into which you turn left, to the B6255. Take a path that leaves the road for Hawes, then fork left through a succession of meadows to the creamery.
HOW TO GET THERE
The walk starts at the creamery in the market town of Hawes, which is on the A684, 16 miles east of Sedbergh.
FIND OUT MORE
HAWES TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRE
Station Yard, Hawes DL8 3NT
THE CROWN HOTEL
Market Place, Hawes
Excellent ales, fine bar meals and friendly attentive service have won this pub a good reputation among locals and visitors alike.
STONE HOUSE HOTEL
Sedbusk, Hawes DL8 3PT
This family-run country house retreat offers comfort, relaxation and superb meals.
Gayle Lane, Hawes DL8 3RN
Visit the museum of cheese making before watching the modern manufacturing process.
Town Foot, Hawes DL8 3NT
Admission is free to the modern-day factory, where you can learn about Hawes’ centuries-old tradition of rope making.