This magical little market town is one of England’s highest, set 850 feet above sea water. Hawes was first recorded as a market place in 1307 and the lively Tuesday market still entices shoppers, locals and tourists alike. The name Hawes means a ‘pass between mountains’ and it stands between the stunning Buttertubs and Fleet Moss.
In the old Station Yard you will find the busy National Park Centre and Dales Countryside Museum. Look out for the old steam engine standing on what was once the Wensleydale Railway. The Museum is home to a magnificent collection of historic Dales artefacts donated by the two great Dales historians and writers, Marie Hartley and Joan Ingilby.
Next door to the museum you’ll find a rope maker still making ropes in the traditional way. The award-winning Wensleydale Creamery can be found on the road to nearby Gayle. The crumbly white cheese, made famous by the animated Wallace and Gromit films, is still hand-made on site. You can watch the cheese being produced in the visitor centre and then sample the end product in a special cheese-tasting room next to an airy modern café. You can also discover the 18th Century water-powered cotton spinning Gayle Mill. Converted to sawmill and electricity generation with original working Victorian turbines, lineshafting and woodworking machinery.
Hawes is at the centre of some outstanding walking country, including the Pennine Way, as it crosses the high fells from Ribblesdale and through 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. The red squirrel is making a comeback on a nearby nature reserve, call in to Hawes National Park Centre for viewing information. You can also go on a geocaching hunt through the town and out into the countryside, ask about hire of GPS equipment at the centre. This is just one of many fine walks which can be enjoyed, both along the valley floor and along the valley sides. It’s also superb cycling country, especially on the valley’s less busy back roads.
Set amidst breathtaking scenery it’s no surprise Hawes is one of the honeypot tourist attractions of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.