Nestled in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park is the wonderful market town of Hawes. Traditional stone buildings, cobbled streets and an ancient marketplace are surrounded by the dramatic landscape of Wensleydale.
Hawes has remained virtually unchanged over the years and the relaxed pace of life here is a perfect escape from the stresses of modern life. There are plenty of reasons to pay a visit to this magical market town, whether you are planning a romantic getaway for two or a countryside adventure that the whole family can enjoy. Browse our full range of North Yorkshire cottages to find your perfect base.
Fabulous food and drink
Image credit: Kev Gregory
You can’t come to Hawes without paying a visit to the Wensleydale Creamery and picking up some of Wallace and Gromit’s favourite cheese. You can learn all about the cheese-making process in the family-friendly visitor’s centre then sample and buy an array of Wensleydale cheeses at the on-site shop.
Also based in Hawes is Raydale Preserves, a family-run business which makes a range of delicious jams, chutneys and preserves using traditional techniques where everything is done by hand. You can pick up the products at the Wensleydale Creamery and we think a Yorkshire chutney is the perfect accompaniment to the range of cheeses.
There are an assortment of cafes in Hawes where you can call in for refreshments. Try some freshly baked cakes and scones at the dog-friendly Caffe Curva or head to the Wensleydale Pantry for hearty portions of classic English dishes. The Firebox Cafe is another great choice for lunch and offers freshly brewed Roost of Malton coffee that is ground on-site along with a selection of delicious Wensleydale ice cream.
For bistro-style food, head to Calvert’s Restaurant in the Wensleydale Creamery. They serve everything from beer-battered cod to hanger steak and, as you would expect, you can tuck into an excellent Yorkshire cheeseboard.
If you fancy some fine dining in the Yorkshire Dales, the nearby Yorebridge House restaurant holds three AA rosettes and serves a special tasting menu with an optional Champagne pairing - a perfect option for an extra special romantic treat.
Hawes is England’s highest market town at 850 feet above sea level and its name means ‘pass through mountains’. It stands between the mountainous peaks of Fleet Moss and the Buttertubs, and the elevated position of Hawes means you can enjoy panoramic views over the surrounding countryside. This part of the Yorkshire Dales is full of rolling hills, glorious valleys and wildflower meadows, all dotted with the traditional dry stone walls that the Dales are famous for.
We recommend driving out of Hawes and heading over the Buttertubs Pass along Cliff Gate Road. There’s a small parking area at the summit of the hill which has one of the finest vistas around. Whether you are looking for an Instagram-worthy photograph, fancy trying out your artistic skills or just want to stop and enjoy the view, the scenery here is spectacular.
The Yorkshire Dales is home to a number of pretty waterfalls and there are several to seek out in and around Hawes.
The most accessible waterfall is right in the centre of town. Hawes Falls is part of Gayle Beck and the bridge over the stream forms part of the main street through the market town. It’s worth pausing here to watch the gently tumbling water as you make your way through Hawes.
Just outside of Hawes is the small hamlet of Hardraw, home to the historic Green Dragon Inn which happens to have England’s largest single drop waterfall within its grounds. The water at Hardraw Force is thought to tumble around 100 feet to the beck below and there’s a beckside path you can follow to get the best view of the waterfall.
Also just a short walk from Hawes is the tiered Aysgill Force, a spectacular 40-foot waterfall that’s tucked away in a tranquil woodland setting. You’ll need to get fairly close up to see this one so we recommend taking walking boots and waterproofs for the walk.
Cotter Force is a small but very pretty waterfall on Cotterdale Beck, which flows into Wensleydale’s River Ure. There is a wheelchair-friendly path making Cotter Force accessible to all and there are seating areas where you can relax and enjoy the view.
One of Yorkshire’s most well-loved waterfalls, Aysgarth Falls, is a scenic drive from Hawes. The beautiful series of three woodland falls has inspired artists and poets including JM Turner and William Wordsworth over the years and was featured in the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
Discover more Yorkshire waterfalls
Image credit: Kev Gregory
The marketplace in Hawes dates back to 1307 and a royal charter was granted by King William III in 1699 allowing for a weekly Tuesday market and two fairs a year to be held within the town. Today, the marketplace is the main hub of the town with the cobbled streets that surround it housing a fine collection of independent shops along with a butchers, bakers and supermarket where you can pick up any provisions.
A market still takes place every Tuesday in the centre of Hawes with stalls that sell everything including local foods, clothing and hand-made crafts. The bustling weekly market is a big draw to visitors and locals alike and you can pick up some great bargains and one-of-a-kind gifts from the various vendors.
You’ll find a range of clothing stores to browse in Hawes including Whites of Wensleydale which stocks items from brands such as Joules, Weird Fish and Seasalt. Flairs and Graces is a stylish ladies boutique with seasonal fashion ranges and Cunninghams is a top choice for walkers with fleeces, waterproofs and walking shoes amongst its extensive range.
Gifts and interiors
You can pick up some stylish homeware at Bear Cottage Interiors - its range includes cushions, throws, reed diffusers, and candles. Head to The Mulberry Bush for gifts that include mugs, toys, cards, and knitwear or pick up some exquisite hand-drawn artwork at Stacey Moore’s marketplace shop. Chapel Gallery is housed in a former church and showcases works from a range of local Wensleydale artists and, for vintage pieces, Cellar Antiques is an Aladdin’s cave of items with period furniture and classic clocks amongst the treasure on display.
Other Hawes shops
Children and the young at heart will love a visit to The Old Sweet Shop which serves old favourites by weight along with chocolate bars, ice cream and hand-made truffles. For cakes and pies, J W Cocketts is a family-run butcher and baker which are renowned for its homemade fruit cake and bakes a range of items on-site.
Yorkshire Dales makes a perfect playground for children with streams to splash in, nature trails to follow and lots of wide open spaces that are ideal for burning off some energy. There's a children’s play park in Hawes which has various swings, slides and roundabouts to keep little ones entertained. You can take a seat and enjoy the scenic surroundings while the kids happily play.
We highly recommend heading up to Semerwater, which is located on the outskirts of Hawes. This 100-acre body of water is the second-largest natural lake in North Yorkshire and makes a lovely spot for a summer picnic. There’s lots of nature to spot around the shores and a range of water sports available to try on the lake including canoeing and paddleboarding.
For something a little different, you can watch a live sheepdog demonstration from Hawes sheep farmer, Richard Fawcett. The demos take place each Thursday and you’ll see the dogs in action, hear interesting stories from the farm and get the chance to ask any questions.
A short drive from Hawes is Bolton Castle which offers archery classes and falconry experiences for a fun-filled family day out. Children can also play some medieval games and try to find their way out of a tricky maze in the beautiful castle gardens.
History and heritage
The Yorkshire Dales National Park is filled with history and heritage and you can immerse yourself in the past with this selection of activities in and around Hawes.
Dales Countryside Museum
The best place to learn more about the history of Hawes is at the Dales Countryside Museum which is located on the edge of the market town in what was once a Victorian station building. You can climb aboard the carriages of a restored locomotive carriage, head through the tunnel of a lead mine and discover a range of objects from the past. There’s an on-site shop full of items from local artists and an information centre for the local area.
You can learn about the history of ropemaking in the Yorkshire Dales on a visit to Hawes Ropemakers, which has been part of the town since 1905. Watch live demonstrations of the ropemakers using the traditional techniques of the past and learn more about how everyday items are crafted. Entry is completely free of charge to this fascinating workplace, museum and shop.
The heritage Wensleydale Railway line runs from Redmire to Leeming Bar and travelling on one of the restored railway carriages makes for a very relaxing way to enjoy the Wensleydale countryside. Look out for the Leyburn Shawl during your journey - not only are there spectacular views from here but it’s reputedly where Mary Queen of Scots dropped her shawl as she fled from Bolton Castle.
Castles and abbeys
There are a number of castles and abbeys to visit during a short break or holiday to Wensleydale. Middleham Castle was once the home of infamous King Richard III, Bolton Castle has a history that dates back to the 14th century and Jervaulx Abbey is an atmospheric Cistercian monastery that’s set in wonderful grounds.
Scenic countryside walks
The countryside around Hawes is a rambler’s delight with pretty waterfall walks, nature trails, and challenging climbs to cater for all ages and abilities. The dramatic landscape around Hawes has also been used in cycle routes for both the Tour de France and Tour de Yorkshire. If you prefer to see the countryside while travelling on two wheels, you can hire a bike and get custom-made routes from Stage 1 Cycles , located opposite the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes.
Snaizeholme Red Squirrel Trail
Snaizedale is a woodland that lies just outside of Hawes and is known as a habitat for native red squirrels. A special Little White Bus service will take you from the Dales Countryside Museum to the start of a 2.5-mile woodland trail to the Widdale Red Squirrel Reserve viewing platform. On this wonderful wildlife walk, you’ll get the chance to see red squirrels, roe deer and woodland birds in their natural environment.
Hawes to Sedbusk Circular
This 4-mile circular walk starts at the Hawes Tourist Information centre and will take you past the Hadraw Force waterfall and Simonstone Hall country house. The route includes some steep climbs but there’s also spectacular scenery and a pretty packhorse bridge across a gentle stream that’s perfect for paddling.
Great Shunner Fell
If you fancy a bit of hill walking, the climb up Great Shunner Fell is a good one to try. At 716 metres, Great Shunner Fell is the third highest peak in the Yorkshire Dales and lies around 6 miles from Hawes. You can follow the path of the Pennine Way to reach Great Shunner Fell and there’s a shelter with wooden seats at the top where you can rest awhile and enjoy the view.
Bainbridge to Semerwater
Around 4 miles east of Hawes is the pretty village of Bainbridge, which is home to a large green and a couple of lovely tea rooms. You can park in the village and follow an old Roman road through peaceful Raydale to the shores of Semerwater. This is a moderately difficult walk with some challenging climbs along the way.
There are plenty of characterful country pubs in and around Hawes where you’ll find roaring fires, real ale, good food and a warm Yorkshire welcome. Here are some of our favourite places to call in during your next visit to Wensleydale.
The Crown Inn
This dog-friendly pub is located within Hawes marketplace and sells Theakston ale from nearby Masham along with its own Drunken Cow gin. The menu includes lots of local seasonal ingredients and there are plenty of cosy spots at The Crown Inn where you can snuggle up together.
White Hart Country Inn
The White Hart Country Inn dates back to the 16th century and is situated on the cobbled Hawes Main Street. Dogs are welcome in the wood-panelled bar where you can enjoy a range of classic pub dishes with a pint of real ale.
The Green Dragon Inn
There aren’t many pubs that house a waterfall in their grounds so The Green Dragon Inn in Hardraw is pretty special. Inside the 13th-century inn you’ll find lots of original character with beamed ceilings and chunky stone walls. Outside is a wonderful woodland setting and the majestic Hardraw Force waterfall.
The Board Inn
This traditional country pub has a friendly bar area where you can partake in a game of dominoes or darts, plus a cosy snug where you can enjoy a peaceful drink. There’s also outdoor seating at The Board Inn for when the weather is warm and a food menu that includes sandwiches, cakes, ice cream sundaes and classic hearty pub fare.
Plan your getaway to Hawes
There’s lots to see and do in and around Hawes making this Yorkshire market town an ideal base for a short break or holiday, whether you are travelling as a couple or with the family. Hawes is also very dog-friendly, so it's perfect if you fancy a Yorkshire adventure with your four-legged friends.
If you have been inspired to visit Hawes, you’ll find a lovely selection of luxury Yorkshire Dales cottages where you can rest your head after exploring the surrounding Wensleydale countryside.
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please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.