Wensleydale is one of the best known of the Dales, not just because of its beauty but probably also thanks to Wallace and Grommit! Wensleydale cheese is still made in Hawes. Unlike other dales, Wensleydale is not named after its main river (River Ure) but after the village of a Wensley which used to be a larger market town.
Honeykiln Cottage is in Middleham, which was also once home to Richard III. Middleham Castle is a 5 minute walk from the cottage, and the village was once regarded as the 'Windsor of the North'. It's now known for its racehorses: you can often see them training on the gallops in the morning.
Wensleydale's best-known market towns and villages are Hawes, Leyburn, Bainbridge and Aysgarth. Leyburn is a 10 minute drive from Honykiln Cotttage (about 3 miles away). Nearby are also several beautiful waterfalls: Hardraw Force, Aysgarth Falls, Whitfield Gill Force and West Burton.
Leyburn draws visitors to its market place with an array of quirky independent shops and farmers come to exchange their news and beasts at the Auction Mart. Campbell's grocery store sells an amazing selection of excellent local food, perfect for a picnic on the nearby Shawl.
Hawes is where you can find excellent cafes, shops to wander around as well as being able to see cheese being made. You can also see how rope is made at Outhwaites, which is almost next door to the Dales Countryside Museum. Run by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, the Dales Countryside Museum is a great starting point for any trip to the Dales, explaining more about its history and life of farmers and former lead miners.
Water is the force behind nearby Gayle Mill, an atmospheric 19th century woodworking mill which has been recently restored, and which conveys 230 years of industrial and social heritage.
Visitors can give their car a rest and enjoy a journey on the Wensleydale Railway which runs from Leeming Bar, to Redmire, near Castle Bolton. Bolton Casle in the contrarily named village of Castle Bolton is a fantastic vantage point from which to admire the Wensleydale countryside. Children love playing hide and seek at Jervaulx Abbey.
Despite its popularity, it is still easy to find very tranquil places to rest and admire the scenery, such as on the Buttertubs Pass and in the villages strung along Coverdale, a branch off Wensleydale.
In a place where much of the wealth was originally built on wool, it's not surprising the dale has its own breed of sheep: the Wensleydale with a fleece that looks like silky ringlets.
Don't leave Wensleydale until you've..
- Been for a ride on the Wensleydale Railway from Bedale via Finghall, Leyburn and Redmire
- Taken the vintage bus that goes from Ripon via Masham up through Wensleydale stopping at Jervaulx Abbey, Middleham, Leyburn, Redmire, Bolton Castle, Carperby, Aysgarth, Bainbridge and Hawes finishing up in Garsdale.
- Visited the formal gardens of Constable Burton Hall
- Warmed your feet in front of the open fire whilst sipping an ale at the Cover Bridge Inn (a beautiful 30 min walk across the fields from Honeykiln Cottage)
- Spotted a scarecrow on the Bellerby Scarecrow Trail
- Walked to the top of Penhill or Castle Bolton to admire the view
- Gone to an auction at Tennant's auction house
- Explored the ruins of Jervaulx Abbey, followed by coffee and cake at the nearby cafe or an ice-cream sundae at Brymor
- Take a walk on the Shawl with a picnic made from the delicious food from Campbells
- Sampled some of the tasty local produce at The Dales Festival of Food and Drink in Leyburn
- Seen hawks flown at Bolton Castle
- Admired the falls and artworks at Aysgarth on the 3km circular walk through Freeholders Wood
- Stepped back in time to the 1940s Weekend at Leyburn, perhaps arriving by Wensleydale Railway
- Watched the horses being trained at Middleham.
- Spotted a red squirrel from the Snaizeholme Red Squirrel Trail and seen salmon jumping in Walden Beck near West Burton
- Watched the famous cheese being made at the Wensleydale Creamery
- Admired the waterfall at West Burton, visited the cat pottery and read the pavement (really!) at West Burton
- Had a pint of George and Dragon at the pub of the same name in Aysgarth
- Had a bracing swim in Semerwater
- Seen how ropes are made at Outhwaites in Hawes
- Solved the riddles at Forbidden Corner in Middleham
- Taken part in a woodworking weekend at Gayle Mill where you can smell the wood being cut on a rack, hear the click of the belts running over the wheels as the turbines drive them and see the machines cutting. They also have other courses such as crochet, spinning yarn and knitting.
For more information about any of these suggestions just drop me an email. We have tried them all over the years, so will be more than happy to give you all the details you need!