by Barbara Ballard
Hawes, at the head of Wensleydale, is a busy market town with high fells to both the north and south. A cobbled main street and stone buildings that date from late Victorian times mingle with houses of the 17th and 18th centuries.
The town, whose name originates from the word, Hause, which means a narrow neck of land, was granted its market charter by William III in 1699. The old market toll-house stands beside the Market Hall. The 1668 former Quaker rest house vies for attention with the 17th century Rose House. The Post Office was a grammar school in 1729, while the White Hart was once a staging-post and coaching inn before the railroad came to town.
The fascinating, homespun, Upper Dales Folk Museum displays the history of the Dales and the traditional countryside way of life. Artifacts from agriculture to lead mining to the home front are on display. The Hawes Ropeworks gives a fascinating glimpse at this little known industry.
The region's broad valleys with their lush green hills present ideal conditions for dairy farming, and Hawes is the home of the justly famous Wensleydale Cheese. The recipe comes from French Cistercian monks who settled in the area in 1150. When the monasteries were closed in the 16th century, local farmers' wives took up the art. By the 1900's the Hawes dairy, later to become the Wensleydale Creamery, was in operation. The Creamery's small museum explains the process of cheesemaking topped off with a tour of the creamery where the cheese is made. The excellent restaurant next door serves meals whose ingredients are sure to include a tasty cheese dish. Cheese lovers will be tempted to try them all.
The dramatic drive over the well known Buttertubs Pass, a natural pass whose limestone formations are said to resemble butter, is just north of the village. Rivers and glaciers carved the rugged beauty of the land, cutting, scouring and eating away the stone.
Hawes, nestled in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, wears its country town mantle like the warm and friendly place it is.
Hawes is located on the A684/B6255 above the southern bank of the River Ure.
Tourist Information Centre
The Yorkshire Dales National Park Centre. Tel. (0) 1969 667 450.
Open year round, summer 9am-5:30pm, wnter 9:30am-4:30pm. Tours from 10:00am. Tel. (0) 1969 667 664.