Post 194: Hawes attractions and Aysgarth Falls at its best.
Our descent along the delightful B6255 to Hawes was very different to my walking descent to Hawes on my coast to coast, The North of England Way, in 1993.
Then we descended to Hawes in rain and, not realising that the grass had become like a skating rink, I fell forward with such panache that Torville and Dean would have been impressed. As I aquaplaned down the grassy slope, I entered the record books as one of the few people who had done a section of The Pennine Way and The North of England Way horizontal. With a pack on, gravity has full effect, making it very difficult to stop. By the time Hawes was reached the rain was coming down in torrents. There is only one thing to do in that sort of weather, go to the pub or a waterfall. At Hardraw, 2 miles outside of Hawes, it is possible to do both. We entered the pub and followed the path past the bandstand to the impressive falls, best seen after heavy rain. The 96-ft high shimmering column of water is reputably the highest above ground in England. It was painted by Turner and every spring it is a natural amphitheatre used for a brass band concert. However, on this wet day a hasty retreat to the inn was the order of the day, how convenient.
Hawes has a number of other attractions, not least the Wensleydale Creamery in Gayle Lane, ‘home’ of the famous Wensleydale cheese, the museum portraying the history of ‘Real Wensleydale Cheese.’ In addition to the museum, there is a viewing gallery where you can watch cheese being made, a cheese shop with free tasting, and a licensed restaurant. Try some Wensleydale Wallace and Gromit cheese or Wensleydale cheese with apricots – absolutely delicious and guaranteed to give you energy for the remainder of any walk!
There is plenty of accommodation in Hawes, including a Youth Hostel which had a reputation for providing ‘home’ cooked food.
However, Hawes can get busy and, after parking the car, the first pub we went to was full. We found a cafe/retuarant opposite the Crown pub, which provided us with excellent Sunday roasts. Victoria remained true to form and had a pint of beer.
Having got our breath and energy back, where now? It was now 6.00pm but I didn’t want this 8 days to end. The sun was still out. There was only one place suitable to finish what had been a great 8 days, Aysgarth Falls, which Turner visited and painted in 1816.
In my coast to coast book in 1997 I said:
‘Aysgarth Falls are best seen towards the end of the day when all the tourists have gone, or during the long summer evenings. The River Ure, confined between wooded banks, falls over a series of broad, shallow terraces extending over a mile. The falls were at their most impressive, bursting with energy and vitality after the exceptionally heavy overnight rain.’
We were not to be disappointed on this occasion and spent nearly an hour and a half there photographing, admiring and videoing the falls at the best I had ever seen them. One piercing memory for me was the noise of the falls, which was intense and which I captured on video.
We started at the Upper Falls.
Then moved to the Middle Falls
The walked to the Lower Falls
Before returning to the bridge over the river
We were very happy to have caught the falls in spate and in good evening light.
Returning over Aysgarth Bridge to the south bank we passed Yore Mill on the left. The mill was built in 1784-85 as a corn mill but has a chequered history including being burned down in 1853. Rebuilt to twice the original size it subsequently had a variety of uses; between 1912 and 1959 it was a flour mill. Since 1967 its roomy interior has housed the Yorkshire Carriage Museum, which has a fascinating variety of old coaches and carriages, as well as an unequalled view of the Upper Falls.
Further up the hill, again on the left, is St Andrew’s Church. Although it was largely rebuilt in 1866, its 4½-acre churchyard indicates its earlier importance as the mother-church for the whole of Upper Wensleydale. Inside the church the exquisite wooden screen filling the south side of the chancel was brought to Aysgarth from Jervaulx Abbey at the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It was carved in about 1506, by members of the famous Ripon School of Carvers. At its western end is the delicately carved Vicar’s Stall made from two bench-ends from Jervaulx.
However, the day was not quite finished and when we got back to the car a final sunset blessed us again.
Miles Walked 8
I think Victoria enjoyed her 8 days of the Best of the Yorkshire as she has invited Celia and myself to visit her town in the Bavarian Alps! Needless to say I have accepted and I am looking forward to seeing one of the most beautiful and dramatic parts of Germany and the nearby Austrian Alps in 2018.
I certainly enjoyed the 8 days which, although being completely different to anything I had ever done before, had parallels with completing a long-distance walk with changing activities, views, vistas and challenges (but pleasant) each day. We had been blessed with kind weather for all but half a day (shopping day) in Yorkshire and some time in Lancashire.
It was now 19.30 and we had spent nearly an hour and a half absorbed by the falls. It was time to head back to York. I finally arrived home at 21.45pm! Then it was up early next day to take Victoria to Manchester Airport and back to reality.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about some of the places we visited and that it will encourage you to visit some of them.
It would have been Penny Bolton-Galbraith’s 50th birthday today (21st) had her life not been cut short by illness. She is always remembered and is ‘still walking the fells with me’. A ‘Canadian jewel’, who was a truly international person. Although her trail name was ‘Talks with Sheep’ she lived each day as a Tiger – we should all do that and make the best we can of each day.