Our stay at the Wensleydale Hotel had been lovely and before checking out we enjoyed another of their delicious breakfasts to set us up for the day. We then packed up the car and headed off to explore more of this beautiful part of Yorkshire.
Our first stop was at Aysgarth Falls just a 25 minute drive from Middleham. We parked at the National Park visitor centre (all day parking £3 and including access to the falls). After exploring the visitor centre with its interesting displays about the geology of the area we picked up a leaflet and followed the footpath towards the middle and lower falls.
Aysgarth Falls consists of a series of three waterfalls stretching over a mile long length with the visitor centre located midway between them. This stretch of the River Ure passes over three rocky ledges with viewing platforms at each of the falls.
It was a pleasant stroll through woodland to reach the falls and as we had arrived soon after 10.00 a.m. it was quiet with few other people about. Despite prolonged periods of dry weather it was surprising to see so much water cascading over the series of limestone rocks.
We then retraced our steps back to the visitor centre and continued on to the upper falls which lie just upstream of the road bridge. Surrounding the upper falls is open grassland making it a perfect place for a picnic on a sunny day.
Continuing our tour of the area we hopped back in the car another few miles to the picturesque Dales village of Bainbridge. Located in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, this idyllic village is home to The Bain, England’s shortest river. We parked beside the large village green with its original set of stocks then wandered around passing several tea shops, a village shop, butchers and a traditional pub called the Rose and Crown.
After enjoying cups of coffee, we left Bainbridge behind and headed to our final destination of our trip which was to the market town of Hawes in Upper Wharfedale. Another popular beauty spot and base for touring the wider area, this small town has numerous traditional shops such as Elijah Allen & Som which is an absolute gem of a food emporium.
There’s also a good supply of pubs and tea shops and the local chippie serves up the local delicacy of deep fried Wensleydale cheese. Personally, I prefer cheese in its natural form but everyone to their own as they say.
One of the reasons we’d come to Hawes was to find out more about its famous Wensleydale cheese so we strolled up a hill, half a mile out of town to visit the Wensleydale Creamery.
Cheese making in this area dates back to 1150 when French Cistercian monks first settled in Wensleydale bringing their cheese recipe with them. The creamery offers a one hour Cheese Experience (standard tickets £5.95) with seven daily demonstrations taking place. The experience started in the Demonstration Room where we watched an experienced cheese maker crafting Wensleydale cheese by hand detailing the process step-by-step. Information boards documenting the history of cheese making line the walls and our guide expanded on these in an interesting manner.
After the demo we were taken across to where the full scale operation takes place and from a viewing gallery window were able to watch the high tech automated process.
Next, we moved along to the tasting area, the part of the experience we had all been waiting for. Here we enjoyed tasting numerous varieties of Wensleydale cheese from the traditional to ones flavoured with cranberries and ginger. Not only that we were offered pairings of cheese with rich fruit cake which is something that I often eat together at Christmas.
Filled with cheese, we wandered through the children’s play area with its mini milk tanker, Wallace and Grommit figures and video clips. In addition to all this, there’s a restaurant, cafe, cheese and gift shop on site with ample free parking available.
Leaving the Creamery behind, we sauntered back down into the bustling town centre exploring more of its charming narrow streets. Our walk took us to the old station yard which is home to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Centre and the Dales Countryside Museum.(standard admission £4.80).
This fascinating museum contains a vast collection of Dales artefacts some of which are displayed in old railway carriages standing in what was once the Wensleydale Railway.
This brought to an end our splendid three day visit to Wensleydale. We’d adored every minute of it from our base at the delightful Wensleydale Hotel in Middleham to our tours and tastings of local beer, ice cream and last but not least cheese. We’d explored castles, waterfalls and picture perfect towns and villages receiving the warmest of Yorkshire welcomes all along the way.
During our stay we were guests of the Wensleydale Hotel and, as always all views and opinions are entirely my own.
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