Hawes is a famous market town in Wensleydale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. In this guide, we’re going to tell you about the best things to do in Hawes. Whilst we’re at it, we’re going to talk about everything else you need to know about visiting to help you plan your trip to the delightful town.
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About Hawes, Wensleydale
Hawes is a lively market town located on the River Ure in North Yorkshire. There are plenty of great things to do in the picturesque town. Whilst, there are plenty of great places to visit in the surrounding area. Before we dive into all of the best things to do in Hawes, let’s talk a little about the interesting history of the town.
Hawes pronunciation: it sounds like ‘hawz’.
According to the history books, Hawes was first recognised as a market town in 1307. Although, French monks had settled in the area in the 1100s and were locally producing cheese at that time. Since then, the area has been synonymous with dairy farming and producing cheese.
In 1897, Wensleydale Creamery opened in Hawes. The commercial creamery would go on to make the world-famous Wensleydale Cheese. Thanks to Wallace and Gromit, the cheese has become particularly well-known. And, as a result, Hawes has become an increasing tourist hotspot, with many visitors heading to the Wensleydale Creamery Visitor Centre.
The name of the town translates to ‘pass between mountains’. Indeed, the town is situated between Fleet Moss (an upland area separating Wharfedale and Wensleydale) and the Buttertubs Pass (another upland area separating Wensleydale and Swaledale). Certainly, Hawes enjoys a stunning natural setting surrounded by rolling green hills and pristine pastures.
Hawes is located in North Yorkshire in the northwest of England in the United Kingdom. To help you get your bearings, please click on the image below to access an interactive map of the town.
Discover Hawes: The 16 Best Things to Do
To help you plan your visit, let’s look at the best things to do in Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales.
1. Dales Countryside Museum
You can’t visit the town without stepping foot in the Dales Countryside Museum. Set in an old Victorian railway station, the museum is a great place to learn more about the history of the town and the Yorkshire Dales.
2. Hawes National Park Centre
The Hawes National Park Centre is actually located inside the Dales Countryside Museum. Certainly, if you’re after Hawes tourist information, head to the national park centre inside the museum.
3. Hawes Ropemakers
Next to the Dales Countryside Museum, you’ll find Hawes Ropemakers. This was one of England’s last traditional ropemakers, and sadly, it closed its doors in 2022. So, it’s no longer possible to visit the historic ropemakers. Thankfully, there are plenty of other great things to do in the town!
4. Hawes Market Place and Market Day
Hawes is well-known for its famous street market, known as the Hawes Market, which takes place on Tuesdays. As part of the market, the town’s Market House features indoor markets and furniture antique auctions. All of this can be found on the main street called Market Place.
5. Hawes Falls
One of the best things you can do in the town is simply wander its charming streets. Along the way, you can admire the cute cottages, quaint country inns and maybe even find yourself a cosy cafe for tea and cake.
Of course, if you’re wandering around the town, you’ll have to head to Hawes Falls. The sensational cascades that flow through the town are formed by a tributary of the River Ure called Gayle Beck.
6. Wensleydale Creamery Visitor Centre
As mentioned, the Wensleydale Creamery Visitor Centre is the cheese factory in Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales that attracts many visitors. Certainly, Wensleydale cheese, especially Yorkshire Wensleydale, has become a famous British cheese, eaten by people across the globe. So, really, a visit to the Wensleydale Creamery Visitor Centre is a must!
You’ll find a visit to the Wensleydale Creamery Visitor Centre is usually included in most tours of the Yorkshire Dales. Both of these GetYourGuide Yorkshire Dales tours with Yorkshire Day Tours and Day Tours of Yorkshire include a visit to Hawes and the Wensleydale Creamery.
7. Gayle Mill
Gayle Mill is another fascinating historical attraction in the town. Just down the road from Wensleydale Creamery, you’ll find the Grade II listed building. Built in 1784, the mill was initially a cotton mill. By 1860, it was converted to a sawmill. These days, the sawmill has been fully restored with original working Victorian turbines, line shafting and woodworking machinery.
8. Hardraw Force
Of course, a trip to Hawes isn’t complete without a trip to the glorious Hardraw Force. After all, Hardraw Force is one of the most famous waterfalls in the UK. Not only is Hardraw Force the highest single-drop waterfall in England, but it also features in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
Next to the Hardraw Force Heritage Centre, you’ll find the famous Green Dragon Inn, which is well-known for housing both the famous poet, William Wordsworth and the famous artist, J. M. W. Turner, during their respective visits. Additionally, the country inn featured on the Channel 5 TV series All Creatures Great and Small.
Read more: Hardraw Force – The Ultimate Visitor’s Guide
9. Cotter Force
Cotter Force is another excellent waterfall to visit in the hamlet of Hardraw, next to Hawes. The waterfall is found along Cotterdale Beck, which is a minor tributary of the River Ure. Better yet, it’s one of the most accessible waterfalls to visit in the Yorkshire Dales.
10. Aysgill Force
Aysgill Force is yet another spectacular waterfall to visit in the area. It’s actually possible to reach the underrated Aysgill Force by doing a walk from Hawes. Beck and I really enjoyed doing this walk and highly recommend it.
11. Pennine Way and Great Shunner Fell
The famous long-distance Pennine Way passes through the town. So, many walkers will spend time in the town en route. Along the Pennine Way, near the town, walkers will reach Great Shunner Fell, which is the third-highest mountain in the Yorkshire Dales. It’s also possible to do a day hike from Hawes to Great Shunner Fell.
12. Lady Hill
Lady Hill is a famous landform in Wensleydale. Located between Hawes and Aysgarth, you’ll see this unassuming landmark, which has a fascinating history. According to local stories, the drystone wall around it was built by the Normans and the last Russian Czar. Whilst, the hill was once used as a rabbit warren, established in the 18th Century to breed silver-haired rabbits.
13. St Margaret’s Church
Just north of the centre of the town, St Margaret’s Church stands prominently. This historic church was built in 1851 and features enchanting Victorian Gothic architecture. Definitely, you’ll want to see the church during a visit.
14. Buttertubs Pass
Buttertubs Pass is well-known as one of England’s most spectacular roads. Located between Hawes and Thwaite, the road incredibly weaves and undulates through an impressive moorland landscape, connecting Wensleydale and Swaledale. Certainly, driving along Buttertubs Pass is a highlight of visiting the area.
15. Snaizeholme Red Squirrel Trail
By far, one of the best places to see pretty red squirrels in Yorkshire is along the Snaizeholme Red Squirrel Trail. Working alongside each other, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and local landowners have created the remarkable Red Squirrel Viewing Area at Snaizeholme. Indeed, if you want to see red squirrels in the Yorkshire Dales, you’ll want to head to Snaizeholme, near Hawes.
Semerwater is the second largest natural lake in North Yorkshire (Malham Tarn is the largest). The lake is well-known for its watersports, peaceful walks and tranquil scenery. Certainly, Semerwater is a lovely place to visit near the town.
Things to Know About Visiting Hawes
Now you about the best things to do in Hawes, let’s look at some practical tips for visiting the charming town.
How to Get to Hawes
The simplest and easiest way to get to Hawes is to drive there yourself. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, then we recommend hiring a car using DiscoverCars.com. You’ll find a wide variety of cars on Discover Cars for very reasonable prices. Also, the website is user-friendly and booking online is super easy. Have a look at car hire from Manchester.
There are several places where you can find free parking in Hawes. Usually, Beck and I have found free parking in the heart of the town here. But, the town is a very popular place to visit, especially on the weekends and during school and public holidays. If there is no free parking or free street-side parking in the town, you’ll need to head to the pay and display car park at the Dales Countryside Museum.
Although it’s possible to use public transport to get to Hawes, we don’t recommend it. Depending on where you’re travelling from in the UK, you’ll likely have a slow and tedious journey. If public transport is your only option, we recommend using Google Maps, Traveline or Dales Bus to plan your journey. The nearest train station to Hawes is Gardale Station.
Accommodation: Hawes Hotels and Cottages
There is plenty of fantastic accommodation in Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales. Whether it’s bed and breakfasts, hotels or country cottages in Hawes, there are loads of options. Below, we’ve handpicked the best budget, mid-range and luxury accommodation options in Hawes.
The Best Budget Hawes Accommodation
- YHA Hawes: by far, the most budget-friendly accommodation in town is the YHA Hawes. If you’re on a shoestring budget, you’ll want to book a shared dorm at YHA Hawes.
- The Fountain Hotel: if you’re on a budget but want a private room, you’ll find The Fountain Hotel is the most affordable hotel in town.
The Best Mid-Range Hawes Accommodation
- Cocketts Hotel: this is one of the best value-for-money hotels in town. Certainly, Cocketts Hotel is one of the most popular places to stay in the area because of this.
- The White Hart Inn: the well-known country inn is another popular place to stay in Hawes. It’s located right in the heart of town and the decor is superb.
- Wensleydale House Hawes: a well-known Victorian-style bed and breakfast.
The Best Luxury Hawes Accommodation
- Simonstone Hall Hotel: the highly-rated four-star hotel (formerly a shooting lodge) is located near Hawes in North Yorkshire, just on the outskirts of town. It enjoys a quiet and remote ambience in the Dales countryside.
- Stone House Hotel: this four-star hotel is a classic Edwardian country house that was built in 1908. Similar to Simonstone Hall Hotel, Stone House Hotel is located just outside of the town, so it enjoys a superb peaceful location.
There are also plenty of campsites in and around Hawes. Undoubtedly, the Hawes Club Campsite is the most popular campsite in the town. But, there are many other campsites to choose from. The best of the rest include Bainbridge Ings Caravan and Campsite, the Shaw Ghyll Caravan and Camping Site and the Honeycott Caravan Park.
Where to Next After Visiting Hawes?
There are plenty of awesome places to visit nearby in Wensleydale. You should definitely head to the beautiful village of Askrigg and do the Askrigg Waterfalls Walk. Further east, you’ll have to visit the well-known Aysgarth Falls and the lesser-known nearby West Burton Falls.
Otherwise, by following Buttertubs Pass north, you can head to Swaledale, where there are also plenty of epic things to do. You’ll have to visit Keld and do the Keld Waterfalls Walk or wild swim at Kisdon Force.
Of course, the Tan Hill Inn is a famous pub in the Yorkshire Dales that you’ll have to visit. Well-known for being the highest pub in the UK, the country inn is a popular place to visit and stay at in the northwest of England.
FAQs About Hawes, Yorkshire Dales
Below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales.
What Is Hawes Famous For?
It’s famous for producing Wensleydale Cheese at its Wensleydale Creamery.
What Day Is Hawes Market?
The market is held on a Tuesday.
Is Hawes Worth A Visit?
Yes, it’s one of the best towns to visit in the Yorkshire Dales. Not only because the town is beautiful, but there are fantastic historical and natural attractions to visit in and around the town.
- Other places to visit during a trip: an honourable mention goes to the Stacey Moore Art Gallery. Whilst, there are plenty of nice independent shops in Hawes to check out. Otherwise, the Wensleydale Railway is an authentic heritage railway worth riding nearby.
- Hawes Pubs: the best pubs in Hawes include The White Hart Inn, The Crown and The Board Inn.
- Restaurants in Hawes: other than the well-known Chippie, the Wensleydale Pantry has a reputation as one of the best eateries in town. Otherwise, The White Hart Inn does some of the best pub grub.
Please read our Best Yorkshire Dales Walks and Best Waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales guides (coming soon).