It is a bustling town, always busy, whether with tourists travelling along the dale or the local dalesfolk themselves, yet this town provides a wide selection of shops that many other towns would be jealous of. The civic administration has taken care to ensure the place doesn’t become too crowded by providing a large, and reasonably priced car par that sits on the southern side of the dale looking down on the main street. This makes getting into the town centre itself very easy and really is a shrewd move to attract outsiders in.
For the first time visitor, a trip to the famous creamery is almost compulsory. The real Yorkshire Wensleydale Cheese is just one of a range produced on site at the creamery, and visitors are welcome to take a tour of the plant to learn more about the history of the cheeses and the production processes involved. Of course at the end of the tour you can sample the goods in the cafe and purchase your favourite at the creamery shop.
However, Hawes is not a one trick pony, there are more places to see than the creamery.
Head east down the main street you will pass through the main shopping area. Whether you want country wear, high tech electrical appliances or antiques you will find at least one of each type of shop able to take care of your needs. If you’re feeling peckish, you can find a number of food outlets which can supply anything from a quick sandwich to a full blown meal and it is always nice to visit one of the pubs to have a meal and a pint.
At the eastern end of the town, you will find the craft fair dealing in the best of local arts and craft based products. Keep an eagle eye out and you can pick up a real bargain here, but the place that really fascinated me was the ropery. I had never been to a rope maker’s before. It’s not something you tend to think about day to day is it? Having visited here it gives you a different view on those rope barriers you see in posh hotels, the ropes you use when climbing, or even the humble dog lead. There can all start their life here.
As you walk about the town, don’t forget to take in the buildings you pass. No two are the same and you can often guess their age by the discolouration of the stonework.
So whether you pause for a while to watch the water flow, or sit and watch the world go by whilst having a cup of tea or ice cream, it is always worth slowing down just a little to take in the atmosphere and observe every day life in the dales.