Wensleydale is a lush sweeping valley, distinct for its wooded knolls and hidden waterfalls; the most famous being Aysgarth Falls and Hardraw Force. The latter is the site of an annual brass band contest in September.
Hawes, known as the capital of Upper Wensleydale, is a busy market town. Here you can visit Dales Countryside Museum and Gayle Mill as well as the famous Wensleydale Creamery and traditional Ropemakers. Walk the 2.5 mile circular walk from Hawes or take the Little White Bus to the Snaizehome red squirrel viewing area in the heart of the Widdale Red Squirrel Reserve. Buttertubs Pass is the high road from Wensleydale to Swaledale offering a cyclist challenge and great touring.
The village of Bainbridge is centred around a spacious village green complete with stocks. The River Bain, the shortest river in England, flows from Lake Semerwater over a picturesque waterfall near the village.
Askrigg is famous for its associations with the James Herriot television series "All Creatures Great and Small". It has regular craft fairs, an annual art exhibition and flower festival.
Coverdale and Bishopdale
Both tributaries of Wensleydale, these are secret dales off the main tourist route and provide an ideal place to escape to peace and tranquility.
Middleham sits at the junction of Wensleydale and Coverdale. It has many attractive buildings gracefully arranged around two market squares, a legacy of the race horse training industry which started here as long ago as the 12th century and still thrives today.
Attractive shops and tearooms make Middleham well worth a visit together but its highlight is the ruins of Middleham Castle, the home of Richard III in the 15th century.
The attractive villages of Carlton in Coverdale and West Scrafton nestle further up the dale. A major attraction in the area is the modern folly of The Forbidden Corner, now one of Yorkshire's leading tourist attractions with its fascinating underground and overground passages. Bookings can be made via Leyburn Tourist Information Centre.
West Burton in Bishopdale is a picturesque village centred around a large village green. You need to make a short detour to enjoy its charms and discover the hidden waterfall. Thoralby and Newbiggin also lie down hidden lanes off the main route down the dale.
On the road towards Leyburn pass through West Witton then to the village of Wensley, where in an old watermill are candle makers who make candles by traditional and modern methods. Across the Dale is Bolton Castle, where Mary Queen of Scots was held. It is open to the public, and features regular historical events.
Leyburn and Lower Wensleydale
Only a short drive from the A1, Leyburn is a thriving market town set amongst the rolling hills of Lower Wensleydale. A good range of traditional shops are centred around three distinct cobbled squares and lively produce and livestock markets take place each Friday. There is excellent accommodation and services.
Leyburn boasts one or two unusual attractions having its own cinema, a Teapottery producing novelty teapots,
a chocolate maker, violin maker's workshop and a fine arts and antiques auction house. Craft workshops and galleries also offer a range of locally and regionally made items including woodturning, stained glass, paintings and pottery.
To the east of Leyburn, Bedale is another interesting market town with market held every Tuesday and the Big Sheep, Little Cow Farm Attraction, Close by, Newton-Le-Willows is a glorious listed Georgian hideaway.
Lower Wensleydale opens out into gentle sweeping countryside with the majestic ruins of Jervaulx Abbey hidden in a peaceful wooded setting beside the River Ure. The garden at Constable Burton Hall is also well worth visiting to enjoy its fine trees, woodland walks and rose garden. The Wensleydale Railway from Leeming Bar to Bedale, Leyburn and Redmire is a great way to explore this beautiful dale.