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 with many hotels and tearooms. Local industries thrive with pottery, wooden toys, the famous Wensleydale cheese and ropemaking for visitors to see. Interesting antique shops offer a glimpse of times gone by and the Dales Countryside Museum and National Park Centre are essential for those interested in traditional countryside life.
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 Newton-Le-Willows 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 seeking out for its fine trees, woodland walks and rose garden.