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Wensleydale - A view from our expert author
Hardraw Force, the highest clear fall waterfall above ground in England, in Upper Wensleydale © Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority
We tend to place more value on wilderness today, so much so that this valley is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Yorkshire.
‘This is in most places waste, solitary, unpleasant, unsightly, mute and still.’ Poor old William Camden didn’t much enjoy his visit to Wensleydale in 1590. We tend to place more value on wilderness today, so much so that this valley is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Yorkshire, and in peak holiday season at least you would have to work hard to find the ‘solitary, mute and still’ elements. The main valley is the longest of the Yorkshire Dales, and, oddly, named after one of its smaller villages rather than its river, the Ure. A busy ‘A’ road runs most of its length, linking the bustling towns of Hawes, Leyburn, Middleham and Bedale, and honeypot villages of Bainbridge and Aysgarth. Wensleydale has a fascinating history and bags of charm; a visit to the museum at Hawes can give you an excellent insight into the area’s past, and traditions from quieter times.
To escape the crowds try heading away from the valley-bottom roads, up the fell-sides or into one of the tributary side valleys like Coverdale, Bishopdale or Raydale. Alternatively, visit the main valley at off -peak times, especially aft er heavy rain when its many spectacular waterfalls are at their best.