Kay and I love touring in North Yorkshire. This beautiful part of the world seems to have everything, including two national parks, with North York Moors to the east and Yorkshire Dales to the west.

We’re not infrequent visitors to the latter, and take every opportunity to go whenever we can. For me, there’s a rugged beauty and simplicity about the Dales where you almost get the feeling time doesn’t matter, while for Kay, there are many reminders of her childhood on the family’s farm in the heart of the Derbyshire Peak District.

The Caravan and Motorhome Club has a lovely site on the outskirts of the small market town of Hawes, Upper Wensleydale, which is 30 miles from the Bedale exit of the A1 (our quickest route). That 30 miles takes you through some wonderful scenery and gives you a taste of what’s to come.

The small market town of Hawes
Staying just outside the small market town of Hawes, you are well-placed to explore the beautiful surroundings

Regular visitors

Over the past few years, we have managed to have a break in the Dales in late autumn, when on a sunny day, nature’s colours have been absolutely stunning, and the area is less busy than it is at the height of the season.

Our love of the Dales has extended to watching both the original BBC series of All Creatures Great and Small and the latest Channel 5 version of the same. When we visit, we try to find the wonderful locations that have been used for filming, and our latest trip was no exception.

Having set up at the campsite, we took the short walk into Hawes to pick up a few provisions and have a general look around. It was quite late in the afternoon when Kay suggested that we might have a drink, so we popped into The White Hart Inn, right in the centre of the town. I sensed that it was going to be a good break!

After a great night’s sleep (despite the best efforts of some hooting owls), we awoke to a lovely sunny morning, and decided we would stay local for the day, revisiting a couple of ‘must-sees’ in Hawes.

Our first stop was the Dales Countryside Museum, where you can get £1 off the very reasonable entry fee on production of your CAMC membership card. This is housed in the old Hawes railway station, on the way into Hawes from the site.

The Dales Countryside Museum at the old Hawes station
The Dales Countryside Museum at the old Hawes station

Sadly, the railway no longer runs here, having closed in 1964, but the heritage Wensleydale Railway, running between Leeming and Redmire, is well worth the trip if you have the time.

The Dales Countryside Museum tells the story of the area and the people who lived and worked there over the centuries, many of whom were sheep farmers or lead miners.

Inside the museum
Inside the museum

The visit also took Kay down memory lane, because I lost count of the number of times she said, “Oh, that picture reminds me of…”, or “We used to have one of those!” It really is a fascinating insight into past times and gives an indication of how hard things were back then.

A very grand steam engine, with several carriages, waits at the platform just outside the museum, and this contains many photos and artifacts telling the story of the former railway line. All in all, it’s well worth a visit.

As lunchtime approached, we walked to the Wensleydale Creamery, which is perhaps Hawes’ biggest attraction. Cheesemaking in the area dates back to 1150, when French Cistercian monks settled here, but it wasn’t until 1897 that the first creamery was built.

Although it has been through many rather turbulent times over the years, with threats of the business being closed, these days, the Wensleydale Creamery is thriving, following a management buyout in 1992.

We have visited the Creamery museum before, so didn’t bother on this trip – but again, it’s well worth a visit. And of course, given their well-known penchant for a nice bit of Wensleydale, Wallace and Gromit get a good mention here!

Delicious cheese

Following our lunch in the Creamery café, which for me consisted of a bowl of good soup accompanied by a cheese sandwich (Wensleydale, of course!), we took the obligatory wander around the shop and came away with a truckle or two of cheese – well, you have to, don’t you?

Sadly, they no longer make my favourite, Garsdale (Wensleydale with garlic and chives), but there’s still a huge choice of different flavours. I must admit that plain Wensleydale is absolutely delicious.

The following morning, the weather wasn’t so great, but we planned to visit Grassington, some 20 miles south of Hawes in Wharfedale, for a little location spotting. Grassington is the current Darrowby in the Channel 5 dramatisation of All Creatures Great and Small. After climbing up from Wensleydale, we crossed over into Upper Wharfedale, where the road follows the River Wharfe towards Grassington.

It’s a delightful route and one that takes you via Yockenthwaite, where Alderson’s Farm from All Creatures… is located.

Stunning walks

Arriving in Grassington, there’s a large Pay & Display car park, and a short stroll into the centre, where we spotted the current Skeldale House, The Drovers, and Endelby’s Grocers on the cobbled market square.

Grassington has always been a busy place, and since being used as a film location, it has become busier still. Even on a damp November weekday, it took us three tries to find a café with any tables free.

Later, leaving Grassington behind, we made the short walk past the car park and down to Linton Falls, before driving back towards Hawes and the relaxing comfort of the caravan. As the afternoon wore on, the skies cleared and we were treated to a stunning sunset – alas, I wasn’t quick enough with my camera to capture it.

We were once again blessed with a lovely sunny morning the next day, so decided to put on our walking gear and tackle one of the many trails in the area (the Pennine Way passes through Hawes).

The route that we chose is one we’ve done before, which takes you from the site, across the River Ure (how did Wensleydale become so named when the other Dales are named after the rivers?), then across fields towards Sedbusk. You then walk towards Hardraw, the location of Hardraw Force, reputed to be England’s highest single-drop waterfall.

As we descended towards Hardraw, we came across a recently installed seat with some wonderful carvings at each end. According to the plaque, it has been placed there in memory of a young local man. The views from the seat are stunning.

Arriving at Hardraw, we decided against visiting the waterfall, which we have seen many times before. It’s worth a look, but be warned, the admission fee has doubled (albeit to £4) in the past couple of years.

There are water features everywhere in this neck of the woods
There are water features everywhere in this neck of the woods

Green dragon, red squirrels

The entrance to Hardraw Force is to the side of the Green Dragon pub, which was closed when we last visited Hawes, but we had promised ourselves a meal there this time.

Before making our way back towards the caravan, we were treated to the sight of a couple of red squirrels scampering about on the opposite bank of Hardraw Beck (a tributary of the Ure and part of which is Hardraw Force). The path back to Hawes and the campsite is on the Pennine Way.

We decided to strike while the iron was hot and booked to eat at the Green Dragon that evening. Kay and I have fond memories of meeting up with the Practical Caravan team back in 2005 for a magazine covershoot in the area (staying at Hawes), and we had lunch at the Green Dragon then. That was the first work we did for the magazine, and I still have copies of the June 2006 edition (pictured far left). It’s scary to see how much I’ve aged since then!

Very little has changed at the pub, though, and that’s no bad thing. It’s a lovely place, with open fires and low beamed ceilings that are all original. The food was excellent, too, so we can thoroughly recommend the place if you ever pass by this way.

Visiting the viaduct

En route to see my sister, who lives locally, we passed the splendid Ribblehead Viaduct. We’ve seen it many times (and crossed it on a train), but we decided that we would walk there the following day.

Ribblehead Viaduct
Ribblehead Viaduct

If you drive towards Ingleton from Hawes along the B6255, you can’t fail to see this famous viaduct, which carries the Settle to Carlisle railway line across Batty Moss in the magnificent Ribble Valley.

There is parking at the side of the road, from which you can find well-made paths to the viaduct and beyond. The viaduct, an iconic feat of Victorian engineering, is a lasting memorial to the 100-plus men who lost their lives during its construction.

Threatened with closure in the 1980s, such was the public outcry that the Settle to Carlisle railway was given a stay of execution and remains in regular use today. Although we didn’t see any of the many steam train specials that traverse the viaduct throughout the year, we did observe a couple of diesel multiple-units making their way across.

By now it was coffee time, so we visited the nearby Station Inn, pausing to admire the Weather Forecasting Stone hanging outside. Showing the great Yorkshire sense of humour, the stone has captions such as ‘Forecast – Stone is Dry, Condition – Not Raining’ and ‘Forecast –  Can’t See Stone, Condition – Foggy’. The views from the pub lounge and the coffee they serve there weren’t bad either!

Our final day of touring took us over the Buttertubs Pass into Swaledale for some more All Creatures Great and Small nostalgia. The road between Feetham and High Green features the ford used in the opening sequence of the original TV series.

Passing through the pretty village of Reeth (another TV location), we traversed back into Wensleydale and passed Bolton Castle and the village of Askrigg, where the original Skeldale House is located. Kay and I stayed there a few years ago when it was privately owned, but it’s now ‘luxury holiday apartments’. However, the village and the surrounding area have retained their character.

There’s so much to see and do in the Dales that we’ve barely touched on all of the fascinating things on offer. We haven’t mentioned Aysgarth Falls or gone into detail about Bolton Castle or Wensleydale Railway, for example, but I’m sure that we’ll be back to revisit those places in the near future.

Are you thinking about where to head for your next tour? Our guide to the best caravan parks in the UK will help you find the destination to stay at

Way to go

From the east, turn right off the A684 Leyburn-to-Hawes road as you enter Hawes, onto the road signposted Muker and Hardraw. The site is on the right in 0.25 miles.

From the south-west, leave the M6 at Junction 36 onto the A65. In Ingleton, turn left onto the B6255. Turn into Hawes’ main street and then left onto the road signposted Muker and Hardraw as above.

From the north-west, leave the M6 at Junction 40 onto the A66. Turn onto the A685 and then onto the B6259. At Garsdale Head, turn left onto the A684, signposted Hawes. Then as above.

Food and drink

Green Dragon Inn

Bellow Hill, Hardraw, Hawes, North Yorkshire DL8 3LZ, 01969 667 392

Our outfit 

Land Rover Discovery towing a 2019 Coachman VIP 545

Where we stayed

Hawes Caravan and Motorhome Club Site

Hawes Caravan and Motorhome Club Site is for Club members only. Set in 18 acres, there are 119 pitches, all hardstanding and some fully serviced. Steel pegs are needed should
you be considering using an awning. The pitches are reasonably flat, although some levelling may be required. The site is kept spotless by the wardens, who also provide a few basic amenities and an information centre in the reception. 

Address Brunt Acres Road, Hawes DL8 3PS

 01969 667 338, caravanclub.co.uk

  • Open 1 March – 3 January
  • Pitches 181
  • Price (pitch+2+hook-up) From £24.60

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