In the early days of 2011 my strolls were a problem because of snow and frost.
The start of 2012 has also been a problem because of almost continual wind and rain.
It is hard to keep warm, however good your clothing is, in the face of a force 8 gale. However, I braved the weather and enjoyed a short but historic stroll around Gayle and Hawes.
Start from the centre of Gayle which is a smashing, almost unspoiled village full of history and natural history. It has changed very little since the 1850s.
There are wonderful sounds here as Gayle Beck tumbles its way down to join the River Ure at Hawes.
Until the middle of the 16th century the monks of Furness, Fountains and the nearby Jervaulx reared horses and sheep in these areas. They made cheese from sheep’s milk and the present day Wensleydale cheese still follows the same technique but has substituted cow’s milk.
Look out in the village to see old cottages to the right and the old ford over the beck to the left. Traffic still uses the ford but on the day of my visit i did not risk crossing the stepping stones but instead I used the bridge.
From the bridge I spent a long time walking the tumbling cascades of small waterfalls which were, to say the least, impressive as the rain continued to fall.
Downstream and to the right is Gayle Mill, which was a water-powered cotton mill and more typical of Lancashire than of Yorkshire. It has been restored and should not be missed.
From the bridge pass down the main street for a short distance and look out for a footpath sign to the right. Pass through a series of metal gates and then follow a stone causeway. Look out to the right and see below Gayle Mill and the Beck which once provided the power.
The route then reaches the impressive Hawes Church. The name Hawes is derived from hawse, which is old Norse and means a mountain pass and which is an excellent description.
From the church follow a narrow causeway which descends through a complex of cottages and then finally actually underneath of them. This alleyway leads down to the main street.
Turn right into Hawes and reach the Countryside Centre and Museum, which is housed in what was once the old Railway station in the days before the Beeching cuts.
The road forks left to the old rope works and then bear right to the White Hart pub.
Opposite the pub is a small sign on the wall which indicates Gayle Lane. Ascend this lane and pass the church on the right.
At a complex of stiles go straight ahead through the cemetery to the right. A gap in a wall leads into the Creamery and its history of cheesemaking complex.
The exit meets a minor road between Gayle and Hawes. Turn left and return to the starting point.
How to get there
Hawes is situated directly on the A684 towards Aysgarth. Look out for a minor road leading to Gayle.
In the village there are no refreshmests on offer but this does not matter because you pass the Creamery, where the famous Wensleydale cheese is produced.
I always stop for a brew and stock up with cheese. At Gayle there is some street parking but there is also a pay and display car park.
Distance: Just over two miles