Staying at one our Wensleydale cottages is a great way to appreciate the lovely Yorkshire Dales, with beautiful scenery, excellent walking and plenty to see and do for all ages. Wensleydale is home to the famous cheese, made with milk drawn from cows grazing the limestone pastures in the upper dale. The modern creamery is in the thriving market town of Hawes towards the head of the dale and is a great example of a local enterprise benefiting the community. In 1992 the then owners Dairy Crest, a London stock market listed company, planned to close the creamery and move production of Wensleydale cheese to, heaven forbid, Lancashire. A management buyout not only saved the jobs and brought ownership into local hands, but has grown the business, developed a major tourist attraction and created employment in a rural area.
From Hawes, a short walk by the river takes you to Hardraw Force. It lays claim to being the country's highest unbroken waterfall, with access, rather unusually via the village pub The Green Dragon. The famous Settle to Carlisle railway passes through the western end of Wensleydale. From Garsdale Head station the line climbs through the beautiful yet bleak Mallerstang valley to its highest point on the Yorkshire/Cumbria border.
The River Ure meanders slowly down what is probably the most fertile of the Yorkshire Dales, before abruptly cascading down a triple flight of waterfalls at Aysgarth (pictured above). Although not particularly high, the falls are an impressive sight, especially when the river is in spate.
Castle Bolton is a medieval castle at the heart of Wensleydale. Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned here. The story goes that she escaped and made her way towards Leyburn only to lose her shawl on the way, hence the name (The Shawl) of the cliff edge that runs westward out of Leyburn, a well-known spot for gentle walks with excellent views.
For many, Wensleydale is forever Herriot Country. Much of the long-running BBC television series All Creatures Great and Small was filmed here with the vet's practice based in Askrigg.
No stay in one of our Wensleydale Cottages would be complete without a visit to adjoining Swaledale. It is the most northerly of the main Yorkshire Dales and whilst not the largest of dales, some say it is the prettiest with its rugged landscape in contrast with the more pastoral Wensleydale.
The picturesque small town of Middleham, with its two main market squares, is dominated by the imposing remains of a large medieval castle once the home of King Richard III. It is the leading racehorse training centre in the North with several hundred horses stabled in and around the town.
Nearby is perhaps Yorkshire's most idiosyncratic attraction - The Forbidden Corner. Anyone who likes their Hogwarts is not going to be disappointed here. It is a unique labyrinth of tunnels, chambers, follies and surprises created in a four acre garden in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. The temple of the underworld, the eye of the needle, a huge pyramid made of translucent glass, paths and passages that lead nowhere, extraordinary statues - at every turn there are decisions to make and tricks to avoid. Advance booking is essential.
Two miles down the road from Middleham are the ruins of Jervaulx Abbey, one of the great Cistercian abbeys of Yorkshire and perhaps one of the few remaining romantic English ruins. You can admire its picturesque setting amongst the grazing sheep and the grasses and flowers which still grow high up on the walls. Also, and unusually, the grounds are not manicured, providing a true feeling of tranquillity and serenity as you wander around the ruins.
Masham boasts not just one, but two breweries, both making real ales in the traditional way. The Black Sheep Brewery and Theakstons Brewery both have excellent visitor centres and brewery tours. The Theakstons have been brewing beer in Masham for six generations and are best known for their dark, strong Old Peculier beer. However a family dispute occurred when they sold to a multi-national brewery in the 1990s which led to one of the family setting up his own brewery - hence the name Black Sheep.
I've come up with a selection of Wensleydale cottages to suit all party sizes. So, if you are looking for Wensleydale cottages to rent, why not browse my selection to find something that catches your eye?
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