What To Do

Hardraw Force

Distance: 4½ miles (7km)
Time: 2½ – 3 hours
Terrain: field paths, the Pennine Way and quiet lanes,
but also some road sections where traffic may be busy
Start: national park car park in Hawes, grid ref 876899

hawes_map

At 850 feet (259 m), Hawes is one of England’s highest market towns and certainly bustles when the Tuesday market lines the cobbled streets through the centre. With the added attractions of the Dales Countryside Museum, traditional rope-makers and the Wensleydale Creamery, Hawes is a honey­pot for visitors to Wensleydale.

Prosperity and influence came to the town in the late 1800s when the railway from Northallerton was opened. Hawes Station was the terminus of the Wensleydale branch line and, with the connection to Garsdale on the Settle-Carlisle line, Hawes had train links to both ends of the dale. Along with many non-profitable rural railways, the lines were sadly closed in 1954. The old station buildings now house the Yorkshire Dales National Park Centre and the Dales Countryside Museum, and the adjacent car park is the start of our walk.

Walk into Hawes from the car park at Station Yard, passing a mini-roundabout with a charming carved wooden shepherd and his flock, and then past the post office on your left. Keep along the cobbled road to turn left opposite the White Hart public house up a narrower, cobbled lane signposted ‘Gayle Lane 1/4 mile’.

Keep on to the end of the lane, passing the church on your right, to go through a gate where the Pennine Way is signposted straight ahead. Ignore that sign and instead turn back on yourself to go through another gate immediately on the right, then, keeping the graveyard on your right, turn left uphill along a flagged track (the flags may be slippy if damp), to where the rooftops of Hawes come into view on the right. Go through a gated gap-stile straight ahead and cross the top of a smallholder’s field, with lovely rows of tall trees set at right-angles and a newer section of graveyard on the left.

Go through a step-stile and across the top of a field. Where the left-hand wall ends, bear 45° left to reach another gated step-stile. Bear left and descend down this field to the corner of the Wensleydale Creamery.

Go straight across the Hawes to Gayle lane and take the footpath between the houses, signposted ‘Mossy Lane 1/3 mile’. Proceed between the washing lines and ahead on a level path, leaving a barn on the right, to walk up the centre of a field, heading for a gated stile with the gable of a barn protruding above the wall. Keep ahead, passing to the right of that barn. The path then basically proceeds in a straight line across fields, some reedy and with telegraph poles in them, each dissected by a cross-wall with gated gap-stiles giving access to the next. Although the path isn’t terribly well-defined, as you move from field to field, the exit gap-stile is visible quite quickly.

There’s a break in the field-after-field routine where you cross straight over Mossy Lane into a field with two barns on the right. The next field has a dilapidated barn to the right, but the path is more obvious as it swings down to a stile on to the Widdale-Hawes lane. Head left along the lane for a few strides before turning right through a metal gate, signed ‘Bridleway Thorney Mire House, 1/2 mile’, along a wide green sward with a wall on the right.

The path swings left away from where the wall angles out to the right for a while, but when the wall is close by again down on the right, watch out for the paths to divide. Take the right-hand one to drop through a wide gap in the wall, indicated with a yellow marker-post. Head almost back on yourself, down a humpy field and through a gate to a three-way signpost, with a well-preserved limekiln on the right. Take the left-hand path, signed ‘Lanacar Lane’. Keeping left of an enclosure of trees, cross a step-stile to head uphill. Swing left at a 30° angle to where the ground levels and then swing right towards a yellow marker-post. From here, strike left towards a gate leading out on to Lanacar Lane, where you turn right.

The stroll down Lanacar Lane is a joy: the wide waters of Widdale Beck flowing down small waterfalls beside you, and the gracious six-arched Appersett Viaduct that once carried the Wensleydale Railway across the beck to walk beneath.

As you walk into Appersett, turn left over the bridge on to the A684. After a short distance, a footpath can be accessed on the left that runs just along the field adjacent to the road (a wise option if the road is busy). Take a metal gate giving access back to the road just before New Bridge crosses Cotter Force, and then bear right on the quieter lane, signposted ‘Hardraw and Askrigg’, and walk into Hardraw.

If you wish to make a diversion to visit Hardraw Force, access is through the Green Dragon public house, where the landlord makes a small charge. At a height of almost 100 feet (30 m), Hardraw Force is England’s highest single-drop waterfall. It’s a breathtaking but eerie sight, the waters of Hard­raw Beck plummeting in a narrow cataract into the murky waters beneath.
To continue the walk, turn off the lane through Hardraw opposite the Green Dragon, along the Pennine Way, indicated by acorn route-markers. Man-made paving crosses numerous fields. There are sweeping views across the infant River Ure towards Hawes, and you should just be able to see the top of Hawes church that you walked past soon after the start of the walk.

Soon an ox-bow of the River Ure comes very close. Drop down the steps to reach Brunt Acres Road and turn right. The road follows the curves of the river before crossing over to the other bank. Shortly after, our path bears right where a signpost reading ‘Pennine Way, footpath to Hawes 1/4 mile’ leads south across a couple of fields to bring you out on a side-road next to a cattle grid. Acorn markers direct you left back on to Brunt Acres Road, where you turn right into the centre of Hawes. As you cross the bridge over the dismantled railway, you will see a carriage on the left which is just behind the Dales Countryside Museum, and the end of the walk.


At 850 feet (259 m), Hawes is one of England’s highest market towns and certainly bustles when the Tuesday market lines the cobbled streets through the centre. With the added attractions of the Dales Countryside Museum, traditional rope-makers and the Wensleydale Creamery, Hawes is a honey­pot for visitors to Wensleydale.

Prosperity and influence came to the town in the late 1800s when the railway from Northallerton was opened. Hawes Station was the terminus of the Wensleydale branch line and, with the connection to Garsdale on the Settle-Carlisle line, Hawes had train links to both ends of the dale. Along with many non-profitable rural railways, the lines were sadly closed in 1954. The old station buildings now house the Yorkshire Dales National Park Centre and the Dales Countryside Museum, and the adjacent car park is the start of our walk.

Walk into Hawes from the car park at Station Yard, passing a mini-roundabout with a charming carved wooden shepherd and his flock, and then past the post office on your left. Keep along the cobbled road to turn left opposite the White Hart public house up a narrower, cobbled lane signposted ‘Gayle Lane 1/4 mile’.

Keep on to the end of the lane, passing the church on your right, to go through a gate where the Pennine Way is signposted straight ahead. Ignore that sign and instead turn back on yourself to go through another gate immediately on the right, then, keeping the graveyard on your right, turn left uphill along a flagged track (the flags may be slippy if damp), to where the rooftops of Hawes come into view on the right. Go through a gated gap-stile straight ahead and cross the top of a smallholder’s field, with lovely rows of tall trees set at right-angles and a newer section of graveyard on the left.

Go through a step-stile and across the top of a field. Where the left-hand wall ends, bear 45° left to reach another gated step-stile. Bear left and descend down this field to the corner of the Wensleydale Creamery.

Go straight across the Hawes to Gayle lane and take the footpath between the houses, signposted ‘Mossy Lane 1/3 mile’. Proceed between the washing lines and ahead on a level path, leaving a barn on the right, to walk up the centre of a field, heading for a gated stile with the gable of a barn protruding above the wall. Keep ahead, passing to the right of that barn. The path then basically proceeds in a straight line across fields, some reedy and with telegraph poles in them, each dissected by a cross-wall with gated gap-stiles giving access to the next. Although the path isn’t terribly well-defined, as you move from field to field, the exit gap-stile is visible quite quickly.

There’s a break in the field-after-field routine where you cross straight over Mossy Lane into a field with two barns on the right. The next field has a dilapidated barn to the right, but the path is more obvious as it swings down to a stile on to the Widdale-Hawes lane. Head left along the lane for a few strides before turning right through a metal gate, signed ‘Bridleway Thorney Mire House, 1/2 mile’, along a wide green sward with a wall on the right.

The path swings left away from where the wall angles out to the right for a while, but when the wall is close by again down on the right, watch out for the paths to divide. Take the right-hand one to drop through a wide gap in the wall, indicated with a yellow marker-post. Head almost back on yourself, down a humpy field and through a gate to a three-way signpost, with a well-preserved limekiln on the right. Take the left-hand path, signed ‘Lanacar Lane’. Keeping left of an enclosure of trees, cross a step-stile to head uphill. Swing left at a 30° angle to where the ground levels and then swing right towards a yellow marker-post. From here, strike left towards a gate leading out on to Lanacar Lane, where you turn right.

The stroll down Lanacar Lane is a joy: the wide waters of Widdale Beck flowing down small waterfalls beside you, and the gracious six-arched Appersett Viaduct that once carried the Wensleydale Railway across the beck to walk beneath.

As you walk into Appersett, turn left over the bridge on to the A684. After a short distance, a footpath can be accessed on the left that runs just along the field adjacent to the road (a wise option if the road is busy). Take a metal gate giving access back to the road just before New Bridge crosses Cotter Force, and then bear right on the quieter lane, signposted ‘Hardraw and Askrigg’, and walk into Hardraw.

If you wish to make a diversion to visit Hardraw Force, access is through the Green Dragon public house, where the landlord makes a small charge. At a height of almost 100 feet (30 m), Hardraw Force is England’s highest single-drop waterfall. It’s a breathtaking but eerie sight, the waters of Hard­raw Beck plummeting in a narrow cataract into the murky waters beneath.
To continue the walk, turn off the lane through Hardraw opposite the Green Dragon, along the Pennine Way, indicated by acorn route-markers. Man-made paving crosses numerous fields. There are sweeping views across the infant River Ure towards Hawes, and you should just be able to see the top of Hawes church that you walked past soon after the start of the walk.

Soon an ox-bow of the River Ure comes very close. Drop down the steps to reach Brunt Acres Road and turn right. The road follows the curves of the river before crossing over to the other bank. Shortly after, our path bears right where a signpost reading ‘Pennine Way, footpath to Hawes 1/4 mile’ leads south across a couple of fields to bring you out on a side-road next to a cattle grid. Acorn markers direct you left back on to Brunt Acres Road, where you turn right into the centre of Hawes. As you cross the bridge over the dismantled railway, you will see a carriage on the left which is just behind the Dales Countryside Museum, and the end of the walk.

Walk taken from Walks around Wensleydale, published by Dalesman Publishing priced at £2.99.

ISBN 978 – 1855682504.


The information given in this walk has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a general guide. Whilst all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that details were correct at the time of publication, the author and Country Publications Ltd cannot accept any responsibility for inaccuracies. It is the responsibility of individuals undertaking outdoor activities to approach the activity with caution and, especially if inexperienced, to do so under appropriate supervision. The activity described in this walk is strenuous and individuals should ensure that they are suitably fit before embarking upon it. They should carry the appropriate equipment and maps, be properly clothed and have adequate footwear. They should also take note of weather conditions and forecasts, and leave notice of their intended route and estimated time of return.