Famous for its cheese, historic villages, traditional markets and crafts, Wensleydale provides an excellent holiday base from which to explore the National Park. Its wide open valley, dotted with softly rounded hillocks left by retreating glaciers, gives it a very distinctive appearance. Water is an important feature of the landscape, the River Ure that once gave the valley its old name 'Yoredale' runs broad and deep through lush pastures perfect for raising milk cows.
The stepped Aysgarth Falls and the highest single-drop waterfall in England, Hardraw Force, are well known, but there are many other beauty spots to enjoy. West Burton - in the Walden Valley - has its own spectacular waterfall, Cauldron Falls, made famous by the artist J. M. W. Turner. Mill Gill Falls at Askrigg and Cotter Force to the west with its wheelchair accessible path, are equally magnificent throughout the year. Semer Water is the largest natural lake in the Dales. With its calmer waters, it is perfect for anglers, swimmers, canoeists and sailors.
The main town in Upper Wensleydale is Hawes, home to the world-famous Wensleydale Creamery, the Dales Countryside Museum, shops and lots of places to eat. From here you can also embark on a red squirrel trail to see these loveable creatures making a comeback in their natural habitat.
Bainbridge and Askrigg
Further down the valley lies Bainbridge, which has a fascinating history, being the location of the Roman fort of Virosidum. Across the River Ure is the village of Askrigg - the film location for the fictional TV vet James Herriot of 'All Creatures Great and Small'.
For your very own secret garden experience, visit the wonderful Aysgarth Edwardian Rock Garden, commissioned by local landowner Frank Sayer-Graham. It has such a fascinating story that it is now Grade II listed.
Leyburn and Jervaulx
Beyond the Yorkshire Dales National Park boundary, lower Wensleydale's main town is Leyburn with its three distinct cobbled squares where a thriving market is held every Friday. Further downstream lies Jervaulx Abbey, on the edge of Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Located in a beautiful, wooded setting by the River Ure, it is privately owned but open to the general public. On your visit, please make a donation in the 'honesty box' to help towards its upkeep.