A treat of a weekend walk in Wensleydale cheese country

Oh, the joy of it! On the Cam High Road.
Oh, the joy of it! On the Cam High Road.
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Oh, boy, what a treat! A huge sweep of glorious Wensleydale in the land of the Yorkshire giants. Giants?

In this case, a clutch of summits topping the 2,000-ft mark. And it all kicks off from Hawes, one of the most popular visitor centres in the Dales, with plenty of shops, cafes and museums – not to mention world-renowned cheese-makers - to add to the pleasures of the day.

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Despite its weathered appearance, Hawes is not an ancient settlement when compared with other communities in Wensleydale.

Markets were up and running at Askrigg and Wensley centuries before Hawes acquired its charter in 1699.

The market marked the start of the community’s rise to prominence. And when the Lancaster-Richmond turnpike arrived via Ribblehead and Widdale in 1795 allowing wagons, other than pack animals, to reach this quiet backwater, its future was assured.

Quarrying, coal mining, spinning and hand-knitting augmented the mainstay industry of agriculture.

With the arrival of the railway from Northallerton in 1878, Hawes boomed, so much so that a rival railway company, the Midland, built a spur to the town from the Settle-Carlisle line in the other direction. Thus, Hawes was served by a railway from east and west.

The town lost its railways in 1954, but the station lives on as part of the Dales Countryside Museum.

PARKING: Park on the lefthand side of the A684 just after entering Hawes from the direction of Leyburn, the best spot being in the vicinity of the famous ropemakers and the entrance to the Dales Countryside Museum.


10 miles: Allow 4 - 5 hours.

O/S OL 30 Yorkshire Dales Northern and Central areas.

Start by walking down the access road to the Dales Countryside Museum (brown sign). At museum car park, go past toilet block on your left to a wooden fence with locomotive and carriages at the former Hawes Station, turn sharp left up a diagonal path to emerge in the Hardraw road, cross it and turn right along pavement.

After about 100 yards, turn left into a road for a couple of paces and then turn right, through kissing gate, at fingerpost for Haylands Bridge. Flagstones lead across field and back into road – cross it to a rusty metal gate (open) and turn left on a path alongside road with River Ure on right.

Re-enter road and turn right across Haylands Bridge spanning the Ure and continue on road for about 100 yards to a fingerpost on your right for Sedbusk. Take this path, soon over footbridge, go up slope, through stile and onward along a paved trod to emerge in the Hardraw-Askrigg road.

Cross it half right to fingerpost, go through gated stile and turn RIGHT with Sedbusk appearing up to your left. The path leads to a gated stile and fingerpost – go slightly left (as fingerpost) over next field, closing with wall on left, before bearing half left up to a wall and fingerpost.

Enter road and turn left up to Sedbusk, ignoring fingerpost on right after 30 yards. Just before first houses, spot steps and a fingerpost for Litherskew on your right – take this path, turning right across front of cottages and then immediately taking a green track to a gate.

Continue by wall on your left, cross vehicle tracks (black bin bags) and take the stile ahead into wood. Exit wood and go slightly left over field to gated stile. Continue in same line over five fields to arrive in the final field before Litherskew – go straight across this last field to an arrow just right of a small stone building and left of a metal gate.

Go past arrow, across concrete garage drive and straight ahead, through metal gate, and turn right along vehicle track for 20 paces and then go straight ahead to a waymarked stile (house to right).

Now go straight across four fields, step across a beck in 5th field and follow wall on your right to a stile in field corner, just beyond a gate. Continue along vehicle track, through gate, past field barn, on by wall, through next gate and continue by wall on your right.

Keep going to a farm (West Shaw Cote) and take the permissive path (fingerpost) up the fence to left of large barn to gain a gated stile (white arrow) just beyond a gate. Pass through and descend half left to a walkers’ gate with arrow just above the premises, go through wood, over footbridge and onward to bypass farm to emerge at a “permissive path” fingerpost.

Turn left, through gate, and on by wall to the next property (Shaw Cote) and pass to its left (fingerpost) on vehicle track. After about 80 yards, as vehicle tracks sweep left uphill, go straight on past next building (a ruin) and on by wall to the next property at Bell Wood.

1 Press on, soon past fingerpost, to arrive, eventually, at a marker post sending you half left up the field away from wall. At brow of hill, a wall and gate pop into view with fingerpost to left of gate.

Gain the fingerpost, turn RIGHT along the wall, past the gate, and descend vehicle tracks which, on passing through a rusty gate, become stony and uneven – take care! On arriving at a house, sweep right along vehicle track, past barn on your right, to a fingerpost for Bainbridge and gated gap stile on your left.

Take this path and go across field corner in line of fingerpost, over stile and straight ahead, past a wall corner, and on to a gate with arrow. Go up the field diagonally right to a prominent tree, pass to its right, go round wall corner, to a stile ahead. Go straight on by fence on your left to next stile, cross it, go through the immediate gate on your right and turn left along fence.

At field end, go through a gated stile (arrow and fingerpost) and follow wire fence on your right, soon turning right. Go past a metal gate and descend banking to gain a wall and a makeshift wooden gate. Pass through and go straight on by wall on your left, past a marker, to arrive at a marker post at a gate and turn right to a fingerpost to left of a gate (or use gate!).

Enter road and turn left to a farm (Yorescott) and a fingerpost and stile. Go through stile and half left over grass, then over the farm track, to a gated stile ahead (to left of a green corrugated barn).

Pass through and go half right (no path), passing round the bottom of the hill, to spot a metal gate ahead with old metal kissing gate to its left. Go over final field to enter road, turn right across Yore Bridge and follow road into Bainbridge.

Go past Rose and Crown (on right) and a play area and toilet block (on left) to junction with the A684, cross it and go up the diagonal road opposite with village green and stocks to your left.

At top of slope, sweep right with road, past the Dales National Park Authority office, to leave the village. Climb the hill and onward, the road eventually levelling out for a pleasant stroll with a shapely hill, known rather prosaically as Crag, in front.

2 Now stay alert! At a lefthand bend with black-and-white chevrons, leave the road and go straight on along a broad vehicle track (fingerpost: Beggarman’s Road). This is Cam High Road, the near-2,000-year-old, straight-as-die Roman road linking Wensleydale with Upper Wharfedale.

Note: Beggarman’s Road is about four miles ahead at the end of Cam High Road – it is the tarred motor road linking Hawes to Upper Wharfedale (the unmade Cam High Road runs into it).

Climb gently up the wide track with several 2,000- footers in view. To your front right is Wether Fell (2,015ft) with, in profile, the steep nose of one of its outliers, Yorburgh.

To your right, across the valley, is a long, high ridge leading leftwards to finish at Lovely Seat (2,213ft). Left again is the long slope rising to Great Shunner Fell (2,340 ft). The gap between Lovely Seat and Great Shunner Fell is Buttertubs Pass, star stage of the Tour de France.

After a mile and a half – it feels longer! - you will emerge in the Countersett-Burtersett road. Turn RIGHT and soak up the joys of the freewheeling descent to Burtersett.

To your front left is another long ridge containing yet another 2,000ft summit – it starts on its righthand end as Ten End and goes leftwards to finish at the high point, Dodd Fell (2,189ft).

Follow the road (High Lane) for a mile into Burtersett and sweep right through hamlet and immediately look out keenly for the former Wesleyan chapel on your left (it is about 50 yards after sweeping right).

Immediately on passing chapel, turn LEFT between properties to enter field and go straight ahead, through gated stile and then slightly right over the next field to a stile, noting the occasional flat stones of an ancient packman’s trod.

Pass through stile and go half right down hill (paved trod) and then, at bottom of slope, turn left, still on paving stones. These lead to a gated gap stile. Go straight across two fields on the paved trod to enter a field with barn. There is a fork in path – take the right branch (the paved trod) to pass the barn on its right and continue on the old trod to emerge in a minor road.

Cross it half left to a fingerpost for Hawes and continue on flagstones to emerge in A648 on edge of village. Turn left along pavement to regain your vehicle.