Famous for its cheese which is produced at the creamery in Hawes, Wensleydale is a stuning area of the Yorkshire Dales to visit on a self-catering break. The dale is within the Yorkshire Dales National Park, with the lower part, below East Witton, also falling into the boundaries of the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and takes its name from the village of Wensley which was once the dale's market town.
The dale's market towns are Leyburn and Hawes, where you'll find an electic mix of local shops, many selling local produce and artisan goods. As well as its creamery, Hawes is also known for its historic ropemakers, Outhwaites, where you can watch the ropes being made and each year Leyburn hosts the Wensleydale Agricultural show, which takes place each August. Well-known villages in the dale include Middleham, Bainbridge and Aysgarth. Middleham is well worth a visit if you are in the area. Known for its racing, you'll often see the jockeys with their racehorses strolling through the village past the local shops and pubs. Middleham Castle is famous for its Richard III connections, the king lived here as a boy and the ruins of this castle are very well preserved. With a triple flight of waterfalls, its no wonder Aysgarth Falls was picked as the backdrop to the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. The waterfall, near the village of Aysgarth, stretches out for almost 1 mile and is a spectacular sight following rainfall, with Ruskin, Turner and Wordsworth all remarking at its beauty over the years. Bainbridge, taking its name from the shortest river in England, the River Bain, is home to one of Yorkshire's oldest hotels, The Rose and Crown Inn, which is said to be haunted and to the east of the village there is the remains of a roman fort.
Also worth visiting in the area is historic Bolton Castle, a fantastically preserved 14th century Grade 1 listed castle. The castle was once the prison of Mary Queen of Scots and it is said she escaped from here and began walking towards the nearby town of Leyburn, losing her shawl along the way. This walk is now known as 'The Shawl' and is a popular route with visitors and locals for its ease and breathtaking views.