Yorkshire Dales Walk - Hawes and the Cam Road
- Credit: Alamy
Fine panoramic views make this walk a great way to begin any new year.
Broad, sweeping Wensleydale has a character all its own and each one of the chain of plump villages strung along the River Ure, has its own particular claim to fame, be it Aysgarth’s world-famous falls or Bainbridge’s massive village green but few can rival the popularity of Hawes, the unofficial capital of the Upper Dale. The tiny market town, actually smaller than some villages, is nevertheless a magnet for visitors with its folk museum at the old railway station, the much-expanded Wensleydale Creamery, home of Wallace and Gromit’s favourite snack, and connections to literary vet James Herriot.
But it also has much to offer the outdoor enthusiast and admirers of Yorkshire Dales scenery. Less than a mile away, tucked behind the Green Dragon pub, is Hardraw Force whose 100ft drop makes it England’s highest waterfall while the Pennine Way, the country’s first national trail passes through. This excursion into the fells to the south of the town makes use of a much older route, the ancient track of Cam Road high above Widdale before returning down the Pennine Way itself. After a slightly complicated start through crofts and fields behind the main street navigation on clear, well-maintained tracks could hardly be simpler and the views across Wensleydale to the northern fells and later into Three Peaks Country are spectacular.
1. At the top of the one-way system by St Margaret’s Church go though an archway discreetly signed Pennine Way and Gayle Lane. The path climbs beside the churchyard to a gated stile. Do not go through this but instead turn right and follow the path across several small paddocks, traversing above the town to emerge on Gayle Lane next to the visitor centre of Hawes Creamery, home of Wensleydale Cheese and now a popular tourist destination in its own right. Cross straight over the road and go through a gate, passing between cottages and then climb to the top of the field to leave it by a gated stile in the top left hand corner. The path now crosses a series of pastures and stiles to reach the tarmac strip of Mossey Lane. Cross straight over in the same line and cross another field before angling rightwards to emerge on the Ingleton road. Turn left for a couple of hundred yards to where the road bends rightwards.
2. Here carry straight on up the roughly-surfaced lane. This is Cam Road and the end of the slightly convoluted first mile from Hawes. From this point things become much simpler as you stride out along this historic track. The initial long climb is enclosed by drystone walls before the green lane eventually escapes into more open country and a flatter section. As it follows the ridge the views become ever more extensive with a fine panorama to the northern hills behind and down into Widdale to the right. As the track gains height the distinctive flat top of Ingleborough peeps over the horizon before the final climb to Ten End, where in past centuries peat was dug for fuel.
3. Just before cresting the hill the track meets the Pennine Way by a finger post. Follow it leftwards almost turning back on yourself and heading for Gaudy Lane, two miles away. The going now is across grassy, peaty fell and much gentler underfoot than the sometimes rocky tramping of the Cam Road.
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4. After two very easy, comfortable miles the track drops down to join Gaudy Lane, a tarmacked farm access track. Carry on to the end of it and at a road junction turn right but then almost immediately take a stile on the left signed Pennine Way and West End. At a stile with a three armed post it is time to leave the Pennine Way for a while and instead head off across the field towards Gayle, aiming for the tower of Hawes Church ahead. When you reach the road turn right but at the first bend head on down a narrow cobbled path in front of a row of cottages to reach Gayle Bridge. After rain you will be accompanied downhill by the sound of invisible rushing water. From Gayle Bridge you can see the cause of the noise – a series of attractive cataracts. From the bridge turn left downhill towards Hawes and just before a playground it is time to rejoin the Pennine Way via a gate on the right which leads back on a flagged path to Hawes Church.
Start/finish: Hawes Church
Distance: 6.5 miles/11km
Terrain: Field tracks, moorland paths and green lanes
Time: 3-4 hours
Parking: Pay and display car parks in Hawes
Refreshment: : Extensive choice of pubs and cafés in Hawes
Map: OS OL30 Yorkshire Dales North and Central