This pleasant walk takes in two of Wensleydale’s best known features.
One is Aysgill Force, a spectacular 40ft waterfall in a wooded part of the upper reaches of Gayle Beck (also shown as Duerley Beck on some maps). The other is the Wensleydale Creamery, home to one of England’s most famous cheesemakers. There is a shop, visitor centre and cafe. The outward section of the walk from Hawes follows the Pennine Way, and part of the long-distance trail is used on the return leg. Look out for dippers along Gayle Beck, kestrels and buzzards hunting on the hillsides beyond the waterfall.
1. Leave Hawes by a footpath beside St. Margaret’s Church in the main street. This soon joins the Pennine Way and runs near Gayle Beck to the village of Gayle. Turn left then first right to cut across a field, then turn right to walk along Harker Hill.
2. At a junction cross to follow the Pennine Way on the other side. When it swings sharp right continue on a path forking left to Gayle Beck. Stay with this beckside footpath to Aysgill Force.
3. Continue past Aysgill Force and emerge from trees to follow Gayle Beck. Pass two footbridges and shortly after the path leaves the beck turn right on a farm track which doubles back along the hillside, eventually with walls on either side and a hard surface. Look for a footpath on the left which crosses the edges of three fields to reach Gaudy Lane.
4. Turn right to follow another stretch of Pennine Way until Mossy Lane is reached. Go left here and follow the road past two footpaths on the right. Take the third path which keeps a fairly straight line along field edges to Gayle. Cross the road with care and find a path to the left of Wensleydale Creamery. Ignore a left fork and continue ahead back to St. Margaret’s Church.
Difficulty rating: 2 stars
Distance: 4 miles
Time: 2 hours
Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer (1:25,000) sheet OL30, Yorkshire Dales Northern & Central.
Public transport: Hawes is on the 156 & 157 route from Bedale and Leyburn operated by Dales & District, Tel. 01677 425203. A Little White Bus service operates from Garsdale Station (Settle-Carlisle line), Tel. 01969 667400.
Refreshments: Hawes, Gayle.
Toilets: Hawes, and for refreshment customers.