Part-time Traveller, Full-Time Brummie

Accommodation Review: Dales Cottage, Hawes

After a year off from our January minibreak tradition, we decided to extend our festive annual leave into the New Year and celebrate the start of 2022 in the Yorkshire Dales. A completely new area for us to explore, we booked the cosy Dales Cottage in Hawes via AirBnB.

Fancy an Airbnb stay? If you’re a first time booker, you can get money off your first trip here!

Location, location, location

Dales Cottage is located in the tiny hamlet of Appersett, which is about a mile outside of Hawes. Meaning “a pass between mountains”, Hawes is one of England’s highest towns, 850 feet above sea level. Gushing waterfalls flow through the centre of the town, with mellow stone cottages on each side. But above all, it’s famous for it’s cheese – home of Wallace & Gromit’s favourite (and mine), Wensleydale.

Appersett makes a perfect starting point for some beautiful short hikes in the Yorkshire Dales, including Hardraw, Cotterdale and Great Shunner Fell.

Dales Cottage: A Tour

Although you can enter Dales Cottage via a door which opens straight into the lounge (opposite the designated parking space), we entered on the other side of the building at the request of our host Samantha. There’s a tile-floored hallway and a wooden bench, perfect for ridding ourselves of our snow-covered boots. A step down and there’s a cosy lounge, with dark ceiling beams, a wood-burner and comfy sofas. We’ve had varying degrees of success with wood-burners, but after our safari tent experience last year we’ve become quite the experts. I provided us with a roaring fire to be proud of on the first night.

A chunky wooden door leads into a well equipped, light and airy kitchen. A quick inspection of the cupboards reveals teabags, which immediately puts it one star ahead of Thimble Cottage. I open every door and drawer, giving Mr Fletche a running commentary as I go. The other door from the lounge leads back into the hallway, and up a carpeted staircase. The first door from the landing reveals the long narrow bathroom. Naturally, I’ve selected a cottage with a bath, and packed my bubble bath accordingly.

Bedroom one is a spacious double with a brass bedstead. If one of us snores, this is where the other will end up. The front bedroom has a queen bed, made up of two zip and link beds so various sleeping configurations are possible. It has a large old-fashioned wardrobe which looks like it may lead to Narnia. It doesn’t.

Dales Cottage even has a small patio with seating. Probably lovely in summertime. Not really required in sub-zero January.

We paid £361 for 4 nights in January. Dales Cottage has two bedrooms, one bathroom, parking for one car and is dog-friendly (one well-behaved dog only!).

Staying in Hawes

Being the first week of the New Year, some of the local eating and drinking establishments were still enjoying an extended festive break. After all, who goes on holiday in Yorkshire in January?

It’s an easy mile walk from Dales Cottage to Hawes. You can either make your way along the main road (A684) or follow the public footpath which winds it’s way alongside Widdale Beck before heading down into the town. If you’re taking the road, be aware that there is no public footpath so make sure that you’re visible to oncoming traffic, particularly after dark.

We ate at the White Hart Inn, in a cosy bar area with open fire. I’ll forgive them the fake wood-panel effect wallpaper. The food was good, home-cooked pub grub, and we had the opportunity to sample local ales (Black Sheep Brewery, Wensleydale Brewery), and local gin. A bottle of the Black Sheep gin may have accidentally fallen into my shopping basket when picking up supplies at local artisan grocery store Elijah Allen & Son. We’d have returned to the White Hart for Sunday lunch had they not been closing for a winter break.

Exploring the Yorkshire Dales and beyond

The intention of our post-New Year minibreak was to relax and enjoy different scenery after working throughout the festive period (I use the term working quite loosely here). Therefore we didn’t pack the itinerary with lots of places to visit. But this short break made us realise that there is so much to see and do in the area, and we definitely plan to return later on in the year.

Hardraw Force

We walked from Dales Cottage to Hardraw, just over a mile away. Hardraw, Hawes and Appersett make for quite a neat little circular walk. There’s not much to Hardraw, but it does have Hardraw Force, purported to be England’s highest single drop above-ground waterfall. There is an admission fee (currently £4 per adult, £2 for children over five, cash only) and dogs on leashes are welcome. The lower walk is easily accessible for all; the upper paths are a little trickier with rough steps and muddy trails. Worth the admission fee? Probably not as the walks are so short but the fees do go to the maintenance of the site. At least the recent rain and snow melt meant that the falls were in full spectacular flow.

Fun fact: Remember the scene in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, where Maid Marian spies on Robin (aka Kevin Costner) bathing in the buff? That was filmed at Hardraw Force! This is the second time I’ve stumbled on a Robin Hood filming location, the first being Sycamore Gap in Northumberland.

Ingleton Waterfalls Trail

Six waterfalls make up this stunning circular trail, through woodland and open meadow. It’s just under 4.5 miles in total, and although it’s not a difficult walk a certain degree of mobility and fitness is recommended. Not one to attempt in flip-flops and a floaty dress (if you’re that way inclined). And it’s one way – so if you decide it’s not for you there’s no going back…

Naturally, spectacular waterfalls tend to fall from a great height, and therefore there are a few uphill climbs. The morning’s rainfall had turned some of the paths into something of a quagmire, and a few of the riverside paths on the return leg had started to flood. Which was when I realised that another pair of walking boots were not as waterproof as they should be.

I’ll be putting together a separate blog post on visiting Ingleton Waterfalls Trail, so keep an eye out for that soon!

Ribblehead Viaduct

The Settle-Carlisle train passes through the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, crossing the 400m long Ribblehead Viaduct. with it’s 24 arches. The only things here are a station/visitor centre, an inn (imaginatively called The Station) and the viaduct but it’s a great place for a short stop. There is a small parking area at the side of the road, and it’s just a 5 minute walk to view the impressive structure from beneath. I didn’t do this, on account of still having soggy feet from the waterfall walk.

Richmond via Buttertubs Pass

Designated driver Mr Fletche would quite happily choose Buttertubs Pass as one of his favourite stretches of road in England. Crossing between Wensleydale and Swaledale, the 6 mile drive winds through open moorland, surrounded by limestone potholes that give the pass it’s moniker.

We headed east towards Richmond – given that all our local pubs seemed to be closed for a winter break – for Sunday lunch. Situated right on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, it’s a bustling small town, with Georgian architecture, riverside walks and a 950 year old Norman castle. In fact, Yorkshire’s Richmond lays claim to being the very first “Richmond” in the world. There was plenty of choice for a Sunday roast, but we opted for the Town Hall Pub right on Market Square. There’s also a strong independent scene in Richmond, with a lovely converted Victorian railway station – handily called “The Station” which offers artisan food shops, a micro-brewery, local art, a cafe and even an independent cinema.

Final Thoughts – Will We Return to Dales Cottage?

In a heartbeat. There are few places that I’m genuinely sad to leave, but Dales Cottage was one of them. We mooted the idea of coming home late on the Sunday, but I couldn’t resist another evening in front of that fire. Or another bath. For a short stay, it has everything you need; it would also make a comfortable base for a longer stay. And there was so much still to discover, both in Hawes and in the Yorkshire Dales. After all, I went to Wensleydale and DID NOT have cheese. It was perfect for a winter break, but now we want to visit in the spring. And the summer. Oh, and the autumn too.

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