Every great trip needs a home base. For our adventures exploring the Yorkshire Dales National Park in northern England, we choose a village called Hawes. Hawes has all the charms of a quaint market town: narrow, meandering streets; stone buildings nestled into idyllic English countryside; a weekly market; and an iconic red post box for the Royal Mail.
Hawes has fewer than 1,000 residents yet, despite its modest size, it boasts a renowned delicacy. It’s a major producer of Wensleydale cheese, which is the favorite of the beloved claymated character Wallace, of “Wallace & Gromit” fame. The region’s cheese-making tradition dates back centuries and today enjoys protected status that allows only cheese made in Wensleydale to be called Yorkshire Wensleydale. The crumbly artisan cheese is so important to the local economy that when the Wensleydale Creamery closed down in 1992, a local businessman and former employees worked together to restart it, saving jobs and ensuring the beloved cheese continued to be produced in its home. Today, that delicious cheese and its proximity to gorgeous countryside in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales draws in tourists like us.
Rolling into town we quickly encounter its cobblestone streets, which makes us happy to be riding the Specialized Diverge. The Future Shock 2.0 suspension system, located at the stem, takes the edge off the rattle of the ancient stones. Coupled with high-volume tubeless tires, the bike produces a smooth ride, letting us completely enjoy our surroundings.
Cafés dot street corners, giving an indication of how many people are drawn here by the Yorkshire Dales, making this the perfect pit stop for cyclists. The Satin Carbon paint of the S-Works Diverge blends in with the village’s ancient stonework as we set our bikes aside for a coffee. Despite being undoubtedly modern, the bike fits perfectly with this timeless place. If you’re looking for an end-of-ride drink instead, stop in for a pint and a meal at one of the pubs. Perhaps the Crown Hotel, which has a few rooms if you want to stay the night. Just don’t be tempted to eat too much if you pop in for a lunch break, because great riding abounds just outside of Hawes.
For all the village’s charms, its proximity to countryside is one of the main reasons we are here. And while we would like to stay here forever and eat Wensleydale cheese and local bread, we have so much more to see in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. We’re off to tackle the many climbs in the region and put ourselves, and the Diverge, to the test. The village carries the distinction of being England’s highest market town, at 850 feet above sea level, but we’ll be doing plenty more climbing than that as our adventure continues toward the most challenging climb this area offers: Fleet Moss.