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Dairy Days walk: Hawes

Tuesday 23 April, 2019, by Karen Griffiths

There are so many dairying stories to tell around Hawes that we actually have two walks planned, both starting from the Dales Countryside Museum. One heads north across Haylands Bridge, to Hardraw, uphill to Simonstone then through a wonderful set of haymeadows with field barns to Sedbusk and then back downhill to Hawes. Our research revealed the medieval layout of land around Sedbusk, with a common meadow spreading west along the hillside, once farmed communally when the village was a vaccary, or large cattle farm, belonging to the Lords of Middleham. Tenant farmers took over from peasants and the meadow was divided up and ‘doled’ out. We know this because several of the fields on the 1840 Tithe map have the name ‘dale’ which comes from ‘dole’.

Hay in field barn near Sedbusk
Hay in field barn near Sedbusk

Similarly, a large area of common pasture north of the village was divided up and ‘allotted’ to villagers who previously had ‘beastgates’ on it which allowed them to graze one cow per beastgate on the communal pasture.

Our second trail runs east out of Hawes though haymeadows to Burtersett

Paved path leading to Burtersett
Paved path leading to Burtersett

We loved the paved paths through the meadows, originally put down for quarry workers, but weren’t quite so keen on the really narrow and rather well-named ‘squeeze’ stiles.

There were plenty of interesting features, such as troughs and culverted water courses but we didn’t manage to spot the stackstands which are supposed to be visible from the path.

Culvert under haymeadow near Burtersett
Culvert under haymeadow near Burtersett

The trail returns at a higher level to Gayle and of course the Wensleydale Creamery!

Picture of Karen Griffiths

Karen Griffiths

Interpretation Officer for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority


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