Wensleydale is a long and expansive dale which lies between Swaledale to the north and Wharfedale to the South. It is one of the larger dales within the Yorkshire Dales National Park stretching 25 miles from east to west. Wensleydale is a very distinctive and calming dale. As you look across the dale it seems an endless wide open space of farm land and moorland, sheltered by the gentle slopes of the dominant flat topped hills that appear to enclose the dale.
The Yoredales are responsible for Wensleydales unique landscape. The Yoredales comprise of a recurring series of limestone, shale and sandstone layers, which varies in depth throughout the dales. The Yoredale Series is at its deepest at Askrigg where it has been measured to be 275 metres deep. Due to the composition of the Yoredale stones the landscape has become varied. The easily eroded shale’s formed the gentle slopes of the valley sides. The harder limestone created prominent scars and steps up the valley sides.
The River Ure
Wensleydale is the only dale that has not been named after the river that runs through it, instead taking its name from the village of Wensley. The principal river in Wensleydale is the River Ure. The Ure’s source is at Ure Head on Abbotside Common and from here the course flows for 74 miles, and has many tributaries including the River Swale and the River Skell. Like many of the rivers and waterways in the Dales the River Ure flows into (and becomes) the River Ouse.
Wensleydale is home to a number of popular waterfalls including Aysgarth Falls and Hardraw Force.
Aysgarth Falls, a triple flight waterfall, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Wensleydale. The waterfalls carved by the River Ure covers about a mile stretch of the river amongst a forested area close to the village of Aysgarth. It is a very picturesque and relaxing area. When the suns shining it’s the perfect place to enjoy a picnic and when there has been heavy rainfall it can be very spectacular!
Aysgarth Falls was also the location where the fight scene between Robin Hood and Little John was filmed in the Hollywood hit Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.
Hardraw Force is another waterfall that was used as a location for filming for Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. But, it is also famous in its own right as being England’s highest, unbroken waterfall (above ground). The single drop falls 100 feet over a rocky limestone overhang into a pool beneath. Hardraw Force is accessed via the Green Dragon pub in the hamlet of Hardraw for a small donation.
Towns, villages and hamlets in Wensleydale