Wensleydale is one of the longest of the Yorkshire Dales, and runs for over thirty miles through the heart of the district, from Masham and East Tanfield on the edge of the Vale of Mowbray, past Middleham and Leyburn at the entrance to Upper Wensleydale, up to Hawes, one of the highest market towns in England, before finally reaching the head of the Ure at the foot of Wild Boar Fell.
Wensleydale in unusual in that it is now named after the village of Wensley rather than the River Ure. Given that, it is perhaps somewhat ironic that Wensley is no longer one of the most important settlements in the dale. A visit by the plague in 1563 was the final blow to a town that had been in decline for some time, and is now most often seen on a fleeting visit on the way to more dramatic scenary further up the valley.
Wensleydale is also unusual in having market towns at each end - Hawes at the top of the valley, Leyburn and Masham further down. The valley also contains a series of scenic villages, amongst them Askrigg, made famous when it was used to film All Creatures Great and Small and Castle Bolton, dominated by the partially ruined Bolton Castle.
The Ure and its tributaries have their fair share of waterfalls, some, like Aysgarth Falls very well known, others hidden away down side valleys and rarely visited.
The atmosphere of Wensleydale is more pastoral and less wild than in most other Pennines valleys, and it perhaps fitting that it is now best known for its cheese, produced at the Wensleydale Creamery at Hawes, using milk produced in the dale.