Descending from Tan Hill to the foot of Buttertubs Pass we actually got the full experience of the wild windswept moorland we had ridden the night before, and it made for the best riding of the tour. We took time to check out the remote sheep pens and gravel tracks up to the more isolated sheep barns - look out for a loaded gravel hill climb ride-out soon! Speaking of which, if you're after a more off-road option, the Pennine Way (bridleway) runs sort-of parallel to the road from Keld to Tan Hill.
Buttertubs Pass loomed; we could see the road snaking up and over the hillside ahead, a few drystone wall enclosures over. What a climb it is. To its testament, we didn’t even stop to take photos - the cattle grid summit was our focus before heading onto the buttertubs themselves – small pot holes where locals used to store butter to prevent it from melting in the Summer months. The descent into Wensleydale was our reward, whizzing past the line of snow poles to guide road-users in deep snow.
Hawes makes for the ideal touring pit stop – an ace small town with everything you could need café/pub/shop wise and more: a Creamery, known as the home of Wensleydale cheese. We ate, drank and picked up some supplies for the evening – namely Yorkshire Brack (strapped nicely to the top of seatpacks) and Sloe Gin (always makes it’s way into framebags) from the store and the market stalls that lined the High Street. Our next stop was the Creamery, just a minute’s ride out of town which if we’re honest, left us a little disappointed. The cheese selection was good though, obviously, so we pushed through the crowds and picked up one 'classic' and one 'fruity' Wensleydale wheel, oatcakes and some chutney which we stuffed amongst sleeping bags to keep safe on the road. Resupplied, with cheese, coffee and cake strapped to all parts of the bike, it was time to push on back to Harrogate.
Other than it’s smooth crumbly cheese, Wensleydale's claim to fame is that it's the best known exception to the ‘dale naming’ rule – named after the small village of Wensley, rather than the River Ure. Riding out through the dale in the shadows of Castle Bolton, with the Ure to our right, signalled the end of the wilder riding, for this tour anyway...