Every time I am in the Wensleydale area I always take the time out to visit the picturesque hamlet of Gayle. A small peaceful place literally walking distance from the Yorkshire Dales market town of Hawes.
It was here that much of my family tree hails from, and it was here that many Summer weekend days were spent playing in the great Dales outdoors when visiting relatives. perhaps that is why I am often drawn to many of the gorgeous spots here in the valley and area, Hardraw Force for example.
Gayle Beck runs straight through the village and does not take too many dry days before the waterway’s bed becomes very much waterless. Fond memories of my brother and I as young children popping out the house and into the river bed for some waterfall and boulder climbing.. seemed such an adventure. The waterfalls, often dry in the summer seemed a huge climb when you are a young lad.
There is more to the place than meets the eye. Again as often on these pages, here we meet the Pennine Way, before entering into Hawes the route passes right through Gayle, giving walkers a chance to ease through the little old cobbled footways and amongst the old stone houses by the waterway.
It is far from a large place too. Way back when it was originally a farming community. When mining and quarrying came to the area the village only swelled to a population of around 350.
The hump backed bridge is quite the village centre. It gives rise to the great view upstream… and
.. downstream the other way is a historic gem, Gayle Mill.
Built in 1776 as a cotton mill (one of the oldest unaltered cotton mills still around), Gayle Mill was then converted to a sawmill in 1878 where the waterwheel was replaced with a Thomson double-vortex turbine (said to be the oldest water turbine still in original position). Lots of hard work has restored and transformed it into a place where you can now visit, see and learn.
It was time to leave a place I am partial too. A wonderful little place, full of memories too plentiful for here, but always knowing a return is in the offing… one quick last look around
Every time I pass through Wensleydale I always try to take the time to pop into Gayle and reminisce. Every year i get older but the memories of an innocent childhood remain.