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Is Hawes The Place?

Away Date 12 - 13 August 2023

By Ren Withnell

As previously explained in Is Beddgelert The Place? Sharon and I would like to find a campsite not too far from where we live, that's close to a local *small* town that we can walk to, that's somewhere pretty, and the campsite has fair to good facilities. We'd make this a "goto" regular site for those weekends where we fancy going away but can't be bothered to think about will the toilets be OK and will we be able to go shopping or have a pub lunch.

Mind you, this might all be academic as Sharon has abandoned me. She's gone on a hairyplane to Greece with her sister. Flying - pfffft. Sunshine - pffffft. It appears she's having a great time without me, how is this possible? Anyhow I am a 51 year old bloke with a motorcycle and a tent and I am unsupervised for the weekend - what could possibly go wrong? 

Sharon smiles happily while on holiday in Greece
See how happy she is without me.

I, we, we and with friends have been to Hawes before many times and camped there a few. It's a popular biking stop with cafes, a chippy, shops, and good roads all around. The campsite we've used before was Bainbridge Ings, a simple place with basic facilities, acceptable rather than splendid. However this site appears to have changed hands and is now just doing statics and upmarket pods. Dagnammit.

Sharon's Kweeway 125 at the campsite in Hawes
Sharon's first "big ride" was to Hawes back in 2013.

I have stumbled upon another campsite close by. With a weekend to myself I shall throw the camping gear on the bike and ride up there to take a look see. It's better I do this alone, if the site is terrible and the toilets disgusting then I only need to hear myself moaning about it. I have intentionally departed early enough such that if I get there and the site is terrible I can be back home in time for tea, nothing ventured nothing gained.

The ride up is great, with dry roads, a little sunshine between the clouds and a distance of around 80 miles on my chosen route. I find the campsite and it, well it's not what I'd hoped. It's a farm with a random very uneven field and no sign of toilets or a reception. I find a sign that leads me to the farmhouse but no response is forthcoming. After loitering for a while I decide not to call the number on the door, this, well this isn't what I'm looking for. I'll go into Hawes, get a brew, then head home.

I'm close to Bainbridge Ings, I'll drop in to see what's what out of sheer curiosity. If nothing else I'll grab a brochure or something. In reality I'm being nosey.

Oooh, a reception, that's new. Lots of swish statics and a variety of larger pods, although these are more like self contained chalets rather than glorified wooden tents. "Do you still do camping, tents?" "Yes". The lady is very friendly and still enthusiastic, which is nice. We negotiate terms of how much it is for one person and a motorcycle as this hasn't been fixed in their price list. A backpacker or cyclist is £13, we agree on £15, that'll do me.

A smart new static caravan sized chalet accomodation at Bainbridge ings
Far too nice for the likes of me. Sharon on the other hand...

Well I wasn't expecting this! I'm pitching up on a site I've pitched up at before and never thought I'd pitch up at again. They really need to sort their website out as their provisions for tent camping is not immediately clear. 

It's not perfect. 2 immediate problems become apparent. Firstly there's 4 unisex toilets in the old building, clean, functional, not luxurious. Then there's a much nicer unit with 2 male 2 female self contained shower rooms each with sink and toilet. That's 8 toilets in total. On this weekend we're in peak holiday season but with bad weather forecast it's not too busy so the toilet count is fine. On a sunny hot weekend I bet it's a problem.

Looking through a door we see a toilet and sink and the edge of the shower cubicle
Compact, almost cramped, but very effective.

Later a discussion with a staff member confirms this. The owners are absolutely desperate to install more toilets and showers etc but cannot get planning permission due to the strict rules with this being a protected area of some kind. I make a note to myself, it might be best to avoid this site at peak times.

Secondly the wind. The exposed situation of the site means my poor teepee is being battered. I know the teepee is up to the task but I reckon my tunnel tent would be struggling this evening. Sharon hates wind (stop sniggering at the back). It's not just the cold or the noise, it really seems to grate and grind on her skin or something. It doesn't bother me at all save for the damage it can do to a tent or the risk of the bike blowing over.

I find that as I head into Hawes in search of food, while the air is not still the wind is insignificant as soon as I'm off the exposed hillside. A second note to self - keep an eye on the forecast for high winds. 

Hawes has all we'd likely need on a weekend. There's a Spar with sandwiches and packet meals and tins etc etc. There's a few pubs serving pub meals. There's a chippy but it is worth noting the limited opening hours, this applies to the cafes too. It is busy this Saturday teatime but that's to be expected. I think it's quite pretty too, yes, Hawes is fine.

Back at the site I take a shower. The self contained shower, sink and toilet units (2 male, 2 female) are small, almost cramped, yet sufficient, heated and very effective. The shower is as hot as I wish and, get this, AND it has a proper tap and not a button that you need to keep on pressing every 20 seconds!!! I revel and soak in the constant flow of hot water, washing away my worries.

The blustery wind has me concerned, the teepee's sides are bucking and flapping and I need to move things around to keep them away from the severe curves the wind creates in the material. I double check the bike, pointing it into the wind and ensuring the stand is on it's "puck" properly. The rain comes hard, then goes, the wind blows hard, then eases, it's proving to be a hell of a night and getting to sleep is challenging.

The teepee's material is being blown hard, pushing the tent into itself
There's a fair old breeze a-blowing tonight.

I survive the night and sleep does come eventually. I do nothing more than make porridge for breakfast, pack up, decamp and get on my merry way. I take in the views of Ribblehead Viaduct, put petrol in the tank in Settle and enjoy the ride even though the skies are grey.

A very long arched bridge in the distance, heavy grey skies and Ren's motorcycle
Ribblehead Viaduct in proper weather.

Is Hawes the place? Definitely, maybe. As stated it's not perfect yet things seldom are, heck even I have the odd flaw. 

It is arguably a tiny teeny bit further than we'd like, from my house it's 80 miles, from Sharon's it's 100 miles. That's fine on a calm dry warm evening but it sure can feel like a long way if perchance the weather is against you, Llangollen was only 50 miles from Sharon's. Travel time is actually more important than mileage, alas the run to Hawes is 2 hours, to Llangollen was 1.

Sharon would definitely appreciate the heated shower toilet sink units, she would not appreciate the exposed camping area and the wind. The town and shops are close enough, the town has all we'd need. There's some good riding nearby and plenty of walking to be done too. The area is pretty enough. I hope to be back, next time with Her Worshipful Ladyship so she can form her own opinions and tell me where I'm wrong. 

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Reader's Comments

Upt'North ¹ said :-
Ay up me duck.
You definitely drew the short straw. Greece in the sun or rainy, windy NW England. Pfffttt.
I'm not trying to tell you where to go Ed, although I'm sure many have, but.
There's a spot on the M6 in Lancashire where you can see a canal at the side when travelling North. is it Brock? Probably not but you'll know it. I've always thought it looks a very agreeable spot for Lancs, afterall there aren't many. Pffffffftttttt.
You look down on the Canal/River from quite some height and it's surrounded by woodland. It always made me think why am I driving/riding for another six hours when I could stop here.
Strange innit.
But enquiring minds want to know where is it Ed.
Glad it was miserable for you.
30/09/2023 11:25:01 UTC
nab301 said :-
Ren , at last , you're back in "normal" mode !!
Totally off topic , would Sharon not ( assuming she still has it) donate the Keeway to your replacement for the CBF125 campaign?
30/09/2023 15:50:50 UTC
ROD¹ said :-
I believe that the Keeway now sports a flower based paint job, which may challenge Rens masculinity.
30/09/2023 16:04:42 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
There used to be a nice little campsite down near the bend in the river from Hawes. Mind you the last time I used it was in a tent so must have been a very long time ago!

I agree a pretty little town. If you're at a loose end(!) the rope manufactury is interesting.......

Oh, and if you fancy a little gentle green laning the Roman Road that runs south east from Mainbridge is rideable on a normal roadster - or was last time I was up there 15 years or so ago.
30/09/2023 16:51:37 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
ROD - the flower tank might not meet with my butch manly tough rugged image... that I wish I had. However if the price is right I'll take anything! No, Sharon's sold the Keeway recently, it was quite distressing for her.

nab301 - see above! The only other minor issue is I did physically fit on Sharon's keeway but it was a tad cramped even for lil' ole' me.

Upt', I have an inkling where you might mean, I'm gunna go check on Google maps... then see if there's a campsite nearby.
30/09/2023 16:52:45 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Ian - I have the roman road marked on my map and I hope to ride it one day. Regarding the site "near the bend in the river" - there's a lot of bends in the river! I suspect you mean the one I'll put in the link. As the website notes - there's no tent places there.
02/10/2023 07:01:41 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
I think that's probably it but as I say a long time since I was there. But as a caravan club member I could stay there in the tin tent.....

And of course it's Bainbridge not Mainbridge. My keyboard skills seem to be deserting me....
02/10/2023 10:04:14 UTC
CrazyFrog said :-
I have to say that even though I obviously ride the things myself, I tend to avoid places like Hawes and Matlock where huge numbers of motorcyclists tend to go, and I usually avoid biker cafés too...
05/10/2023 13:37:25 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
That's because like Ian Soady you're antisocial CrazyFrog. To each his own, I'm perfectly happy with a biker cafe, I'm also happy with a cute tea room in a little hamlet or a remote Scottish community. As long as there's tea that's the main thing.
06/10/2023 08:10:48 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
I don't think either of us is antisocial as such - however we are both discerning people and have (certainly in my case) had our fill of "bikers".
06/10/2023 11:56:24 UTC
nab301 said :-
I wouldn't describe the above behaviour as anti social more like unsociable.... which probably describes me too! Not that I don't socialise but large gatherings aren't always my sort of thing.


06/10/2023 12:38:43 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I'd never considered that nab301. Antisocial, literally, implies you are against being social, implying it's wrong and must be fought against. Whereas unsocial or unsociable suggests you don't hate the fact people socialise, rather you just don't want to be involved with it yourself. Words matter.

I take your point regarding "bikers" Ian but it's my experience they're much the same as any other group of people, be that for good or for bad. There's bores and there's fascinating riders, there's the one's who'll fight over looking at them wrong and there's calm, kind and considerate ones. They, we, are just people.
06/10/2023 18:33:27 UTC
CrazyFrog said :-
I'd always rather go somewhere quiet and peaceful rather than somewhere over run with people, whether they are riding bikes or driving cars. I also like travelling on my own because I find people are much more willing to engage with you if you are on your own than if your are with somebody else. Just me, we're all different!
06/10/2023 18:33:58 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
The solo travelling thing is a double edged sword CrazyFrog. Yes when I'm on my own it's far more common for folks to just randomly strike up a conversation. This being said most but not all of these folks are fine human beings, sometimes you'll meet some right plonkers though. I was accosted on this micro-adventure by a particularly dull couple cycling across the country, and seemingly incredibly tired of each other's company.
09/10/2023 08:00:35 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
That's no way to talk about Er'Indoors and myself. Dull?
I'm off to shave my legs.
09/10/2023 09:23:30 UTC
nab301 said :-
I'm going to have to do a control alt delete to remove that image from my head Upt...
09/10/2023 19:26:51 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
He has to shave his legs nab301, aerodynamic reasons, like the pedal cyclists. Plus it means pulling on the stockings is a much more pleasant experience. Thermals, I meant thermals, not stockings.
10/10/2023 16:39:39 UTC
nab301 said :-
I always thought for "pro" cyclists it was for reasons of massage and for easier cleaning of road rash but google and videos from cycling manufacturers suggests that there is a measurable difference in the wind tunnel!
11/10/2023 11:30:09 UTC

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