I’d always struggled with Hawes. It’s not very far from us up at the top of Wensleydale and when you first arrive, its winding, cobbled streets seem charming and attractive. But it sells itself as the ‘Heart of the Yorkshire Dales’ and has done such a successful job with this branding that it can be overrun with coachloads of visitors throughout the summer season.
And some of the places available for coffee and tea feel as though they are there mainly to cater for those coachloads – the standard around town was not great, so I was putting off visiting as part of the Fancy a Cuppa? North Yorkshire tour.
But as I drove through town towards the end of the summer I did spot a new venue that was about to open. This is where living close by a town has its advantages.
When I saw the board giving the exact opening day of Caffe Curva, I was able to do something I’d never managed before in over four years of reviewing coffee and tea venues: I could be there on Day 1 of a new coffee venture.
What a nice experience! Caffe Curva serve up the best coffee in Hawes without a doubt. And with a fresh, contemporary feel to the place, they have really brought something new and alive to the Hawes café scene.
Owners Gino and Vanessa only moved to the area in July, but it’s a mark of how well they have slotted into the Hawes community that a big bouquet of flowers was brought in as a welcome from neighbouring traders as I sipped my coffee on that first morning, and several of the old folk I chatted to in the High Street afterwards knew all about the coffee shop and its new owners.
I must drop back soon to see how they’re getting on. And next time I must try their house special, which is a retro drink, preparing the milk and coffee separately and adding a sprinkling of Green & Blacks chocolate on top. I forget the name they gave it, but others were making the right noises after ordering it for themselves…
If you’re into old crafts, Hawes is a top spot to visit. There’s a working cotton mill at the village right next door in Gayle, and down at the old Hawes train station, there’s a working rope-making centre and a wonderful old locomotive on the track at the old station platform. Only shame is that the old railway no longer runs through here (though I hear Wensleydale Railway enthusiasts are working on fixing that!).
The other great tradition of Hawes is the Wensleydale Creamery, saved so I’m told by the Wallace & Gromit craze for all things cheese in the 1990s and after. Given that our key phrase was also used a lot by Wallace, I was a bit disappointed not to find lots of ‘Fancy a Cuppa?’ sales items around the gift shop there.
What I did find was excellent loose-leaf tea at the Creamery’s 1897 Coffee Shop. So this is our recommendation for tea in Hawes.
I don’t usually go for big venues used to catering for those coachloads of visitors, but in Hawes I made an exception. Partly because the service was excellent (chatty, friendly and co-operative when I had lots of questions about the place), but mainly because of the really rather good loose-leaf tea from the Brew Tea Company.
I also don’t usually like gimmicky ways of serving tea, but their rather unique cafetiere-style teapots actually worked. And this was a top quality pot of tea, which went down very nicely with the cake and scone, baked on-site in the Creamery kitchens.
It’s also worth making an exception when the views you can get while you sip your cuppa are as stunning as this. If you get really lucky, you’ll even have sheep grazing right in front of your eyes.
So, for the first time in my life, I’m looking forward to my next visit to Hawes. That new coffee shop is definitely worth a try; and even the Creamery café for its excellent tea and cake, though I might still avoid a sunny Sunday in summer…