If it were human, it’d happily be looking at collecting its pension and using its bus pass. The Yorkshire Dales National Park, which was created in 1954, celebrated its 65th birthday this year.
At 841 square miles, it’s the third largest in the UK – only the Lake District and Cairngorms are bigger – so picking a central base for exploration is key.
And as soon as we drove into Hawes, we knew it would be spot-on.
In many ways, this thriving little market town is like the park itself. Traditional, characterful, seemingly unchanging, but actually happily moving with the times. And that was encapsulated in one of the main industries, the Wensleydale Creamery, just off the pretty, partly-cobbled, main street.
The Creamery has been an integral part of the community for many decades but when owners Dairy Crest shut it in 1992, the future looked bleak.
But the local management refused to let it die and, thanks to a management buyout, it rose from the ashes.
Thanks were also due to animated favourites Wallace & Gromit, whose on-screen love of the crumbly cheese helped it become a runaway success story.
Fittingly, the animated characters get their own pride of place as the Wensleydale story is told in entertaining fashion in the visitor centre.
And if, like Wallace, it puts you in the mood for “more cheese”, then the adjacent shop has every variation you could possibly wish for.
Our base, Simonstone Hall, has seen quite a revolution, too. The grand old house, which dates back to the 17th Century, has seen many an incarnation, most recently as this fine hotel, classily refurbished by the present owners.
It sits in the hills just a few minutes’ drive above the town, and the elevation gives some stunning views.
With sheep grazing in the field next door and a peacock strutting across the terrace in front of us on arrival, we couldn’t have felt closer to nature.
Simonstone is one of those places that wraps cosy, elegant, tranquillity all around you, with staff who couldn’t have been friendlier or more helpful.
Hollywood actress Kate Winslet honeymooned there, while Jeremy Clarkson’s stay was a little less loved-up after a bar-room barney saw him axed from Top Gear.
The accommodation was exceptional, with the half-timbered bedroom large enough to have a massive stone fireplace and a giant, circular copper free-standing bath.
There were public rooms to lose yourself in with a coffee, drink and book and the menu showed why it’s become a foodie destination.
The breakfast, with sunlight streaming in the dining room windows, was exceptional. But it’s not the only culinary cracker in the area. The White Hart Inn, down in Hawes, has, like the Creamery, risen from the ashes.
The once-rundown bar and hotel has been transformed by owners who took over in 2011.
The welcome, like the fire, was super-warm and don’t miss the Taste of Rhubarb dessert with the ice cream, crème brûlée and crumble all showcasing the local fruit.
If you want to get your bearings in the area, the Hawes National Park Centre, by the old railway station, is the place to head.
Opposite is Outhwaites Ropemakers. It’s been around for more than 100 years.
Hawes has featured in recent Life In The Dales documentaries, but just as familiar on screen is Askrigg, about 10 minutes’ drive away.
It was the setting for BBC series All Creatures Great And Small and the main street, pub, and building used as the vets surgery haven’t changed a jot.
Pubs have always been at the heart of Dales life – three in Hawes are literally side by side – but what’s changed are the breweries.
And along the road at Masham, you can see that change as well as what’s stayed the same.
When giants Theakstons planned to move away, family members stepped in to keep local brewing and traditions intact. The result is the Black Sheep Brewery, in the old buildings on the original site.
The tour has deservedly become one of the area’s most popular attractions – and the pint at the end of it was pretty darned good, too!
At 100ft Hardraw Force, just outside Hawes, is England’s highest single-drop waterfall. Spectacular in full flow, the entrance is next to the Green Dragon Inn.
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