Austwick is a quiet attractive village situated off the A65 Settle to Kendal road, nestled against the upland limestone country of Crummackdale. People have lived in the area for about 4,000 years. The name 'Austwick' is of Norse/Viking derivation, meaning 'a settlement to the east', presumably to the east of Clapham, a neighbouring village. More recently, Austwick Manor was mentioned in the Domesday Book. The modern village lies wholly within the Yorkshire Dales National Park but the Parish of Austwick extends south of the A65 into the gritstone moorland of the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Drystone walls, many dating from the time of the enclosures around 1814, form attractive and distinctive field patterns around the village and surrounding farms. Today, while tourism contributes largely to the economy of the village, farming still remains an important occupation. It is not uncommon to see sheep being driven along the main street!
Austwick boasts many 17th and 18th century buildings with attractive datestones above the door. Once the village had its own market and the market cross can still be seen on the village green opposite the church.
Although the market has long gone, the village shop and post office - Cross Leigh Stores – still serves as a friendly meeting place for locals and visitors alike to shop and swap village news and gossip. Austwick also offers a welcoming village pub – The Gamecock – and hotel and bed & breakfast accommodation of a high standard.
There are many opportunities for exploring the Countryside around Austwick. The Pennine Bridleway passes through, while well maintained paths and lanes lead north into Crummackdale and onto Norber. The Norber Erratics are massive gritstone boulders deposited 12,000 years ago by glacial action on limestone 100 million years younger. Subsequent erosion has led to the boulders left perched on plinths or legs of limestone.
The gentler country to the south of the A65 can be explored using the newly created Eldroth Walkabout trail, starting at the Dalesbridge Outdoor Centre.
Austwick is sometimes known as 'Cuckoo Town'. The story goes that, in days gone by, as the cuckoo was generally a bringer of good weather in spring and early summer, the villagers attempted to keep the cuckoo all year by building a wall around the tree in which a particular cuckoo roosted. At first light, the cuckoo of course simply flew away over the top of the wall! Every year in May the village holds a Cuckoo Festival and Street Market when the village is decorated with hand made cuckoos while a day long open air market is held. A great village get together to which visitors are warmly welcomed.
Whether you just visit for a day or stay longer, you can always be assured of a real friendly Yorkshire welcome in Austwick.